What is Slime-San: Blackbird’s Kracken?

Slime-San: Blackbird’s Kracken is out today and is an expansion to the original Slime-San which came out earlier this year. It’s an old school, hard as nails platformer taken straight from the playbook that gave us Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV and I Wanna Be The Guy.

If you’ve played Super Meat Boy, the control scheme is going to feel very familiar, with a focus on bouncing between walls and precision platforming. Slime-San adds a couple of elements to that with a dash, which extends your jumping abilities but is finicky to get right and the combined ability to slow down time and phase through certain blocks.

You can’t use it in every situation, but being able to slow down time takes some of the inane difficulty in precision platforming out of the equation. There are times the levels manufacture situations that require you to remain solid, or potentially flick back and forth, and these are often the more trickier parts of the game. Slowing down time has become a bit of a crutch for me and I’ve not gotten far enough through the base game or expansion to know if my reliance on it will kick me in the teeth later on, but it feels good to use.

The 25 levels offered in the expansion are made up of a few single screen challenges played back to back with occasional larger levels that have you scrolling around. Each new level usually presents a new gimmick, such as a bubble that allows you to bounce off of a surface that would usually kill you or a submarine you can pilot complete with torpedoes. There’s enough variety that it never gets stale.

Unlike Super Meat Boy, you’re not able to skip any of the levels to progress further in the game. As a result, getting stuck can be moderately frustrating. On top of that, Blackbird’s Kracken starts off at a higher level of difficulty than the original game, I think some level of familiarity is expected. There is a tutorial, however, that should be enough for anyone buying this as a standalone title.

Slime-San is saturated in this strange aesthetic and I’m not talking about it’s high contrast retro visual style. The expansion is presented as a sort of holiday retreat gone wrong. You can wonder through this resort, talking to the supporting cast of amusingly weird characters and do a bit of shopping. Collectable and hard to obtain bananas are found in every level and you can use these to purchase different characters, visual tweaks, accessories for your slime to wear and improvements to your summer home. Beyond that you can get your picture taken or even play a DOOM clone in a gameboy style mini game. There’s plenty of stuff around the edges of an already solid core that carries a daft sensibility similar to Undertale or Frog Fractions.

Slime-San and it’s expansion have been lavished in a level of detail and care that seems to have gone widely unnoticed in the Steam ecosystem and that’s a real shame. If you’re in the mood for a tightly constructed platformer with beautifully detailed NES-era graphics and a soundtrack that picks at those nostalgic heart strings, Slime-San is worth the purchase.