Elementals

Elementals is a 2D free roaming platform game involving the adventures of three anthropomorphic elements: Iron, Nitrogen and Radon.

In Elementals, the despotic Plutonium Overlord rules over the Imperial Table of Elements alongside other noble gases.  However, Radon, realizing such tyranny, betrayed Plutonium and recruited two other elements, Iron and Nitrogen, to put an end to the madness. The player controls all three characters and uses their abilities to gather protons, neutrons and electrons to get enough fuel for their ship in order to travel to the heart of the empire.  Three protons are found on each of the five planets of Plutonium’s Empire.  As the protons are the main fuel for the ship, these are vital to collect to reach Plutonium’s Fortress.

There are five planets to explore in the game; each are free roaming worlds littered with subatomic particles and obstacles to overcome. Plutonium is not willing to let the trio interfere with his plans, and he keeps his empire in order with his goons, such as the Potassium-throwing banana and the swimming blob of Mercury.   Fortunately, Iron, Nitrogen and Radon have means of defeating these enemies.  The player must change between characters to overcome the obstacles of the level.

After collecting different parts of the periodic table as well as  the many subatomic particles, the team finally arrives at Plutonium’s Fortress.  There, each hero battles the overlord to eventually dethrone him and restore peace to the universe.

How to play:

Saving/Loading: Elementals allows one save file per computer.  The actual save data, like every other game on Krayfish Entertainment, is stored in your browser files so you don’t have to worry about any sort of downloads or anything like that.  Upon starting a new game, you will watch an animated intro where you will then be taken to the map screen where your progress is automatically saved.  Whenever you quit out of the browser, you may resume your progress by selecting Continue on the title screen.

Map Screen: The map screen displays a list of possible place to explore.  Hover the mouse over a particular planet for more information, and click on it to travel there.  The transparent planets cannot be explored yet as Radon’s ship does not have enough fuel.   To unlock these new levels,  explore the available planets and collect  more subatomic particles.

Controls: Use the arrow keys to move your character.  To jump, press the ‘A’ key, but holding the key down will give your character more air time allowing him/her to leap over larger gaps and taller walls.  The ‘S’ key is the attack button which is unique to each of the three elements.

Character Abilities: Iron, Nitrogen and Radon have unique abilities, and the player will use all three of them in order to overcome the level’s obstacles.  To change characters, find a Character Switcher (shaped like a vial with arrows on it) and use the up or down arrow keys to cycle through characters.  Iron has the ability to walk on ceilings which can be done by pressing the up arrow when standing on a Gravity Lift.  To get back down, press the down arrow.  This ability can be used to cross gaps that would be otherwise impossible to get across.  Nitrogen has the ability to shoot projectiles unlike the other characters (which can be done by pressing the ‘S’ key.)  She can also walk on the surface of any liquid, including dangerous ones.  Radon is the only character that can swim with the arrow keys.

Exploring a level: When exploring a level, the player must help Iron, Nitrogen and Radon find different subatomic particles.  It is imperative to collect  three protons which are represented by a yellow coin with a blue plus.  Watch out for Plutonium’s minions who can reduce a character’s life bar.  To restore health, collect electrons indicated with a red coin with a blue minus sign.  While searching for protons, also look out for neutrons as one can improve their score for a particular level by collecting  them.  (Indicated by a blue coin.)

Enemies:

Watch out for these guys and be careful.

Potassium: Potassium is a substance that is very reactive with water.  It can also be found in foods such as bananas.  Potassium is the basic infantry of the Overlord, which throw blocks at the heroes.  Yet, they can easily be defeated with any attack.

Mercury: Mercury is a silvery, metallic liquid that was often used in thermometers.  However, it is very toxic.  Mercury, as seen in the game, is a floating blob that stalks the waters, but any attack can defeat them.

Helium: Helium is an inert gas lighter than air.  Often it is found in balloons and if inhaled, raises the pitch of one’s voice.  Helium drops bombs from above, but this enemy can be defeated with any attack.

Sulphur: Sulphur, is a side product of industrial processes such as oil refining.  In Elementals, it is stationary and rotates about firing sulphur gas.  Although they cannot be defeated, they do not move, so they can easily be outrun.

Fluorine: Fluorine is a poisonous substance, but can be used in pesticides.  It’s similar to Helium, but it attacks by firing bullets side to side.  It can be defeated with any attack.

Uranium: Uranium is a radioactive substance often used in the creation of nuclear weaponry and power plants.   Uranium, as seen in the game, will wait until its target gets close enough, then it launches itself at the character.  Avoid it since it cannot be defeated.

Cobalt: Cobalt is a magnetic substance often used for the color blue.  In the game, Cobalt jumps around and shoots spikes so be careful.  They can easily be defeated with any attack.

Gold: Gold is a valuable mineral often used in currency.  It is also malleable and conductive just like copper.  Gold cannot be defeated, but it can be easily outrun because it does not move.

Copper: Just like its cousin gold, copper is very malleable and can be shaped into wiring.  One of the strongest of Plutonium’s minions, it moves around and shoots electricity similar to Gold.  However, Copper can be defeated with any attack.

Obstacles:

Minions are not the only thing that may get in the heroes’ way.  Many obstacles are littered throughout the levels.

Clouds: Iron is too heavy to walk on clouds so only Radon and Nitrogen can stand on them.

Gratings: Nitrogen and Radon can pass through metal gratings, but Iron cannot.

Switches: Activating a switch will change the environment.  It can be anything from removing a wall to making a cloud appear.

Mercury: Mercury is deadly to all except Nitrogen.  If Iron or Radon were to touch it, they will instantly be defeated.  Warning signs  mark where they are located.

Water: Water can be walked on by Nitrogen and Radon.  However, although Radon can swim in it, he cannot jump on the surface of it.  Iron, on the other hand, sinks to the bottom.

Geysers: Geysers are rising and falling spouts of water.  Iron passes through them, but Nitrogen and Radon ride them.

Trivia/Behind the Scenes

Elementals was originally created in 2011.  Unlike Seedling which required a remake from the ground up, Elementals was very easy to convert to flash as it was more efficiently coded and overall much easier to edit.  In fact, if Elementals feels similar to Droplet 2013, that’s because at some point during development, the game started off as a heavily modified version of Elementals before it was rewritten in the “Droplet out of beta!” news update.

There are hidden cameos of Droplet and the rat in Chef Pierre’s Cooking Craziness somewhere in the game.  Can you find them?

Development

Elementals was the final class project.  While Seedling received overall good reception, it was not nearly as acclaimed as Droplet was.  This time around, we decided to opt for making it a spiritual successor to Droplet, borrowing the nonlinear gameplay from a previous title Chef Pierre’s Cooking Craziness.  We also wanted to expand on the puzzle solving elements seen in the original Droplet by introducing multiple characters that had entirely different skillsets.

To compensate for the game’s shorter length, we decided to make the game as graphically appealing as we could.  For the game, we were allowed to borrow an industry-standard 3D rendering software allowing us to create digitized, prerendered characters – something we had never done before.  We also borrowed images from NASA to use as backgrounds.  (Unfortunately, these backgrounds were removed for the flash version in interest of keeping the game’s file size more reasonable.)

Elementals was also the first game I worked on where I didn’t compose the music myself.  This was another team project but with different members, so we divided the work differently.  Also, I was looking to have a soundtrack that was of a different style than I would make.

Overall, the game was pretty easy to develop (and very easy to convert to flash taking only a matter of days).  It took much longer to create the graphics than it did to actually develop the game.  Ultimately though, I wish I could have included more in Elementals.  There was so much I wanted to do, but there were time constraints.  After this project, I took a break from creating games until I decided to make Droplet 2013 the next year.

Cutting Room Floor

The mechanics of the game had changed significantly over the course of development, leading to many variations of the levels found in the final game.  Ultimately five levels were settled upon and graphics were given a heavy emphasis.  For the flash version, many detailed space background images had to be removed to keep the game’s file size reasonable for browser play.  With the images, the game would have been well over 80 MB!

Elementals also saw a handful of cut content.  Iron originally had the ability to flip upside down anywhere, but we decided against this to allow more room for the other characters to solve puzzles.  There’s also an Arsenic enemy in the code which is a green, barrel-like enemy that was supposed to appear in Mercury Caves, but it was scrapped due to numerous physics-related bugs.  The behavior of this enemy is comparable to the rolling spikeballs that appear in Droplet 2013.

Magnet City was the first level to be created during development, and was primarily used to test the characters’ various abilities.  The earliest version of the level can still be found in the game’s code (internally known as Nullword), though through the course of development, it became a scratch pad for new objects and enemies.

Several levels also underwent name changes.  Conductive Oceans was originally called “Boilchill Oceans” because the level was going to constantly change between hot and cold.  As the idea was scrapped, the level name was no longer an accurate description.  Likewise, “Electric Storm Castle” was changed to “Nuclear Stronghold” because  the level was going to have constant electrical storms in the background.  In order to make the level easier on the eyes, we decided against having flashing lights in the background.

Graphics

Elementals is the first game in Krayfish Entertainment to use prerendered graphics – 3D models were drawn with another software, and then digitized into 2D sprites.  This was a technique very popular in the 1990s seen with games such as Donkey Kong Country.  Not as common today, the overall style of Elementals was meant to pay homage to that era of gaming.  Cel-shaded, 2D sprites are still much easier to draw, but the 3D style may be seen again in future games.


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