The Netflix Game is a unique take on platformers

The Netflix Game is a unique take on platformers: When you think of platformers, you probably think of jumping. The simple action is a staple of the genre, whether we’re talking about classic side-scrolling adventures or massive three-dimensional worlds. But Lucky Luna, the latest release on Netflix’s new games service, offers something different: It removes the jump altogether.

Lucky Luna takes place in a beautiful pixel art world of ancient ruins and tasks players with navigating levels to uncover its secrets. It features many staples of the genre, such as collectible orbs, hidden areas, moving platforms, deadly spikes, and enemies that move in specific patterns. Lack of turn jump button. Lucky Luna doesn’t have any on-screen buttons at all. To move, you just swipe left or right. A hard swipe will make Luna appear on the dash screen, while lighter taps will result in smaller movements. Navigating safely involves using these limited options with smart timing to avoid obstacles and reach the end of each stage.

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I’ve played the first few levels, and while I can say that Lucky Luna is quite challenging, I was also surprised by how quickly I adapted to the lack of a jump button. After a few steps, I didn’t miss it at all; The vertical levels are cleverly designed around the swipe mechanic, which feels intuitive once you learn to skip jumps. It’s like an inversion of Super Mario Run, another take on a mobile platformer but one where jumping is the main way to interact with the world.

The Netflix Game is a unique take on platformers
The Netflix Game is a unique take on platformers

According to Andrew Schimmel, a producer at developer Snowman — best known for the Alto series of snowboarding games — the idea was to “recreate the classic experiences we grew up on but not match. We didn’t feel like an endless runner could capture the feel we were going for. The decision to remove the jump button came later in development, but naturally, it had a big impact on the experience. “It was a challenge, but it allowed us to lean into the level design and be more creative,” he explains. “So we just went with one touch and then introduced something new to each level. let’s try.”

Although Netflix began its mobile gaming efforts last year, the service has yet to gain much traction since then. That said, the quality of available games has improved, with notable titles like Into the Breach and Heads Up coming to the service. For The Snowman, the potential Netflix audience was something the studio couldn’t turn down. “We’ve reached a lot of people with some of our previous work, but this is like a whole new potential audience,” explains Ryan Cash, Snowman’s creative director. “And I think it’s always exciting to be a part of something even in the early days. That’s attractive to us.”

On mobile, Netflix joins Apple Arcade as part of the growing scene of subscription games. And Snowman has been heavily involved in this scene. The studio has released several games on the arcade, including an enhanced edition of the hit Alto’s Odyssey. The rise of these services has opened up a new avenue for game developers, offering a way to release quality premium experiences without having to worry about how to monetize them. Cash predicts more changes in the space over the next few years — and for now, Snowman has a front-row seat. “We’re just kind of watching it unfold before us.”

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