Spark the Electric Jester

Spark the Electric Jester is a 2017 platform game created by Brazilian developer Felipe Daneluz, also known by his pseudonym LakeFeperd. The story follows the titular Spark as he embarks on a journey to stop a mobilizing army of robots from taking over the world. Gameplay involves a mix of fast-paced platforming and melee combat over a series of differently themed levels. An array of power-ups are distributed throughout, each characterized by a unique set of abilities for use in battle and traversal.

Spark the Electric Jester
Spark the Electric Jester (2017 video game) cover.jpg
Developer(s)Felipe Daneluz
Publisher(s)Feperd Games
Composer(s)Andy Tunstall
Falk Au Yeong
Funk Fiction
Michael Staple
Paul Bethers
James Landino
SeriesSpark the Electric Jester
EngineClickteam Fusion
Platform(s)Windows
ReleaseApril 10, 2017
Genre(s)Platform
Mode(s)Single-player

Daneluz was previously known for creating a variety of fangames based off the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and would draw inspiration from his work in the creation of Spark, which was to be his first commercial title. Daneluz’s game design was influenced by 16-bit platforming games, including Sonic, Kirby Super Star, and Mega Man X. Outside of music composition, he developed the game alone using Clickteam software. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Spark was eventually released for Windows to positive reception. Journalists made favorable comparisons to the classic Sonic games and directed praise towards its mechanics, replay value, and soundtrack, with criticism primarily focused around its easy difficulty and performance issues. A sequel, Spark the Electric Jester 2, was released in May 2019, while a third entry, Spark 3, was announced in September 2020.

GameplayEdit

 
Spark with the Cool power-up equipped, enabling him to run on water. He approaches a pair of Bits situated below a health capsule.

Spark the Electric Jester is a 2D side-scrolling platformer inspired by 16-bit era console games. The player must guide the eponymous Spark through a series of differently themed levels, each typically containing an assortment of obstacles, robotic enemies, and boss fights. Spark's momentum is reactive to level terrain, gaining and losing speed accordingly from inclines and vertical loops.[1][2] The player's base traversal abilities consist of a jump,[1] wall jump, and a dash to accelerate forward.[3] The dash can also be leveraged to parry enemy attacks,[2] harmful projectiles, and various level hazards when initiated upon collision.[4] Enemies are dispatched through melee attacks,[2] of which three can be chained together into a combo.[3] Additionally, the player is capable of releasing charged shots horizontally and vertically.[5] Dealing attacks will prompt a blue meter, referred to as the "Static Bar", to rise.[6] The Static Bar must be continuously built up through attacking or it will begin to deplete, and empties if damage is received.[4] Once full, it can be expended by releasing a charged shot, enhanced with greater strength.[3] A variety of power-ups are distributed across the levels,[7] each characterized by a unique moveset and cosmetic change to Spark.[1][2] They endow the player with either different attacks, traversal abilities, or both.[8] If damaged, an equipped power may release from the player and be lost if not quickly retrieved.[9] The player can switch between and manually release powers at any time, two of which can be held at once.[5][10]

Two types of collectibles are obtainable. Yellow capsules replenish one of six hit points.[4] Smaller collectibles, entitled Bits,[11] slowly fill a meter located in the heads-up display. If the player takes damage with no hit points remaining, Spark will die and return to the last checkpoint reached, at which progress is saved, with the meter reset. If Spark dies and the meter is full, however, he will be promptly revived with fully replenished hit points. A life system, typically employed in 16-bit platformers, is absent.[4]

Completing the game will unlock Fark, Spark's doppelgänger, as a playable character.[9] Differences in his campaign include the absence of power-ups,[4] fewer hit points, altered level design, new boss fights, and a unique moveset.[8][a] As Fark, the player is able to double jump and walk on walls and ceilings.[12][13] Chaining together at least three regular attacks beforehand will strengthen their next upward or lower attack.[14][15] The Static Bar also functions differently, as it does not deplete on its own and increases at a more gradual rate. It is built up through a similar method by attacking enemies, as well as through collecting blue capsules and successfully executing parries.[4][16] Depending on the timing, a parry may either increase or decrease the Static Bar.[2] Perfectly timed parries will net additional increment.[16] If the bar reaches a certain threshold, it can be expended for temporary invincibility and increased strength, alongside full health replenishment.[17] Once the bar is completely full, Fark will enter a powerful state.[2] Taking damage will deplete it, causing him to revert to his normal form.[4]

Additional content can be unlocked, including time attack and challenge modes.[5] Hard modes are also available for both characters and introduce modifications to enemy placement, bosses, and the player's amount of hit points.[18]

PlotEdit

The story begins with Spark, a yellow anthropomorphic character of the Formie species, explaining his origins to the player. After obtaining a job as a circus performer, Spark was replaced with a robot bearing a close resemblance to himself. In the present day, Spark overlooks his city in discontent, lamenting the increasing presence of robots in his society. As the robots abruptly begin to attack the people of the city, Spark intervenes to stop them. After Spark defeats the robots throughout the city, he encounters his look-alike from the circus. The look-alike taunts him before running off, igniting a rivalry between the two. Spark subsequently travels across the planet to fight the mobilizing robotic army, learning of their plans for world domination. He dubs his look-alike "Fark", a portmanteau of "Spark" and "fake".

Spark is eventually introduced to a small group of friendly robots and an engineer named Doctor Armstrong. Armstrong explains that he created an autonomous robot to guard Megaraph, a towering robot production facility. The robot, dubbing himself Freom, developed a dogmatic personality and amassed an army through the dissemination of a computer virus. Armstrong also discovered that Fark's intended purpose was to masquerade as an ally of Freom and eventually betray him, but had been unsuccessful in doing so. Armstrong enlists Spark to infiltrate Freom’s battle airships as well as Megaraph, where Spark can confront him.

After defeating Fark in a final duel, Spark ascends up Megaraph and encounters Freom sitting atop a throne of machinery. Freom reveals his plan to launch the facility into the planet's orbital ring, bringing about a mass extinction. As Megaraph lifts off into space, Fark thrusts his staff into the sky to aid Spark from the surface. Brandishing the staff, Spark transforms into a more powerful form and pursues Freom up to Megaraph's peak. With his newfound strength, he is able to defeat Freom and thwart his plans.

Development and releaseEdit

 
Screenshot from After the Sequel, one of Daneluz's fangames. The design of "Beam Sonic", as depicted in the screenshot was used as the basis for Spark's design.

Hailing from São Paulo, Brazil, Spark the Electric Jester was created by Felipe Daneluz, known online by his internet alias LakeFeperd. He first immersed himself in game development in late 2010 after having discovered the open-source game engine Sonic Worlds.[19][20] The framework was developed by collaborators from the Sonic Fan Games HQ website for designing Sonic the Hedgehog-style levels within the Multimedia Fusion 2 program.[19][20][21] Daneluz had desired to create a game based off the franchise since he was a child, and would find the engine to be "easy to use" due to its accessibility to those lacking programming experience.[19][20] He went on to develop three 2D Sonic fangames while attending college as a game design student, these consisting of Sonic: Before the Sequel, After the Sequel, and Chrono Adventure.[20] In addition to over 120,000 total downloads, the games received positive online coverage for their music and replication of the official series' classic gameplay.[21][22][23][24][25]

The idea for Spark originated from After the Sequel. The game contained a power-up derived from the Kirby series,[26] endowing Sonic with a jester-like appearance and the ability to generate fireballs.[21] Daneluz was curious as to what the power-up would look like as its own unique character,[26] and would be influenced by other games, such as Ristar, during his design process for what was to be Spark. He found that initial reactions to the character's design were poor and would attempt to retool it, but concluded that it just needed refinement.[27] Work on the game had begun by the time of Chrono Adventure's development. Daneluz intended for it to be different from Sonic, recounting the gameplay as initially slow, similar to Mega Man, and more mechanically simple than the final release. He found this early iteration to be dull, and implemented Sonic elements, such as speed and vertical loops, as a result.[28]: 13:01–14:55 

A month-long Kickstarter campaign was launched in late July of 2015,[29] accompanied by a demo containing three levels.[30] The fundraiser earned over US$ 9000 from the contribution of 440 backers, surpassing its funding goal of US$ 7,000.[7][31] Daneluz claimed that a "majority of the game's initial development" was complete by the campaign's launch and planned to allocate funds towards sound design and the soundtrack.[32] It was composed by the musicians Andy Tunstall, Falk Au Yeong, Funk Fiction (Pejman Roozbeh), and James Landino, all of whom had previously collaborated together on Daneluz's fangames,[19][33] as well as Michael Staple, a composer for After the Sequel,[34] and Paul Bethers.[35] Alongside music composition, Landino served as the audio lead and helped manage the musicians.[36] Tunstall also served as a sound designer and provided concept and cover art.[27][32][37] All other aspects of the game were handled by Daneluz,[38] who balanced its development with his coursework.[28]: 18:44-19:27  Spark was created atop the code from his fangames initially in Multimedia Fusion 2 before later transitioning to Clickteam Fusion 2.5.[28]: 20:09–20:41  Aside from Sonic, the Mega Man X titles and Kirby Super Star were its biggest influences alongside Bayonetta and the Super Smash Bros. series.[26] The character of Fark was inspired by rival characters from multiple video game series, such as Mega Man's Zero, Kirby's Meta Knight, and Sonic the Hedgehog's Metal Sonic and Shadow, while Freom was inspired by Dragon Ball's Frieza.[27]

Spark was originally projected for an early 2016 launch on Windows and OS X platforms,[32] but its release window would be moved to August before launching properly on April 10, 2017.[7][8] It was published under Daneluz's studio name, Feperd Games, exclusively for Windows via Steam as his first commercial release.[2][8][28]: 17:10–17:18  An update was released in mid-2018, including various fixes, a rewritten story, and the addition of hard modes.[5][18]

ReceptionEdit

Coverage of Spark was positive. Journalists felt that its influences were incorporated and iterated on successfully, with the game most favorably compared to the classic Sonic titles.[2][5][8][9] Writing for the gaming website Hey Poor Player, Delano Cuzzucoli characterized the amount of power-ups as "extensive" and viewed them as "a major draw to the game".[9] Amr Al-Aaser of Rock Paper Shotgun commended Spark for its variety of ideas in both its level gimmicks and power-ups, and opined that it would "remix and refresh old ideas with its own, instead of being content to pay homage".[2] The power-ups were described as more in-depth than those in Sonic 3 & Knuckles by Destructoid's Jed Whitaker, who accredited them towards elevating Spark's quality to that of the classic Sonic titles. Whitaker also drew attention to its unlockable modes and wrote that there was "a plethora of content and playtime".[8] Cuzzucoli echoed a similar sentiment, citing replay value as one of the game's strengths. However, he commented that occasional portions of the levels felt vacuous.[9] The soundtrack received positive reactions and similar comparisons to the Sonic series.[2][5][8][9] It was described as energetic and powerful by Al-Aaser,[2] and Whitaker believed it was of equal quality to the series' music.[8] Additionally, Cuzzucoli highlighted the soundtrack as Spark's strongest point.[9]

Most journalists covering Spark thought of it as initially easy.[5][8][9] Cuzzucoli and Whitaker considered Fark's campaign to be more challenging than Spark's, with the former declaring it superior due to its greater difficulty.[8][9] Alternatively, Richard Seagrave of GameSpew suggested hard mode to those seeking a challenge.[5] Cuzzucoli also expressed that while he had seen nicer pixel art elsewhere, he still felt that the graphics were visually appealing and better than those in Daneluz's fangames.[9] Seagrave singled out the game's performance as its biggest downside, acknowledging Daneluz's efforts to address frame rate issues but noting that some still remained.[5]

SequelsEdit

On September 12, 2017, a successor under the title of Fark the Electric Jester was announced.[39] It was developed with Unity[40] and released on May 16, 2019, through Steam as Spark the Electric Jester 2. Unlike its predecessor, Spark the Electric Jester 2 features 3D gameplay and stars Fark as its protagonist.[41]

Spark the Electric Jester 3 was concurrently announced on September 7, 2020, with the release of Spark 2 for the Xbox One.[42][43] The game will reintroduce Spark as the protagonist and is set to iterate on the 3D gameplay established in the second title.[44]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Fark's campaign has been retconned as of the mid-2018 update.[45]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Spark the Electric Jester PC - Encyklopedia Gier" [Spark the Electric Jester PC - Games Encyclopedia]. Gry-Online (in Polish). Gry-Online S.A. Archived from the original on April 30, 2022. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Al-Aaser, Amr (January 30, 2018). "Spark the Electric Jester is more than mere homage". Rock Paper Shotgun. Archived from the original on January 30, 2018. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Khan, Jahanzeb (July 30, 2015). "Spark the Electric Jester is a Shockingly Fine Platformer". Hardcore Gamer. Archived from the original on April 30, 2022. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Seagrave, Richard (July 26, 2018). "Spark the Electric Jester is the Best Sonic Game That Isn't a Sonic Game". GameSpew. Archived from the original on April 30, 2022. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  6. ^ Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Tutorial (Spark's Story): Hit the dummy with normal attacks. A blue bar will fill up. That's your static bar, you build it up by attacking. Once the bar is full, use a charged shot.
  7. ^ a b c Ai-Dail-le-fort (September 2, 2015). "Spark The Electric Jester : Un nouveau Sonic-like financé sur Kickstarter" [Spark The Electric Jester : A new Sonic-like funded on Kickstarter]. Jeuxvideo.com (in French). Webedia. Archived from the original on April 2, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Whitaker, Jed (May 15, 2017). "Review: Spark the Electric Jester". Destructoid. Archived from the original on April 7, 2022. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cuzzucoli, Delano (April 25, 2017). "Spark The Electric Jester Review (PC)". Hey Poor Player. Archived from the original on May 20, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  10. ^ Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Splash Screen: Backspace - Release Power
  11. ^ Feperd Games (May 16, 2019). Spark the Electric Jester 2. F.M City: + 200 Bit!
  12. ^ Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Pause Menu (Fark's Story): Wall Climb: Hold the attack button to walk on any walls, hold up to cling to the ceiling.
  13. ^ Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Tutorial (Fark's Story): Fark can also double jump and walk on any wall by holding down the attack button.
  14. ^ Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Tutorial (Fark's Story): Fark also has up and down attacks, those can be powered up by attacking three times and then doing an up or down attack.
  15. ^ Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Pause Menu (Fark's Story): Up and Down attacks: Press up and down plus attack. You can power up those attacks by doing three regular attacks.
  16. ^ a b Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Tutorial (Fark's Story): You can gain static by attacking enemies or parrying attacks. You can gain lot more by perfectly parrying enemy attacks.
  17. ^ Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Pause Menu (Fark's Story): Static Bar: Once the bar is over the mark, press down plus parry to release Static mode and fully heal yourself. Static Mode: During static mode, you are invincible and your attacks get a power boost.
  18. ^ a b Feperd Games (June 14, 2018). "Spark - Update 1.5 Coming Soon!". Archived from the original on June 25, 2022. Retrieved February 4, 2019 – via Steam.
  19. ^ a b c d Balzani, Louis (August 9, 2012). "SAGE 2012: Sonic Before (and After) the Sequel". TSSZ News (interview with LakeFeperd). Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  20. ^ a b c d Sillis, Ben (March 19, 2014). "The fan made Sonic trilogy you have to play". Red Bull. Archived from the original on March 24, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  21. ^ a b c ExServ (June 8, 2017). "Sonic Before et After the Sequels" [Sonic Before and After the Sequels]. Gamekult (in French). Archived from the original on June 10, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  22. ^ Ponce, Tony (July 8, 2013). "Sonic After the Sequel fan game has the BEST MUSIC EVER". Destructoid. Archived from the original on November 21, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  23. ^ Polson, John (July 14, 2013). "Fan Game Picks: MegaMan Unlimited and Sonic After the Sequel". IndieGames.com. Archived from the original on July 18, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  24. ^ McFerran, Damien (March 20, 2014). "How One Man Is Giving Sonic Fans The Game They Want To Play". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on March 22, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  25. ^ Red Bull UK (August 30, 2013). "Extra life: The amazing fan-made game revivals". Red Bull. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  26. ^ a b c Motwera (December 21, 2016). "Interview with LakeFeperd on Spark the Electric Jester & Sonic Before/After the Sequel". 3WIREL!. Archived from the original on August 14, 2017. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  27. ^ a b c LakeFeperd (July 3, 2017). "Spark the Electric Jester: Artbook". Archived from the original on January 17, 2021. Retrieved February 4, 2019 – via Imgur.
  28. ^ a b c d "Interview with the Creator of 'Spark The Electric Jester 2' (LakeFeperd)". May 26, 2019. Archived from the original on June 10, 2022. Retrieved June 4, 2022 – via YouTube.
  29. ^ Khan, Jahanzeb (July 28, 2015). "Spark Surges Onto Kickstarter with Electrifying Demo". Hardcore Gamer. Archived from the original on June 3, 2022. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  30. ^ Parlock, Joe (July 29, 2015). "Spark the Electric Jester, a 2D Sonic-inspired platformer, is on Kickstarter". Destructoid. Archived from the original on April 30, 2022. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  31. ^ Jarod (March 31, 2017). "Spark The Electric Jester". Gamekult (in French). Archived from the original on April 7, 2017. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  32. ^ a b c Priestman, Chris (July 29, 2015). "Genesis-Style Platformer Spark The Electric Jester Should Be Out Early 2016". Siliconera. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  33. ^ Penwell, Chris (October 28, 2020). "An Interview with James Landino". GameGrooves. Archived from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  34. ^ LakeFeperd (June 15, 2013). Sonic: After the Sequel. Credits: RedHot Ride Zone: Newcomer DJ Max-E struts his stuff! The end of the 'middle section' of the game, we chose to score this in a very chilled way.
  35. ^ "Spark: The Electric Jester (Original Game Soundtrack)". Rare Drop. April 25, 2017. Archived from the original on October 1, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2022 – via Bandcamp.
  36. ^ "Spark: The Electric Jester". www.jameslandino.com. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  37. ^ "We got ourselves a cover art guys!". Spark the Electric Jester Dev Diary. February 12, 2016. Archived from the original on March 3, 2019. Retrieved June 4, 2022 – via Tumblr.
  38. ^ Feperd Games (April 10, 2017). Spark the Electric Jester. Credits (Spark's Story): Game developed by: Felipe Ribeiro Daneluz 'LakeFeperd'
  39. ^ LakeFeperd (September 12, 2017). "Fark the Electric Jester - Announcement Trailer". Archived from the original on June 10, 2022. Retrieved December 23, 2018 – via YouTube.
  40. ^ Feperd Games (May 16, 2019). Spark the Electric Jester 2. Credits: Engine: Unity 2017.4.14f1
  41. ^ Tarason, Dominic (May 3, 2019). "Spark The Electric Jester 2 speeds towards a May 16th launch". Rock Paper Shotgun. Archived from the original on May 8, 2021. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  42. ^ Romano, Sal (September 7, 2020). "Spark the Electric Jester 2 now available for Xbox One". Gematsu. Archived from the original on September 7, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  43. ^ Romano, Sal (September 7, 2020). "Spark the Electric Jester 3 announced for PC". Gematsu. Archived from the original on September 7, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  44. ^ Bashir, Dale (September 8, 2020). "Spark The Electric Jester 3 Brings Refinement to High-Speed Action Platforming". IGN. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  45. ^ Feperd Games (June 20, 2018). Spark the Electric Jester (v1.5). Opening (Fark's Story): This is an alternate world. Where things played off differently. Fark's true destiny lies somewhere else.

External LinksEdit