This is the seventh entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the
1704 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
Our seventh random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is Mobility! by Auroriax (Tom H.), which cheats a tiny bit by listing itself as “Mobility! Accessible precision platformer” so that it doesn’t need to cover that in the tagline. Instead, its tagline in the bundle reads:
Jump, spin and flip to fix broken spaceships!
That sounds like something I can get behind!
Reader, I have actually played Mobility! before. I forget where I read about it, but I tried it out in my browser at one point (the version available from itch can be played in a browser or downloaded and run separately). I did not play for very long, as it didn’t quite click with me right away and then I had other stuff to do. This time, I downloaded the standalone version and resolved to give it a fair shake.
As implied above, Mobility! aims to make the precision platformer genre, which is often very difficult, a bit more accessible. It does this by offering a suite of accessibility options such as slowing down the game or visually displaying which inputs are being pressed, and through several difficulty settings that change the mechanical challenges involved. Players take control of a new trainee at Mobility, a company specializing in spaceship repairs. Mobility believes in learning by doing, so the trainee is tasked with fixing up some spaceships that are having trouble, accomplished by accessing several small rooms on each ship and powering up components (platforms) by touching all of them at least once. Or, actually, that depends on the difficulty setting. On the easiest setting, Radius, the trainee only needs to get close to each platform to activate it. One level up is Contact, where the trainee needs to touch each platform, either by standing on it or sliding along the side (hitting it from below doesn’t work anymore). The next level up is Vanish, where the platforms disappear shortly after being touched (or rather, after the trainee disengages). And on the hardest setting, Growth, platforms become electrically charged after being activated, with the deadly electricity slowly radiating outward over time.
Players choose which difficulty setting to use at the start of each room, with completion times tracked separately for each setting. I played most of the game on the Contact setting, but experimented with Vanish and Growth, and went back to play through the first spaceship on Growth later. These settings not only affect how challenging the game is, but also how one approaches each room, so there’s a lot of variety when revisiting earlier rooms. The design philosophy seems rooted in speedrunning, although without the typical high difficulty, with rooms usually having a clear route to follow as indicated by wires between the platforms. Moving optimally through a room feels great, as the trainee bounds across platforms, leaps off of walls, grinds along rails, and evades deadly obstacles. Controls are simple, with just the directional inputs and a jump button, but there are a few extra moves available. The trainee can jump a second time while midair, but this is called a “spin jump” rather than a “double jump”, as that term is reserved for a jump performed immediately after landing another jump, letting the trainee gain some extra height. There’s also a long jump, executed by jumping from a crouch, which is useful when too much height would hit overhead obstacles.
Everything is presented with a single color gradient, with each spaceship having its own color. I enjoyed exploring the spaceships and chatting with the crew, uncovering additional details about the lighthearted and whimsical story. I spent a good deal of time just moving around in between the rooms proper, learning the layout of each spaceship. The rooms themselves are more abstract in presentation, and the horizontal lines in the background brings to mind sketches on looseleaf paper. But later I wondered if the lines are there to help the most dedicated players gauge the heights of platforms and obstacles as they try to shave a few milliseconds off of their time. Such perfection is by no means required; players don’t even need to complete every room on a spaceship before they are able to move on with the story. But Mobility! gently encourages its players to try rooms again, experiment with different difficulty settings, and try to set new speed records.
I quite enjoyed Mobility! this time. I’m not sure why I didn’t get on with it before. It’s very easygoing about everything, letting players decide how much challenge they want. Moving the trainee around feels good, and focus on touching all the surfaces in each level while weaving through it at speed is different enough from most precision platformers that Mobility! feels like it’s own thing. If anything, it gave me the impression of a simpler, less punishing Dustforce, which is very welcome since Dustforce demanded too much perfection for me. With most rooms in Mobility! taking less than a minute to clear, and handful of rooms on each of the four spaceships, it doesn’t take long to finish the story, but players looking for more can return on higher difficulty settings or work on getting faster runs. Others, like me, won’t mind a short but satisfying run through the game. It’s definitely worth a look!
That’s seven down, and only
1697 1734 to go.