Not Without My Donuts is an easy to play, fun 2D arcade-style platform shooter for one or two players simultaneous. The story is simple with a fantastic introduction sequence. You’re a cupcake in a world now infested with bugs. Your job is to defend the donuts, your only food source. Yes cupcakes eating even smaller donuts.
Its not about the story though, you’re here to have addictive fun while shooting adorable yet icky bugs in the face so you can collect donuts. The object is to collect as many donuts as you can before you inevitably succumb. Collecting each donuts spawns another in a new random place. This makes the game engaging, because its always a new challenge. You’ll have to get to another random place on screen that is constantly filling with enemies. Since there’s only one doughnut at a time, two players will have to compete to get them.
You start out with no weapons, but for each cupcake that you get, it will change your weapon to a random new weapon that you’ve unlocked. To unlock new weapons you’ll have to pick up enough donuts. Its a question of just how many donuts you’ll need before the next unlock. I think it would enhance things to know how many until the next unlock.
The weapons feel good, but the default laser feels like the strongest. Its a straight forward beam that blasts through anything that touches it. From there, they only feel weaker. A simple pistol, a very short range, three bullet shotgun that pushes you back slightly. Both weapons fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. After that comes a devastating rocket launcher so powerful that you can destroy ladders. That’s okay though, they only get in your way. There are a dozen or so weapons to keep things fresh.
The controls are simple and perfect. Its easy to just play a game, get your fun, get addicted then go, like a quick fix. Movement feels fast, but a bit slippery. There’s native 360 controller support and keyboard support. You’ve got left and right to move, one button to shoot and a double jump. You can even climb ladders, but who wants to do that when double jumping is so effortless?
To keep things interesting there is a store every time you play. You’ll be able to buy things with the donuts you’ve collected. Stuff like an extra life, a 20 second shield, a freeze ray and much more. There are even secondary weapons like pipe bombs and fat firework missiles. Some of the things feel unnecessary like ladder climb speed and even a speed boost in general. Your character already moves so fast that going even faster would be a detriment.
With all of these nifty items, they still feel almost like a waste. It takes an excessive amount of donuts for some of the better items and as soon as its game over you lose them. Each item like the pipe bombs and shield have limited uses, so I feel like it would be a better use of the donuts if they regenerate in time even if death takes the items away from you.
You’re also forced to enter the store after each game over. I feel like I’d rather stay in the game than have the slow pace of the store bring down the frenzy I was just in. You can still exit the store within a split second though. Exit so fast that it doesn’t have a chance for the music to stop so it plays twice on your next game. I’m sure that’s a glitch that can or will be fixed and its nothing game breaking.
This is a simple game, each of the three levels is only one screen like the classic Mario Bros arcade game. Going through the open left side of the screen sends you through the right side of the screen. Dropping through the pit at the bottom sends you to the top of the screen with brief invulnerability. However, you don’t want to be near the top of the screen, because that’s where the bugs drop in.
There are white bugs and black bugs indicating how fast they go. They also come in two sizes, which tells you how much damage they take. Its more than just bugs though, there are green apple flies that follow you no matter where you go. They can even hover through platforms. Turrets pop up from the floor and fire rockets at you. Each turret has three lights indicating how close they are to firing, because with so much action going on at once, you just can’t keep track of their timing.
What you also can’t keep track of is how many times you were it. You can take three hits. Each hit kills the bug that hit you. Three hits and its game over. There’s no sort of indicator on screen, nor could I find any sort of inkling like how some games go black and white or red when you take damage.
Now for the definite downside to the game; it ramps up the difficulty far too fast. It quickly goes from two bugs at a time to a screen full of them. It makes it difficult to even gain ground with some of the lesser weapons. Each bug that falls through he pit drops in from the sky again. Having donuts on the top platform becomes nearly impossible to get. That’s why you need to be fast. Once you get up to fifteen donuts, the game releases a boss crab. This crab is fast and has a health meter, so you know it’ll take a lot of damage.
It seems as if the game is stuck on a bonkers difficulty with no way to change it. The game still runs at a smooth framerate even with dozens of enemies on screen. The second level’s difficulty is even steeper. Enemies drop in at a rapid pace before you’ve even had a chance to get a few donuts. The arcades would have loved this to eat quarters, but it already has your money, you just need its donuts.
The intro itself is great and feels like a slick production. It has its own charming, unique construction paper, high quality drawn art and feel to it. The narration is surprisingly good for such a budget title. Its the only time you’ll ever see a story. While its not necessary, since its so good, its enjoyable the first time you see it. There needs to be some sort of convenient way to skip it though. It seems like enough button mashing will do the job.
With everything said, there are a few problems here and there, such as not being able to exit the game. There’s no Escape sort of menu to exit, nor can I find a quit button. I’ve always had to F4 to close the game. Some of the weapons feel like a step backward from your overpowered laser that you start with. There are only three levels to play, two of which need to be unlocked. I’ve found an glitch that makes the gun spin, which doesn’t allow me to shoot, but I’ve only found it once in two hours of playing.
Not Without My Donuts definitely feels like a well made professional product that is fun, if not super difficult too quick. If you’re looking for a single screen platforming shooter that keeps you engaged like a cat chasing a laser pen, this is for you. I’d like to thank Different_Donut for giving me a copy of the game.