Thursday, April 27

Tips and Tricks: Tumbleseed

While I would in no way imagine that Tumbleseed will require quite the level of effort and detail that was needed for my Has-Been Heroes Tips and Tricks the common rogue-like DNA in the game does create a situation where gamers less familiar with this type of game may have a need for tips and guidance. Generally, by their nature, rogue-likes tend to lay out some basic rules and then expect that through trial, error, and probably a lot of dying, you'll work out the rest. In the name of aiding people in their quest to better understand, appreciate, and enjoy Tumbleseed through the early portion of things I figured I'd put together this rough guide. Keep in mind, as with the Has-Been Heroes guide, this isn't being put together with authority or definitive precision. These are my observations and what I understand about the game from having played quite a bit of it. Still a WIP, will continue to add more as I get the opportunity/capture screens/etc.

Rules to Live (Though More Often Die) By

  • The walls are your friends. Use them, at least most of the time: Always be on the lookout for holes that may appear under a part of the wall and be mindful if their gap is big enough for you to fall into
  • While the game's appearance is pretty flat the objects in your environment very much aren't: There's a certain amount of perspective trickery that happens with objects in the game but, in particular, walls are again the place where things can get interesting. Sometimes you can benefit from the fact that near a turn in the walls there's extra space you can't visibly see to move into. However, by this same principle there can sometimes be nasty "surprises" in those spaces you cannot see, so use some caution
  • Never forget your Flagseeds! It should be really obvious but I'll underline it for you. If you fail to make yourself a checkpoint on a semi-periodic basis you'll very likely end up hating yourself. It isn't just that without them you'll need to cover area you've already been in, its that you'll need to do so without any real help since you'll have likely used all of the spots to plant in, often making things a bit more interesting to get through since you'll have also lost any of your thorns as well
  • Have a plan... : In general you should determine a style that suits you and work consistently in that direction. Are you a "best defense is a good offense" kind of person? Prefer to health up and use your dodging skills? Will you hoard crystals for purchases? Are you some combination of the above? In general you need to settle in to what will work for you as a base
  • ... but be ready to abandon it: Something here about the best laid plans and how, with any rogue-like, that all can to go hell in a hurry. There are going to be games where right out of the gate you're facing a nasty enemy who is hell-bent on killing you. It happens, you've offended the RNG gods and you're going to have to deal. Always be ready to move and adapt... or you'll just die and start over
  • The best defense is most certainly not always a good offense: While I started out getting thorns regularly I've come to almost never use them. The fact that they need to be targeted/directed is a pretty big downside a lot of times and, overall, there are better offensive options in the game for tougher foes. At the end of the day the main thing to know is that to progress you'll need to have your evasion skills at top form anyway, you may as well learn to use them sooner rather than later. Don't sweat the small fry enemies, avoid them, get your crystals and hearts up, and be sure you get something that takes your offensive abilities to the next level when the enemies you kill will be more profitable anyway
  • Remember, you can move down! In general the game is about progress and moving up the field but there are times when the way to get to a specific crystal or plot may be too dangerous because of holes or enemies. Always keep in mind that there are multiple ways to get at things and sometimes that may include going past the object you're looking for and then backtracking if that may be safer
  • Patience can be a virtue: While there will be many times where you'll have enemies or situations demanding that you move very quickly there are also times where you can save some thorns or risk by simply waiting for an enemy to work through its pattern and clear the way
  • Obstacles like stumps can be more than a nuisance: While they can sometimes be a hindrance to get by they can also be used to stop yourself (like a wall) and the same principle with them that slows you down can also work with your enemies like snakes and spiders
  • Remember, rogue-likes are built on risk versus reward: Not all power-ups, plants, auras, etc are created equally. While many can be lethal to your enemies you'll find they're often also a danger to you. I'd go as far as saying that some things you can get are probably net worse to have than to leave behind
  • Some plants (and your checkpoint flag posts) have a surprising rebound/recoil to them: Just a word of warning to be cautious bumping into them when anywhere near a hole, they have a tendency to spring you back a bit more than you may anticipate
  • Learn how much space you need on the edge of hole above you and how much space you can have in a hole below you: Due to the angle you're looking at the playfield from until you get a good gauge for what the lip on the edge of a hole can be without you falling in you'll likely be surprised and disappointed at first. Until you get a feel for this once you lose some health in a game don't ruin the potential opportunity, move along the edges of a hole to be sure you understand how much space you need above and/or below to keep from falling it, it will save your life many times over later as you play
  • Momentum is your friend... As you learn to control the rate of speed you're rolling at you'll find that to make some diagonal moves you'll need to get up to a certain speed and then allow yourself to "coast" upwards on your bar to get you through some sections. Without a little momentum this would be much harder in some cases
  • ... and your enemy: An out-of-control seed or one moving too quickly typically leads to issues. You have to learn how to keep from getting your seed moving too fast and also how to do some emergency moves to get over to a wall or object to stop yourself
  • Always listen: Aside from being in tune with what enemies may be coming for you it is also worth remembering what it sounds like when your enemies die so if it happens off-screen you can be sure to backtrack if you've left a trap behind that something has managed to get killed by

Seeds (not complete)

Possibly my favorite go-to seed. Relatively inexpensive, only lethal to you if you're foolish enough to roll over it yourself, and capable of killing even snakes on the first hit they work well. An issue you can hit is that the Pink Bastard Spiders, in particular, can be very wily in their avoidance of landing in the FlyTrap every once in a while. You can try to sit around the edge and lure them in but sometimes you just need to know when it isn't happening.

While it can be useful in a pinch and is generally inexpensive I also don't find myself using it very often. One issue with it is that it doesn't really propel you all that far up, so you have to get some great placement for it to get you over or past things. As a note, though I can't think of how this would be terribly useful, enemies can also trigger these, perhaps there's a strategy there. I suppose in the right circumstances it would work well enough, just don't get your hopes up of it giving you a scot-free getaway.

Star Seed
 Considering the trouble and cost of using this seed (it requires being planted 5 times at a cost of 2 crystals per plot) I've never actually activated it, but I'd like to assume it would be quite potent for the trouble. I usually avoid it so I can conserve my crystals for less costly options.

Spread Spore
 Not terribly costly but it can be tricky to use depending on the circumstances and its distance from things like holes. It will create a 2-shot weapon spot you can use to fire at your enemies (aiming from the side opposite where you want it to fire) and buy yourself some breathing room.

Ray Flower
While not the fanciest or most helpful option you have if you have enemies directly above or below you it can be pretty devastating. Always be sure to stay out of its way the few times it fires, if you're directly above or below if you'l have to exercise caution when activating it.

At the end of the day this one is really for pairing with the seed that creates a plant that poisons anything that touches it (including you). Since you'll die if anything hits you when you're poisoned the ability to get rid of that cloud around you will be crucial. Antidote is the key to saving you. Unfortunately its relatively high cost (5 crystals) means you'll have to be careful about your poison planning.

Very cheap to use (only 1 crystal) its results certainly feel very big but while you'll want to head for cover it has spotty results for reliably killing on-screen enemies. Whenever you want to use it be sure you're not stuck exposed in the middle of the screen. The sides underneath cover, or even just against the wall can be guarantees of safety. Powerful but not always very effective.

 As its name implies it has the power to temporarily make you invisible, though still very much prone to taking damage if you're hit by anything. Generally I'd consider the trouble you'll go to to get it and then make use of it well to be a deal breaker but some people may like to get stealthy with things.

Conceptually more valuable than it typically is in practice this has the potential to be very useful since it will fill in holes with water, allowing you to go over them without falling in. The issue it the limitation of its power to proximity to the holes you're looking to fill. Unless the holes are within a relatively small distance of the plot you plant in they won't get filled. Probably more helpful for creating an area you can kill enemies in without falling into holes than helping with traversal.

These can be pretty potent, dropping a mine every few seconds, ultimately dropping maybe 6 of them? One limitation they have is that you'll need enemies to go over them to take damage, which is sometimes challenging. They also aren't a guaranteed kill for more powerful enemies so that's worth keeping in mind. Perhaps their greatest downside is that they'll harm you if you go over them once they've been activated.

Probably one of my favorite and most consistent offensive seeds of choice. Proximity is a danger since the blast from a missile explosion will shoot out shrapnel, but in general it is effective because the missiles will home in on the closest enemy, they tend to be enough to kill most foes in one hit, and that same blast zone that can hurt you can sometimes nail more than one enemy at once. Add in a low crystal cost of just 2 per activation and it is quite reliable.

For a long time I avoided using it because of its unpredictable nature. Nothing will change the fact that you can't rely on it saving you, but it can sure be a lot of fun if you hit a productive streak with it. The main reason it is compelling to use, though, is that it costs you nothing to activate with it no matter what other seed's power gets used. On a crystal budget, if you can survive it activating bombs or other things randomly and can run away, it is a great way to make it rain crystals.

While not very useful initially, and carrying a relatively high cost of use, by Zone 3 this is a seed worth looking out for. It will only reflect one shot per use but when you're in spaces where multiple enemies are firing at you it can help you focus on getting through a tough area rather than trying to manage dodging projectiles as well as holes and enemies. The fact that it typically sends the shot right back to the attacker to kill them is just a nice bonus.

Another high cost protection option the shield is terrific as long as you're mindful of its limitations. It is great at protecting you from taking hits from enemy projectiles, however if a spider decides to pounce on you it isn't going to help you there. If you don't have the reflect as an option a straight-up shield isn't a bad second option. Again, some basic protection as you try to get through a nasty and complicated area can be a life-saver.

While it isn't a seed I typically make use of I could see where, especially earlier in your adventures, it could be useful. It will temporarily slow things down so you'll hopefully be able to get through a more challenging obstacle course of enemies, traps, and hazards. It is also relatively inexpensive, I believe at 3 crystals, so if you're a bit intimidated by what's immediately ahead of you it may not be a bad option.

Notable Enemies (not complete)

Pink Bastard
Oh, Pink Bastard Spiders, how I hate you so. You're capable of showing up right out of the gate on the first zone, your movement pattern seems almost psychic at times, your evasive tactics against my FlyTraps is practically legendary, and once you lock your sights on my seeds you're relentless, cold-hearted, pursuit machines who won't stop until one of us is dead. The RNG gods were right bastards when they conceived you, and I hear them giggling when they spawn more than one near each other.

While I consider them a little less of a nuisance and danger than the Pink Bastard Spider the Snake is absolutely something you need to take serious. They move at a pretty fair speed, will relentlessly track you down, and seem to be harder to just "shake" as well overall. Thankfully unlike the wiley PBS they'll follow you diligently to their death as long as you have a trap between you and them and they can get snarled up in obstacles if you plan well.

While not an enemy that pursues you whatever the hell these things are they can be very nasty to deal with if you don't keep your eyes on them and keep at a safe distance. Once they trigger based on proximity they pop up pretty quickly and will have an area damage effect that you won't want to get caught in. The best bet is to take them from above or below since it is easier to juke them and change course. Trying to shift momentum at the right spot and get away side to side isn't a simple thing to pull off.

Schnoz Shooter
There are absolutely worse things to need to deal with but these can be troublesome if you don't keep an eye out for them. They will shoot at you with fair accuracy once they get sight of you but if you're able to elude them for long enough they'll leave you alone once they pass by. Keep an eye out for the fact that at some point they will turn back around and again be a problem. Not the most lethal enemy in the game but you should be sure you don't lose track of them.

The Leech
These are probably the first "tougher" enemy you'll commonly see in the first zone. They're not terribly hard to deal with, you just need to keep an eye on where they're pivoting to before they strike next. They do take 2 hits to dispatch and with their quick rate of movement when they decide where to go getting in close to them can be risky. Probably easier to avoid most of the time.

Rotating Gate-r
Generally not a big deal to avoid since they spin at a relatively slow rate and stay in place they're also an obstacle you can tend to lose track of when you're trying to move quickly to avoid a nastier enemy. They only take a single hit so if they're being a nuisance you can remove them, but in general I find it is just better to avoid them whenever possible.

Crystal Fly
These little buggers are definitely in the game just to toy with you and to tempt you into trying to take their crystals without getting hit. They're not smart in any way, they generally have a pattern you'll be able to deal with, and any contact with them will kill them (though that doesn't mean they don't hurt you), but they're great at giving you pause or hitting you when you're not paying close enough attention.

Flying Chaser
 Another common early game enemy these creatures don't move very quickly but they are pretty tenacious and can be a challenge to kill if you're only armed with a single thorn. In general their low speed makes me simply decide to outrun them rather than try to kill them but your philosophy on them may differ.

Mini Spider
Not usually that hard to deal with, and they don't chase after you, but their tendency to show up in groups can make them a challenge to deal with at times. Whenever possible I generally just avoid them but as long as you move pretty quickly around them they aren't terribly lethal.

Pop Flyer
 While it is usually pretty easy to avoid them you will learn to respect them when they make their sound and appear, then quickly falling out of the screen. They're less often the direct cause of you dying than they are another distraction that opens the door to other things wearing you down.

Spike Trap
 While it doesn't move there's no doubt that it is one of the most lethal enemies you'll face in the game. Unlike many traps and enemies that just take one heart from you getting hit by the spikes means instant death for you and starting over again.

Auras (not complete)

You won't run into these until you get to the first town. They're free to grab, they have no ongoing cost, but you can only use one at a time, not all of them are necessarily helpful, and when you get hit you'll drop them, making you chase them down if you want to keep their benefits.

Ghost Friend
Will need to double-check the name on this aura but I put it in first as a warning to people... you probably would be better off not picking it up. While they can hurt any enemies they make contact with they will also harm you as well. Unlike the bouncy friend aura that simply ricochets off the walls the ghost will slowly and consistently track you down, which can really make for nasty surprises when you're trying to plot out your next move. Added bonus: They do this even in shops and in the challenges... how lovely!

 A great double-edges sword, it will make any projectiles you're able to fire with one of your seeds track down enemies a bit, hopefully giving you more kills. A major downside to using this, though, is that enemies that fire projectiles at you will also get this benefit, making areas like the third zone a bit more challenging to your dodging skills. Worthwhile but be aware of the effect and be sure you even have a seed that will let you use projectiles in the first place.

Freeloader Aura
This is one of those cases where it could be "too little, too late" but this aura will let you plant in any plot for free if you have only 1 heart. It is absolutely useful if you're that close to death, but obviously that's a very dangerous spot to use the benefit. How you use it could also be an interest risk/reward choice. If you have seeds like shields or bombs you could try using them without a cost to make full use of the lack of cost but that also means you're not using them for hearts. Decisions.

BigShot Aura
This is roughly paired with the Seeker Aura in terms of its risk and reward. It will make any projectiles you're causing to fire bigger but it will do the same with anything fired by your enemies as well. Usually this isn't too big a deal but if you get a space where you have 3 enemies or more all firing on you it can definitely add to your stress and challenge levels in a hurry. Always be sure you're at least going to see a benefit for yourself before equipping this!

This couldn't possibly have a downside, could it? Wouldn't you always want crystals to come to you and make it easier? Most of the time, absolutely yes. The one time this can be a less great thing is when there's one of those Crystal Fly enemies hovering around the crystal that's being pulled to you. Unfortunately those little buggers will continue to chase that crystal as it moves towards you and you'll have to be careful to dodge it. Once you get the crystal it tends to meander away but up until that point it can create a stressful situation.