Following the explosive popularity of Wii Sports, every man and his particularly talented dog were making minigame collections. The WarioWare series had already been around for a while, but it really flourished with players’ newfound appetite for microgames. Other attempts were less successful, having the player waggle the Wii Remote in a variety of exotic locales rather than implementing interesting gameplay. After such a glut of similar games, the genre went into hibernation, with even WarioWare lacking a release since 2018. Fortunately, Pureya has emerged to fill that twitchy void, providing a (free while in beta) colorful collection of games in rapid succession.
Pureya begins with a young child in her room, stretching desperately for a bowl of marbles that are just out of reach. The whole container falls upon her head, scattering marbles across the floor. Crouching down to pick them up, she spots a toy spaceship and has a brilliant idea. Marbles by themselves are pretty fun, but using them together with her other toys makes for a whole new style of play. Marbles become asteroids to shoot with the toy ship, or bubbles for her seahorse to alight upon, or beacons for a bat flying through a spiky cave. Her ideas come thick and fast — a fun afternoon created from a happy accident.
The player takes control of the kid’s various toys, guiding a penguin through icy cliffs, swinging a monkey from vine to vine, or steering a pirate ship away from enemy fire. The scene shifts every 10 seconds, but the simple two-button controls ensure the player is never too thrown by the shifting movement scheme. Each screen gives the player two goals: stay alive and collect marbles. Difficulty shifts dynamically during play, with levels moving faster or creating more obstacles when the player is doing well, and slowing everything down after several deaths occur. This system works well, keeping pace with the player’s ability while always offering an extra challenge.
Every tenth level offers a moment of respite from the frantic gameplay with an untimed pachinko machine level where the player can spend their collected marbles. The machine has a tile to flip that will spin three numbers in the middle of the screen, with three of the same number resulting in a reward such as skins for the various characters or new levels. While I enjoyed the break from the speedy pace, I was not a fan of the faux-gambling mechanics. Every other part of the game requires skill, but whether or not the player receives a reward from these interstitial sections is completely random. I would get annoyed at the times when I did not get a reward, and it made me feel like my marbles were wasted, even though I enjoyed collecting them. A skill-based challenge using the marbles for unlocks would be much more satisfying.
Aside from the gambling-lite element, the gameplay of Pureya is fun and engaging. The levels are well-designed, and with 30 different scenarios to play through, the game does not get too repetitive. I definitely enjoyed some levels more than others — the jumpy penguin level was always fun, whereas the Flappy Bird-like bat level would often make my difficulty drop a few notches — but never knowing what will come next is part of the fun. Aside from the main shuffling mode, levels can be played individually too, perfect for those who want to nail the tricky turns of a speedboat or swinging a spider from a web.
Pureya uses simple sprite work, with most characters rendered in one or two colors and minimally detailed backgrounds. This style works well for the rapidfire nature of the game, each level instantly recognizable in the first second of play. High-energy music plays in the background, the instruments and timing shifting with each minigame. The composition is really impressive, depicting both that each game is its own world, but also part of a larger whole. Due to the multiplatform nature of the game, the menu interface feels a little odd on PC, large and wordless. While finding A and D or left and right arrows for the controls is an easy guess, this still should be mentioned somewhere, perhaps in the readme file or the store page.
Pureya is still in beta, but with how polished the experience feels, I imagine v1.0 is not too far off. The collection of minigames is both fun and highly entertaining, perfectly tempting players to have just one more go. For more from developer Majorariatto, the team has other games available on its itch.io page.
This week marks the end of Friday Freebies Club. Thank you for joining me in exploring the weird and wonderful world of free games, where developers are truly free to try whatever they like. I have loved every minute of it.
Next time, we will be looking at games in a new column dubbed Hidden Gems. Hidden Gems celebrates smaller indie games, both titles that are brand new or other games that did not get much attention on release. First up is Buddy Simulator 1984, a narrative adventure game where a clingy AI creates a terrifying world.