Witch Wanda: Protect the Island

Witch Wanda: Protect the Island

  • Kashmerlow
  • 2 months ago
  • 10th

You play as Wanda, a friendly witch flying through the sky amongst clouds and floating islands. She is currently cruising along with her own island, housing a magical relic with life-sustaining properties. In the centre of the island is a strange orb that keeps the island afloat.

Suddenly, a group of witches start to attack Wanda and her island. Because of this, the island begins to become unstable. As the attacks start to pile up, the orb that powers the island starts losing its grasp. Fortunately, defeating incomming enemies extends the islands flight.

However, Wanda is at a great disadvantage: she is an amateur witch, so her spells knock her back greatly. As her tutor once told her: the best way to win a battle is to control your fire in short bursts. At the cost of draining energy from the island, Wanda can stay in the fight after taking damage. That is, so long as the island is in flight.

To control Wanda around the screen, press either the Arrow Keys or W, A, S and D.

Press X or Enter to fire projectiles at the enemy and recover energy for the island.

Press F11 to enter fullscreen mode. Optionally, press F12 to remove pixel distortion (this might result in a smaller game window).

Known bugs:

  • Scores are not reset upon starting a new game. If you care about faithfully tracking your high score, you'll need to exit the game and re-open.
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  • goblin

    This was a lot of fun! I liked the extreme knockback since it really makes you balance between shooting and dodging. The art is beautiful, the best I've seen in this jam. I loved the music as well. Excellent entry!

  • Hessery

    Its a cool looking game, but the knockback an dlack of a gui for how much life you have was a damper on the end product. Looking forwards to what you make next jam.

  • dreamcastgh0st

    Super cool take on a shooter! I really like the mechanics-- the way the bullets push you back and the way that you bounce off the walls gives this a really unique feel, and that combined with the slight directionality of your bullets based on your movement means theres a lot of room to get good at this game and really master it. The way the island in the back is used to measure your health is also super neat, along with restoring it based on how many enemies you defeat. The art is also really neat.

    There are a few weaknesses, though. You restore so much health from the enemies that you can just tank a decent number of hits without punishment. It's really fun to try and dodge some of the more complex bullet patterns, but you don't even really need to dodge them thta well most of the time. I also think the bullet pushback is a really natural and unique way to try and encourage the player to not spam the fire button-- I see your goal there, but I'm not really sure you met it. All that holding fire does is push me up against the back edge-- which, honestly, is where I want to be anyways, considering its the furthest point from the bullets, and gives me the most time to react. This means I basically end up holding shoot the whole time, and only moving up and down, never forwards. It's not unfun, but I'm certain that wasn't your intent. Maybe there could be some reason you need to move forward-- whether that be spikes at the back, or collectables at the front.

    Overall, the game is pretty fun, and super well polished. It's not as stagnant as a lot of shmumps tend to be-- nice work!

  • Happysquared

    Really sweet eye catching game. I saw you posting your progress gifs on discord and really felt: wowww seems like there are going to be some awesome entries! The bullet designs are very clear which is so important in a bullet hell. They're also super cute and fit the game perfectly. I love how the wtiches look as well. The background parallax and teh colours you pick are all just so perfect for the game. Not only does it look beautiful, but everything is so pixel distinct that I never lost sight of what was going on in the screen. Love the design of the floating islands in the background too. Whole setting is just gorgeous. I love all the different witch designs too. I never saw the same witch show up on the same screen which really helped with the immersion.

    I enjoyed the story in the description. I would have liked to see more of that in the game!

    I don't think I hate the idea of knock back in the game. After reading your description, and seeing the "control your fire in short bursts", I feel I get it. I do think that there needs to be parts of the game that changes to take advantage of that philosophy though. Playing the game, I felt short burts was inefficient. With how the bullets are spread and how much health you get back, it was actually way easier for me to just hold the mouse down and let the knockback happen. In most bullet hell games I have played, the holding mouse down and spamming the attack is just how it goes. Most of the brain power goes towards dodging the bullets. I think having to control your fire in short bursts works less in a bullet hell but probably be a better design choice for a more tactical shmup style game as most shmup do tend to have you just spam the button anyway. Though I don't often see knockback used in those style game as a "trade-off" mechanic. More like a heat meter where the weapon overloads. They do have less dense enemies/bullets than a bullet hell so a knock back mechanic I think fits better in those style games. Another thing, I think in bullet hells, being precise with the movement is just so important that I think the knockback kinda pulls against it. I can see it as an interesting trade off I guess. Like making the player have to decide "ok, I want to be precise and dodge bullets" and a "I need to shoot but this will make me less precise". It's an interesting balance I think can be explored too. Furthermore, the player can be pulled between those two things and also: I can't not shoot for too long or my island is gonna die. I didn't feel the balance in this game because it was just wayyy more efficient to hold the mouse button down and gain health from the witches. I tried playing a more tactical way where I tried not to get hit but the island takes so much damage that I basically needed to be killing witches all the time to keep it afloat it felt like. Most bullet hells are such spammy affairs I think adding knock back can be interesting but I think the game would need to slow down to make it feel significant. Or have attack patterns that are very wave like. Really intense dodge portions and slower portions where knock back might even help with the dodging.

    Anyway, wall of text is just kinda me scribbling down an unedited train of thought lol.

    I really liked the visual indication of the island teetering when it was losing health. I also found it a cool unique way to visualise health. Effects were also awesome and made the whole game so juicy and punchy. I love how it feels so dynamic. Not like a papercut out but that things had real weight to them. Sound and music were also great and the loop was pleasant and exciting. I'm just so excited by the visuals and world of your game. Though I'm a little biased as I literally made a game about a witch on a flying island in the last gm48 I participated in, haha.

    I should have read the description more thoroughly too I think. This is on my end but I was dodging bullets for awhile and wondering why my island was slowly falling. I would suggest having damage indicator for the island as well but I think that might just be too distracting with how many bullets there are. And the real solution is that I should have read the description better....

    Anyway, really nice work. I was looking forward to playing this one and finally got around to it.

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Ah.. a fellow witch enjoyer. Thank you so much for the in-depth feedback!

      I'm really happy with the background. I struggled early on o get it right, but after a few hours it just all started coming together. I made sure not to break the immersion of the game by seeing the same witch twice, so I wrote a system that makes sure a new witch doesn't share a sprite with an existing witch. It works pretty well!

      A story mode is planned for a post-jam version! That description was the very last thing we wrote, so it was an afterthought.

      I added knockback to try and be a little experimental and interesting, but it just wasn't received very well. I appreciate the ideas!

      • Happysquared

        Haha yeah it was just a train of thought. Hope it didn't come across in a "you should do this" kind of way. 😅 love the game and excited to see whatever direction you take it in. Can't wait to see a story mode!

  • _J_BALLA

    This is adorable! I'm a big fan of witches so I had to play :D I love the pixel art, and all the variety of witches to fight. The music is nice! I love how the orb on island is an indicator of it's health. I found it pretty difficult to not get hit constantly, but at the same time it was pretty easy to keep the island alive as long as you defeat the witches fast. Great Jam!!

  • Seltzy

    Game looks really nice and I like the cute little witches. It has been mentioned before but I'm not a fan of the knockback while shooting. I recall you saying it was to prevent spamming but I was so tanky I kinda just ended up doing that anyway and I felt unkillable.

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Yeah, these changes have been addressed in a post-jam version I'm working on. I really thought the knockback wasn't that bad, but it seems to be getting mostly negative reception.

  • Luke No Further

    I enjoyed it! The teetering island was a smart and neat way of showing how screwed you were in-universe without resorting to a more obvious and game-y health bar. It also served as a good cue to switch up your strategy and get more aggressive in order to save your little island.

    Loved the touch with 'REVENGE!' >:) And all the little witchy character designs and their corresponding bullets / health - they all felt unique, which made them more fun to fight than a generic enemy. It's like in Bloodborne, the most exciting fights (for me at least), weren't necessarily the bosses or regular enemies, but the other hunters - feels like you're fighting another player or yourself from a different dimension.

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Thanks! You have my friend to thank for the variety of witches, he drew eight variants. I wrote a system that makes sure the same witch doesn't show up twice at the same time, just to create a sense that these witches are individuals, and not just clones.

  • Allison James

    This is a wonderful entry!

    I really loved the use of momentum and the weight behind everything, including the knockback from shooting - I could see it being a little strong for someone good at bullet hells and used to complete movement precision, but I am neither of those things, so it was just satisfying to me.

    As would be expected, it's graphically fantastic as well. Great spritework, great effects, great use of parallax and Hotline Miami inspiration, and against the odds, it all works together beautifully.

    SFX and music fit the style, and the game seemed stable throughout too. Really don't have any complaints, for a 48hr game this is lovely.

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      The title screen I felt was a little bit of a mess, taking inspiration from Hotline Miami and the work. But I'm glad it came together in a somewhat coherent way! (I've been playing a lotta Hotline Miami 2 recently, and wanted to try the effect for myself.) (ノ*ФωФ)ノ

      In a post-jam version, we've decided to go full-on bullet hell, so the knockback had to be removed. Still, it was a neat experiment (that a lot of people didn't enjoy).

      Thank you for the feedback!!

  • Chris

    This game doesn't play how it looks at all. I look at that gif and I think, 'oh that's a schmup' but this is not conventional schmup design. Not that it's wrong to be unconventional but for me it fell short of my gif-based expectations. I'm not a fan of the recoil or the bouncing but my biggest complaint is that the player does not take damage, you can sit right in the middle of a stream of bullets and be totally fine. It is an extraordinary gamejam game that does so many things right, looks and sounds amazing but as a schmup fan I had to nit pick it.

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Thanks for the feedback!

      These complaints have been addressed in a post-jam version that might release in the future! The knockback was removed, and the cost of getting hit was greatly increased (gone from reducing your health by 1, to reducing your health by 5). This means you can now only take one or two consecutive hits before being defeated. Also, enemies give less health overall, and there is difficulty scaling.

      I'll probably post a link somewhere when it's complete, but I can't say when exactly.

  • A-DSL
    • Level 2
    2mos ago

    This was really fun to play, I'm absolutely in awe of the fidelity with which you managed the UI and visuals of this game; the background sunset and the artwork for the sinking island is absolutely beautiful, and seeing custom-designed menu buttons float in and out so smoothly made this game feel like it was made in far more than 48 hours. That's almost as magical as the game's concept itself! Enjoyed flying around and having fun bullet wars with other magicians too, always a blast and it felt fittingly difficult like many bullet hell/schmup games do.

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Thank you!! The UI was my favourite part, to be honest. It looks fancy, but it's really a bunch of hard-coded values, spaghetti code, and animation curves. (For example, when witches spawn in, their position is set to be about 1000 pixels away from the edge of the view to avoid some weird graphical bug.)

      I appreciate the kind comments! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  • baku

    Well polished game! The background is pretty, comfy colours, and all the witches are very cute. Good music too. Playing this game was a little bit of a rollercoaster for me:

    At first I didn't understand how to play at all. Didn't get how the health worked like everyone else it seems. Even after I knew to not worry about dodging shots, but just shoot the enemy witches, I still had lots of problems. I'd try to fly up close to them to shoot them faster, but moving around too much caused me to bounce all over the place. I got a score of 666 which I thought was funny and I was prepared to quit at that point.

    Then I read Mimpy's thing about hanging back, and I went — o h

    So feeling like an idiot I tried again, quickly got past my highscore, and just kept going, slowly starting to wonder if I could then hit the 6666 for the lulz. Took a while, but yep! :D

    Somehow my old 666 highscore had turned into 684 after closing the game, and now I notice the 6666 has become 6675, so all in all, 0/10 >:(

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      ( ̄y▽, ̄)╭

      When you exit the game over screen, all the witches that are just sitting around are defeated and added to your final score, which is why it ended up being 6675 instead of 6666. I've fixed this in post-jam version, don't worry.

      Getting hit actually should have mattered, it's just that I wasn't punishing enough. That has also been fixed in the post-jam version, the glove has been taken off. On the final difficulty mode, the entire screen fills with bullets, and getting hit 2 or 3 times results in a defeat. So it's only a teeeny weeeny bit harder.

      Just try and get 6666 then...

      (¬︿̫̿¬☆)

  • Ethan Wake

    The pixel art graphics/animation are fantastic and give the game so much charm! At first I was unsure how to track my health, until I noticed the orb on the background island changing size. That was a very clever touch! I also like that the island collapses as you run low on health, but it's possible to bring it back from certain destruction by killing enemies quickly. The difficulty progression could use a bit of tweaking as it's a bit on the easy side, but other than that, you have something really great here!

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Thanks!

      I fear that the health wasn't too obvious, reading some of the other feedback posted here. So I've changed the island to include a very obvious flashing text "HEALTH" under it.

      Difficulty has also been updated! There are now eight-or-so diffculties, ranging from "Very Easy" to "Impossible." I would rank the jam version to rank around the "Easy" difficulty. "Very Hard" and onwards increases the fire-rate of enemies greatly, as well as the enemy spawn rate. This ends up with a real bullet hell environment that can sometimes be really tricky to survive in.

  • Junction Games

    This is really well done, so my feedback has to do with game design more than anything else. I just thought it was too easy. Once you get around 2000 points, the game never changes. You see the same patterns over and over and it never gets any harder. I honestly didn't care about getting hit either, since I could just kill all fo the enemies super fast to offset the health I was losing. Now, this is a great place to be in. Those are just tweaks that need to be made, but the base game is super solid. Music, shooting(though a little too uncontrollable for my taste), art, you name it. This was an impressive feat to be made in only 48 hours. You should be proud! Also, I got about 5200 points before I just let myself die. haha

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Yeah, I've been hearing this a lot. I really thought that I wouldn't need to implement difficulty-scaling, but it seems like that would have been a good feature to make the game feel more interesting. Thanks for the feedback!

      I think my high score is around 2000, so 5200 is quite a feat.

  • Mimpy
    • Level 20
    2mos ago

    I really like the unconventional approach to a bullet hell with regards to health in this. It leads to two different strategies with their own different benefits and drawbacks:

    You can hang back and dodge shots to minimize taking damage, at the cost of killing enemies more slowly and losing health over time. Or, and this was my preferred playstyle, you can tank shots by getting right up in the enemy's face, kill them super quickly, and heal up the damage you took.

    I think this is an interesting space to explore because bullet hells almost universally encourage only the first playstyle, but unfortunately the game's overall difficulty is pretty low, so I never felt like I was forced to swap between these styles at any time. Instead I could sorta pick and choose and do either one.

    The background art is super pretty and I like the really tiny "bop" sound when you bounce off the edges. What's really missing, I think, is some dark edgy backstory explaining why these other witches are attacking your island. Jealousy, maybe?

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Thanks! I really wanted to try something new instead of creating a generic bullet hell/shoot-em-up. I don't think it was executed perfectly, so in a future version I'd like to motivate people to not use one specific technique.

      I would love to add a story mode to a future version, I think that'd be really fun. Maybe reserve the arcade mode just for this jam version.

  • Tydecon Games

    I really like the bullet-hell take you've given to this theme, my only critisism though it was a little unclear to begin with how the health system worked and the knock-back is quite fierce when you fire - overall though, I enjoyed the game, it's a great entry :)

  • scottgoldsmith

    Loved the graphics. It wasn't apparent to me how the island's health was my health until the 2nd playthrough. Loved the Bullet Hell feel!

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Thank you!! I can see how the health of the island wasn't completely obvious. I tried having hearts come out of the orb and flow into the character you control after taking damage, but I think maybe these hearts were too small to see through the noise of the other projectiles.

  • OoTrillionoO

    (I'm gonna avoid writing what I saw other people write.)

    Dope stuff, super charming. Kinda easy to optimize the fun out of by ignoring horizontal movement and just making adjustments vertically. Maybe some notable slowing effect when colliding with the screen's edge would help? Besides that, early it was very engaging trying to feel out how shooting messed with movement.

    It seemed like the highscore board was bugged with scores of consecutive runs stacking on top of one another so long as the game stayed open. This made immediately comparing how I was doing from one run to the next feel kinda finnicky.

    The broom trail stood out to me as especially pretty paired with the scene, music and sound was nice, and I thought the menu transition into gameplay was really cool.

    Pretty dope, I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing your work~

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      I think the ability to cheese the combat has been a common theme throughout these reviews. It's definitely something I agree with, and I like the ideas you've suggested.

      I can't believe I missed that highscore bug... I spent the last few hours searching for bugs and I never could find anything. I'm glad you found it, though. It's something that will need to be fixed if I ever create a post-jam version.

      I am extremely proud of the menu system. Since I didn't create (most) of the art, I did mostly technical art; for example, the background, particles, UI, procedural animation of the witches, and sound design. It was just a lot of things I have never really attempted seriously before, so it taught me a lot.

  • Om Rane

    I love the charm of this game. The artstyle and the music really nail it for me.

    At first it seemed interesting how shooting thrusts you backwards however the limited space you have inside the game means you spend a lot of time bouncing. And while the game wasn't too difficult throughout I feel it still throws off the player movement enough to possibly be a bit bothersome.

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      This is a funny story, the push-back mechanic was actually removed at one point in development. This ended up making holding down the fire button a viable technique, which was something I wanted to avoid. To try and motivate people to be more careful with their shots, I added the push-back mechanic, but it actually ended up making people less careful with their shots.

      Something I would change in the future would be to have a much higher penalty for getting hit, and a penalty for crashing against the walls of the game. Hopefully with those changes, the knockback on the shots could be reduced.

  • Rovert
    • Level 4
    2mos ago

    Got a score of 1700. Is this touhou inspired? If so, that's epic. If not, still ultra cool. I feel like the only problem with the game was the difficulty didn't seem to get harder over time, and I eventually quit because everything felt samey. I didn't really pay attention to the projectiles coming at me though because they didn't affect me enough to worry too much about them. Visuals are top notch though, same with music.

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Thanks for the feedback! Yes the game was heavily inspired by Touhou, but we wanted to put a spin on it. Originally it was going to be a really difficult bullet-hell game, in fact. (Maybe this will change in a post-jam version.)

      Unfortunately there is no difficulty scaling. I was hoping that the onslaught of waves would slowly reduce the health of the player down, but balancing that ended up being a lot harder than it seemed. I think the game would definitely benefit difficulty scaling, with a much larger penalty for getting hit.

  • Kwis
    • Level 63
    2mos ago

    Alright! First I wanna say it's really a charming game! it's setting is cute, and most of it is pretty lovely!

    Then I kinda wanna address the gameplay itself: Kinda stopped at 2600 cause I realized the difficulty wasn't ramping up (or too slowly); thing is, because I am not punished by getting hits, I ended up only holding the fire key and all the feedback really did was making me bounce on the left of the screen (which is kinda fun though), where i'd want to be anyway. There's not really a reason to be careful with your movements, as it's way easier to just hold and sway up and down until it kills stuff. Could have gone like this forever I assume?

    What i'd suggest for that is simple to make hits on you matter; not necessarily hurt you, but perhaps preventing you to fire for a short second. That way we'd feel encouraged to avoid the shots (even if they're very hard to avoid on their own)

    I also kinda wished the island itself was a bit more relevant in the gameplay, as it's basically just a bar of depleting life you refuel with enemies lives, it didn't need to be an island (though that's a cool gimmick!). I think it would have been pretty cool if the island itself was part of the gameplay, like, it'd be on the field and serve as obstacle, forcing you to move around and stuff

    But that's sort of a nitpick! It's finished and polished, which is pretty good for a jam game! (cant say the same for my own game) The game is pretty cool and it's really nice to see the island slowly falling as it's losing its energy, which is a rather neat concept. :D

    • Katsaii
      • Level 4
      • Artist
      2mos ago

      Getting the difficulty right was the main issue I struggled with. I thought about making it so that when you bounce against a wall you took extra damage, but it didn't seem worth it. I felt that not being able to control your character was enough to put people off of holding down the fire button.

      Getting hit does actually have an impact: the health of the island maxes out at 15, every hit you take reduces the health of the island by 1. So if left unchecked, constantly being hit will result in a game over.

      The main reason why what you did was a viable technique is probably because the invulnerability of the player character after being hit is too high (currently it is around half a second, this could be reduced).

      I think that your comment about the island not serving the theme is very much a nitpick, since I imagine most games in this jam could be migrated to a different setting and still feel the same.

      Still, all around good advice. Thanks.

  • AlexInCube

    good shot em up, good graphic.