Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure
|Sissy's Magical paladum adventure|
Title screen for Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure.
|Developer(s)||Untold Entertainment Inc.|
|Publisher(s)||Untold Entertainment Inc.|
|Designer(s)||Ryan Henson Creighton, Cassie Creighton|
|Release||May 24, 2011|
|Genre(s)||Graphic adventure game|
Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure is a 2011 indie video game developed by Untold Entertainment Inc. founder Ryan Creighton and illustrated and voiced by his five-year-old daughter Cassie Creighton. The game follows the titular character Sissy, voiced by Cassie, as she searches for fictional creatures called "ponycorns", a portmanteau of the words pony and unicorn. The game plays similarly to graphic adventure games by Sierra Entertainment and LucasArts, but is significantly less difficult. Cassie drew the artwork at the Toronto Game Jam, which her father brought her to in order to help her make her own game. Afterward, he integrated the art into the Untold Graphic Adventure Game System (UGAGS) that the game uses. The game received positive reception from websites such as Kotaku, The Escapist, and G4TV; the editors praised it for its cute appearance, the girl's ambition, and her voice acting. Since its release, the game has received international acclaim.
The adventure begins with Sissy stating her favorite things are half-pony half-unicorn hybrids called "Ponycorns". Afterwards she explains the use of magic rainbow portals that transport her to various places. Going through the first portal Sissy finds Orange Boy who talks in murmurs. After talking about Ponycorns with him, Orange Boy gives Sissy five jars to store Ponycorns in. Sissy goes through the portal she came through and finds herself in a mini- hubworld with five portals. In the first portal there is a turtle who is upside-down, in the second portal there is a dinosaur next to a cage with a Ponycorn in it, in the third portal there is a tiger getting ready to eat a Ponycorn, the fourth portal leads back to Orange Boy and the fifth has an evil lemon holding a Ponycorn captive. After all the challenges have been completed Sissy will hear something from Orange Boy,going back through the fourth portal leads us to see that Orange Boy is actually the last Ponycorn who turned into to Orange Boy to see if Sissy was kind to Ponycorns. The Ponycorn then asks Sissy to put it in a jar. After going through the portal again Sissy will shout "I got all five Ponycorns" and then the end credits will roll.
Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure is a graphic adventure game that puts players in control of a girl named Sissy. The gameplay is reminiscent of graphic adventure games developed by Sierra Entertainment and LucasArts, though it's significantly less difficult. The subtitles are color-coded to the character that is talking, while the bottom portion shows the items in Sissy's inventory and the "Quit" button. Players control Sissy by clicking on part of the setting to point to her where to move; if players click on certain objects or characters, she will examine or speak to them. The game tasks players to solve puzzles in order to progress, such as a puzzle that requires Sissy to examine a sign showing a little girl collecting a coconut, and throwing it at an evil lemon in order to rescue a ponycorn. Sissy is able to explore other areas by examining rainbows, which act as doorways. The game uses simple animation as well as characters and settings that are entirely drawn with crayon.
Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure was developed by Untold Entertainment Inc. developer Ryan Henson Creighton and his five-year-old daughter Cassie Creighton. Ryan was in charge of developing the game and voicing non-playable characters, while Cassie was in charge of voicing Sissy, drawing the art, creating the non-playable characters, and designing some of the puzzles. Ryan, a veteran designer of children's video games, brought Cassie with him to the Toronto Game Jam with the intent of allowing her to develop her first video game; because of her young age, Ryan had to make sure that she did not act disruptively there. On her first day at the Game Jam, she did "about six hours" worth of coloring, and an hour's worth of voice acting at home. Ryan took her drawings and integrated them into the Untold Graphic Adventure Game System. It took about two days to finish. The game's website has ads that play before the game loads, and a PayPal button that viewers may click on and donate money to Cassie's college fund. It was released on May 24, 2011. Ryan was not interested in making a game for kids who just like breasts and guns; instead, he wanted to make a game that could appeal to a broad range of people, including people who do not play games. Jaime Woo wrote that video game culture was often "critical, dismissive, and negative" and that the game was "easy fodder" due to its cute appearance. Ryan was unconcerned about potential negative response, and called it a "pure, non-cynical game".
Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure has received significant praise for its design and the daughter's ambition to make a video game. The game's website and the Toronto Game Jam's website received heavy traffic as a result of its release; the game's website went down for a period of time as a result. It became popular in part because of a number of Twitter messages from people in the industry about it, such as independent designers Anna Anthropy and Erin Robinson, journalist Mathew Kumar, legendary graphic adventure game developer Ron Gilbert, and International Games Festival chair Brandon Boyer. The donations received for Cassie's educational fund have exceeded $3000.
G4TV's Stephen Johnson wrote that it "won his heart", while Kotaku's Luke Plunkett wrote that he "hope[s] your teeth are ready for all this sweetness". Indie Games' Cassandra Khaw praised the puzzles, images, voice acting, and concept, and called them "far too adorable for words". She wrote that adults would not be able to make something as cute as this. Kotaku Australia's Mark Serrels wrote that the game "may be the most adorable video game ever created". He described it as a combination between the webcomic Axe Cop and the cartoon The Smurfs, and added that it was "a game where the random, unfettered imagination of a young girl, obsessed with ponies and/or unicorns is shoehorned into an absolutely charming point and click adventure that somehow works". He also praised its voice acting, art, and coloring, the latter two aspects which he felt "looks like nothing else you've ever played". Giant Bomb's Alex Navarro also compared it to Axe Cop, and wrote that it took inspiration from My Little Pony and Pokémon. He praised Cassie's energetic voice work, which he described as "intoxicating". He also praised the game for its strong sense of imagination.
The Escapist's Earnest Cavalli called it "100 percent of your daily recommended allotment of pure, military-grade cute", while GameSetWatch's Danny Cowan called it "every bit as cute as you'd expect, and then some". Play This Thing's Greg Costikyan wrote that while the game was short at about 10 minutes or less in length, the animation, story, and voice acting made for a "highly effective game". Rock Paper Shotgun's wrote that "the cute-o-meter has just started hissing heart-shaped clouds of steam and leaking glitter" with the release of the game. Denver Westword's Thorin Klosowski named it their "browser game of the week", and wrote that instead of providing people nostalgia, it provided the feeling of "being a kid and making up your own worlds, your own games and your own ridiculous logic". Time's Doug Aamoth was magical, fun, and "one of those things people are referring to when they talk about the good parts of the internet". An editor for Yahoo! Games called it cute, and the "sweetest, maddest game you’re going to play all year". PC Gamer's Lewis Denby felt that while it was cute and the history of its creation was "heart-warming", it was also a decent game in its own right. Despite its short length, Torontoist's Jaime Woo felt that the game derived its quality from Cassie's "childhood innocence" and creativity. He felt that another contributing factor to its quality was her gender, which he felt was underrepresented in video games. The game was honoured as a finalist at Indiecade 2011, where it was nominated for the "Community Impact Award". Cassie Creighton has been named by Backbone Magazine as one of the Top 15 Canadians in Digital Media, alongside the creators of Flickr, StumbleUpon, and the creator of the Civilization series of video games.
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