My father had a daily ritual — he would get up at the break of dawn, and get ready to go to work. The first thing he would do upon waking is sneeze without fail. A cousin of mine, when we had sleepovers, had a runny nose and I would go to bed hearing my tissue supply deplete. I consider myself blessed for not having allergy issues, but I do wish that if I did — I would have the powers of Thomas — a mailman with a heart of gold and vicious, supercharged allergies — from the game Hayfever.
I was introduced to Thomas by way of a cute 90s cartoon pixel animatic. The postman is making his rounds and while at a doorstep, sneezes — sending the whole game into motion. With the constant fear of Harvey, his boss, screaming at him Thomas and his trusty vehicle Carlie make their way to deliver the letters before trouble hits.
It is a “sneeze-powered” platformer in every sense of the word. Thomas uses Newton’s Third Law to leap over, barrel through, and avoid obstacles. Alas, there are many to pass, and in this precision platformer Thomas must power up his terrible allergies to dodge enemies and spikes. Later stages have him ballooning to new heights! Peanuts are involved — but not in the way you’d make your breakfast.
I booted up my copy of Hayfever for Switch, and promptly spent thirty minutes figuring out how to not blow myself into a pit of spikes. As Thomas went about his day, the summer pollen clouds aided me in uniting the townsfolk with their mail. In other cases, right into a precisely placed pit of spikes.
Despite starting off with just summer sneezes, Thomas soon works his way into the remaining seasons — and not without opposition. As his allergies adapt, he learns to use them in a beneficial way to avoid flying Jack O’ Lanterns and eagerly bouncing snowmen. In between them, he has to deal with bosses as well. Bosses who do everything they can in their attempts to strip him of his power.
I found myself enamoured with the mechanic of using allergies in place of powered jumps. It was easier to time when I needed to shoot myself skyward as Hayfever boasts an intensity meter. The one thing that I still needed to practise was the directional movement, as one false sneeze would land me in the morgue — or in this case, the mailbox checkpoints.
The art style really got to me too, as it reminded me of the pixel games that kid me played on my GameBoy Advance. I stepped on enemies, jumped on disappearing platforms, and played the ‘floor is lava’ too literally. Thomas reminded me of a childhood I loved and cherished. Personally, I play Switch games without my dock, and this one was no exception. A quick nip to the World Wide Web notes of a pro-controller / JoyCon issue — but the devs are already hard at work to patch this!
Pixadome, the development team behind Hayfever, is a two-man remote team. This is their first game, and it already has a very bright future, even with a few sniffles along the way!