Hello, everybody! And welcome to...
(For those curious, this is a modification of the OST album artwork.)
Release Date: 12/12/09
This is a text-commentated VLP.
Saira is a puzzle-platformer game made by indie developer Nifflas. Now, when I say "puzzle-platformer" it's really more like, "There's lots of platforming action, and then you also have to solve puzzles that are entirely separate from the platforming." With a few exceptions, that is. The variation of puzzles and the unique visual style, as well as the ambient music and tight platforming controls, make this one of the 2D platformers that I enjoy playing most.
In this game, you play as Saira, a professional photographer, who has come upon a very strange situation after an making an emergency teleportation to see her injured sister. When she arrives, she finds that everyone on her home planet has mysteriously disappeared....
When the game was released, Nifflas gave a developer's kit to a select group of people to create new "Episodes" for the game. As of yet, no episodes have been released. I'd love to see something happen with it, but it currently seems doubtful...
(I actually have the developer kit somewhere on my external hard drive, so I may end up showing that off if it's interesting enough. For any brave souls who would like to try their hand at the level editor, here's a link for ya'. You should be able to find a FAQ and some general information there as well if you're not complete garbage at navigating forums.)
I've chosen text commentary for this particular LP. Saira is an incredibly environmental game where it's very important to take in the various sounds to get the full effect. The graphical style also accommodates large bits of text all over the place very well, though I've set down a couple of specific rules, such as text never crossing screens, in an attempt to help immerse the viewer a little better. In addition, I'll be doing something that's usually only done in SSLPs - character narration. You'll see blue text popping up (sometimes often, sometimes not) that'll basically act as the voice of Saira. Now, to all watching this, I want to make it very clear that I am not writing fan fiction, here. I will occasionally extend in-game information slightly to add my own interpretation, but I can promise you that the only goofy fan-analysis stuff will be in the Star Systems Log, not in the videos themselves.
Welp! I think I've given you all an appropriate enough introduction to the game!
And without any further delay...
YouTube Playlist | Hosted Hub
(By the way, I would highly recommend picking the hosted site. Saira has an unusually wide resolution and the quality is very constricted by YouTube. In addition, all parts past the first run at 60 FPS. S'very nice.)
April Fool's Garbage Video
Original Test Video
Special thanks to forums poster Cyrekk for hosting all the main videos!
Star Systems Log:
A lush, green planet, extremely similar to Earth - in fact, it's said to be the most Earth-like planet found to date. It's characterized by its beautiful, rolling hills, unique, hard-edged rock formations, lovely blue skies, and an immense amount of foliage. Already, plans have been made to industrialize and bring civilians en masse to this quiet planet, but the extremely negative environmentalist response may stand a chance at preventing this planet from becoming another Earth, or worse yet - Nyquist-Meyer.
The tape and Homebrew Impulse Charge can be found here.
It is here that Saira began, and has nearly finished, construction of her teleporter.
A relatively cold, mountainous environment. Because of this, it's been the more ignored planet of the Austra system. While it's possible that there may be something of interest found deep within the mountains, at first glance, many researches seem to be claiming that they're just massive, pointy rocks. Sekkei's land formations appear to be a little less round than Lomond's, and there are many more caves to be found.
A Q-OS 1.0 (250) Battery Charger can be found here.
While it remains fairly overlooked for human development, it might be a pretty nice place to put a couple Google servers or something.
Bormine (possibly a play on the element name, Bromine) has an atmosphere that is highly toxic to human life. It is dotted with blue and red flowers--the blue release copious amounts of oxygen and can act as suitable "waypoints" to adventurers, while the red actually produce an abundance of gas that acts similarly to oxygen (except without the life-sustaining part) and will quickly drain the life from any unfortunate explorer who happens to wander too close. Still, some creatures call this poisonous planet home, such as a purple cephalapod and a small, brown gastropod.
A Q-OS 1.5 (500) Battery Charger can be found here.
Fun Fact: The larger purple guys take a strange interest in Saira and will follow her if she comes close.
As its name somewhat implies, Gass Lividus (a play on the word "Gas" alongside the Latin word for "bluish" or "blue-colored") is a dark-blue gas giant. As such, there's no real way to land on it, and, that said, there really isn't anything here that Saira can make use of. However, orbiting Gass Lividus...
...is Haakon. Haakon is not a planet, but is, in fact, a volcanic moon. The inner, cavernous areas of Haakon are expansive, filled with stalagmites that push up from the lava, serving as precarious platforms. They also serve as a host to a strange species of green slimes that move by bouncing. Off in the distance, one can see Gass Lividus and Polvere itself, giving an eerily beautiful backdrop to this otherwise dark and dangerous planet.
Interestingly enough, most of Haakon's landmasses are covered with a substance similar to the thick, brittle, black moss that stretches over Bormine. Scientists have examined this moss, finding that, while it breaks when contacted by little more than a slight amount of physical force, it is highly resistant to a large multitude of corrosive substances, and is capable of not only surviving high temperatures, but also absorbing large amounts of heat. Uses for this moss-like substance are currently being researched.
The Basic Targeting Unit can be found here.
This is the only planet that orbits Ninian. One would think that any planet orbiting a blue giant would be obscenely bright, but this doesn't seem to be the case for Ninian; in fact, nearly the entire planet is pitch black due to incredibly dense cloud cover. Despite this, the planet is actually quite inhabitable - filled with plant life and a decent variation of animal species which have adjusted to the planet's lack of sunlight. Observing this, a small, private group came together to build a colony on the planet, but it was able to do little more than lay down power lines, as financial constraints cut the project short. The groundwork for the electrical network is still in place, however, and it still remains functional.
A Q-OS 1.0 (250) Battery Charger and the High-Powered Impulse Charge can be found here.
The female statue that lies on the leftmost side of this area is actually the original version of Saira, created in Poser 5. To make a short story shorter, this was abandoned because Nifflas realized that he would have to create clothes in a modeling program in order to, well... not have a naked heroine.
Mihika is a particularly unique planet; not only is it almost exclusively made up of minor variations on the tropical rainforest biome, but a vast majority of the plant-life existent therein is a dark gray, and the entire planet is engulfed in a sheet of light-gray fog (though its commonly referred to as white, since many people believe that Mihika is a symbol of purity). Most of the green-colored flora is an unsaturated green, while most otherwise-colored flowers are quite vibrant. The animal life here is known mostly for being quite dangerous, however - the understory layer and forest floor are both dotted with large, spiny creatures. Some of them take the form of four-legged mammals, known for their almost-comical ability to jump towards flying prey, while others are more like bouncing blob... beings.
Nothing of value lies on this planet, except for various codes, combinations, and passwords that employees at Hulton have burned into the grass to prevent themselves from forgetting.
(According to Nifflas, Mihika is his favorite planet, aesthetically-speaking. It also has two of my favorite uses of the camera in the game.)
While it's true that many planets are named after people, and many companies are named after people, Hulton is the only planet named after a company. Indeed, Hulton is the only planet to be owned by a single business entity - Hulton Industries. The planet is enveloped by a coat of blue machinery and gadgetry with a hot, yellow acid-like substance coursing through its veins. This substance is, according to documentation by the company, a byproduct of the energy extracted from the core of the planet. Despite the fact that there are numerous repairbots constantly keeping the hull intact, there are various leakages of the substance from various pipelines throughout the planet's factories.
A Q-OS 1.5 (500) Battery Charger and the Extra-Precision Targeting Unit can be found here.
(While not overall the hardest planet in the game, it contains what I feel are the two hardest screens in the game (non-puzzle-wise) simply because there is so much going on in both of them.)
Claymore is known for one of the most populated planets that's classified as "inhospitable" for human life - as well as the immense amount resources that drives this statistic. Famous movie director Grifoli Egress also made his home here, having purchased an entire section of the planet to film his movies when he was forty years old.
A Q-OS 1.0 (250) Battery Charger can be found here.
(This is hands-down my favorite planet in the game. It's well-designed in every aspect and I just love it.)
Also, "Bird Game" was a working title for Saira, based on the game's flying mechanic.
Hoffmann is a mostly blue planet that tends to have a cloudy yet relatively dry environment. A lot of its geography is made up of round-topped spire-like hills, and the planet is home to a number of massive flowers and fungi. Occasionally, animal life will spike in Hoffmann - which usually means an increase of deadly jumping-spike-ball thingies, but other than that, it's a fairly safe planet. Hoffmann is most known for the special berries that grow and ripen on the planet's trees during the planetary eclipse caused by Claymore. This natural phenomenon occurs approximately every 80 years, and, as such, the desire to taste these berries places the event on a number of people's bucket lists.
The Standard Fuse can be found here.
(This is one of those planets that really makes me wonder about the human aspect of it, as it's the only one to mention any sort of "event" and how it influences people.)
Liuz is another star which only has one planet orbiting it - Ashoun. Ashoun hosts a warm, fairly livable environment, but didn't garner a particularly large amount of public interest until the crash-landing of the massive starship, the Ortofaktor. Since then, many explorers and even tourists have found a number of technological scraps from the Ortofaktor - some carrying information, some entirely useless, and some even dangerous. Despite most likely having a high cost of life, the crash-landing of the Ortofaktor has presented new, profitable business opportunities for those who spend a particularly large amount of time on Ashoun.
The unique Q-OS 1.2 Battery Charger (350) - another piece of the Ortofaktor - can be found here.
(Both of Liuz's planets feel rather "odd" compared to the others, but I feel that Ashoun really takes that feeling home.)
Explorer XLII is the satellite which orbits Ashoun. As it was launched by the Ortofaktor's crew only days before the crash, there's an immense amount of people opining that the events are undoubtedly linked. However, the heavily-armed defense system - as well as a mysterious, password-locked terminal - has warded off most curious souls and looters. It's rumored that the unreleased sequel to the hit arcade classic "DodgeSqaure" can be found somewhere on the satellite. A number of strange apparati and devices can be found on XLII. It's not confirmed whether or not the creator of these things even knows what they do.
The Regular Impulse Charge can be found here.
(Also worth noting is that this is the only level to feature a different gravity than normal!)
Gass Umbra is a gas giant with a huge military training facility built over it. It contains some of the known galaxy's most dangerous obstacle courses, and has been the source for some level of controversy in regards to drafting of human soldiers because of this. Many people have called into question the necessity of such dangerous courses with a supposed lack of warring going on. Despite this, it receives decent profits for its "guest course" from intrepid, rich adventurers.
The prize for completing the course,
(It's really nice that I was able to put Goldschmidt last and have it work out in the general arc of the LP. I feel that both Gass Umbra and Nyquist-Meyer collectively offer the best sense of a "final level" for Saira, even though you can complete the systems in any order.)
Discovered only recently by two explorers, Nyquist-Meyer is a rather desolate and horribly polluted planet. The lifeforms that can be found there are extremely hostile and will actively chase down and pounce at other living creatures. Most of the planet's surface is covered in mass piles of rubble and other debris, leaving the cause of the planet's destruction relatively unknown. Since it's discovery, Nyquist-Meyer has found its way into the arguments of numerous environmentalists as "yet more" proof that livable planets should be used for human conservation rather than big business.
A Q-OS 2.0 Battery Charger (700) can be found here.
(Hm. I wonder what this place would smell like?)
Log complete. Mission complete.
Here's quick video preview of each of the stations.
KSPK Radio: Synth Pop/Rock
Features music from the band HearSpeakHere. Male vocals, mostly synth/alternative techno-y stuff with rock undertones.
f0nk radio: Funk/Hip-Hop
Features music from the artist DFast. Contains some funk and a little trip-hop. (My personal favorite!) Side note: DFast has created a few tracks for Nifflas in the past.
Radio Kanar: Romantic/Impressionist
Features music from the band Kanar--Léo Mathieu and Yann van der Cruyssen (A.K.A. Nurykabe). Strings are extremely prominent in the tracks on this station. It's also worth noting that Nurykabe did a lot of work on Saira's OST, and has worked on many of Nifflas' other projects in the past--in fact, a few of the songs are references back to other works from said projects!
Experimental Amateur Radio: Experimental
I'll just grab a quote from here: http://nifflas.lpchip.nl/index.php?topic=2402.0
The "Experimental Amateur Radio" station is recorded at a church around 4-5 in the night. It's me on the piano and Simon Jonsson who plays the percussion. The water which you hear in the room is the baptismal font. Having been awake all night we were of course extremely tired and in a really weird mood, but at the same time we were really enjoying it. We put my Zoom H2 in the room, and decided that I should play relaxing stuff on the piano while he'd change rhythm all the time and stop randomly. At 4:45 Simon manages to produce an incredibly strange sound with his drum. At 5:33 you can hear Simon try to hold back his laugh when he realizes how inconsistent his rhythms have been.
Silent Sun - Yogan 495MHz: Gothic Rock/Post-Punk
It's odd. This station only plays this song. That aside, there really isn't much to say about it, except for the strange static and morse-code-sounding stuff that is heard after the song fades away....
Oh, and Space Noise, but whatever. That's... just Space Noise.