Princess Pink isn’t a princess, nor is she a fan of the color pink. In defiance of her frothy moniker, Princess prefers “dirty sneakers, giant bugs, mud puddles, and cheesy pizza” over fairies, ballerinas, and the princess dresses her mother attempts to foist upon her. Unsurprisingly, the magical world Princess stumbles upon through her refrigerator door one night isn’t a Narnia, an Oz, or even a sideways Wonderland. Instead, the Land of Fake-Believe is a shared fairy-tale universe gone amok, with an oddball cast of subverted characters such as the green-haired Moldylocks (of Three Beards fame—”much scarier than bears”), The Three Pugs, a kleptomaniac fowl named Little Red Quacking Hood, and, perhaps oddest of all, the Tunacorn, a kind of unicorn with a tuna fish for a horn.
Zita is a pretty typical 10-year-old who spends her time doing average 10-year-old things. Unlike her more reticent best friend, Joseph, Zita revels in leaping before looking. So when the duo stumbles upon a smoking crater with a strange-looking device, Zita’s impulses get the better of her and she pushes the big, red button in the center. Before she can say “oops,” a portal materializes out of thin air, pulling Joseph into its embrace before winking out of existence once more.
Her immediate response is one even grownups are familiar with: to run, panicked, in the other direction. But then a different sort of emotion kicks in. Recovering the device, Zita reactivates the portal, plunging headfirst into the breach. When she finally comes to on the other side, it’s on a brave new planet, one that shares more in common with Tatooine than Oz or Narnia.
Double Fine’s Broken Age is only half the game it set out to be, but that’s OK. One of Kickstarter’s biggest crowdfunding triumphs, the point-and-click adventure surpassed its $400,000 goal less than 12 hours into its campaign in February 2012. It would go on to rake in $3.3 million, a sum so princely that the game could only grow in scope to match.
A victim of its own ambition—studio boss and LucasArts alum Tim Schafer blamed himself for designing “too much game”—Double Fine ran out of money mid-development. But instead of begging its backers for more, the company settled on an unorthodox solution: selling the first half of Broken Age to fund the second, to be delivered as a free update at a later time.
It’s apparent from the outset that Hilda isn’t your typical blue-haired little girl. For one thing, she lives with her mother in the mountains, on the edge of a forest populated by magical creatures. In Hilda’s world, boys are made out of wood, antlered foxes gambol alongside itinerant water spirits, and furry beasts flock across the skies.
Hildafolk is an amuse-bouche of a tale. One of London publisher Nobrow’s 17×23 series, a format for emerging artists to “tell their stories in a manageable and economic format,” the book offers a glimpse into a world that’s tantalizingly, almost vexingly, brief.