The key to its success, therefore, is its bold simplicity — after all, this is what Minis were made for, right?
We have the utmost respect for Coconut Dodge's developers, FuturLab. Their website notes a torrid tale in which the recognised Flash studio tried to break into game development. After years working for Sony building dynamic websites, the Brighton based studio successfully pitched a game to SCEE which, sadly, never saw release. Their tenacity has been fruitful though - Coconut Dodge is the company's first console release, and is based on one of their very first Flash concepts.
The studio are nothing but honest about their intentions for Coconut Dodge: "[We want to] sell enough copies of Coconut Dodge to fund the development of the game we really, really, really want to make next," their website notes. But to label Coconut Dodge as a stop-gap would be unfair.
After reading up on FuturLab's history - it's very apparent this is a company whose past is very much embedded in the ethos of Adobe Flash. And that shows in Coconut Dodge. It has a supremely clean aesthetic, with big bold colours opted over detailed sprites. The game wouldn't look out of place on a website like MiniClip or Newgrounds, and it looks refreshingly stark on the PSP's screen.
As a premise, Coconut Dodge is extremely simplistic. Controlling a crab at the foot of the screen, you must weave in and out of falling coconuts, collecting treasure and bouncing randomly appearing beach-balls. Naturally it's nonsensical, but it's cute in a twee way and thoroughly addictive. With a single life (though FuturLab tell us a three-hit system is planned in a future update) the entire concept revolves around the prospect of scoring points. More levels leads to more treasure, more treasure leads to more points. The standard dodge gameplay is punctuated by what FuturLab call "Mazes", these are stop-gaps between the levels where an "optimum route" can be taken to maximise points. These can be practiced in a separate mode which sets points targets for each maze, and rewards performance with a medal.
It's all blissfully simplistic, but the production values are high. Everything feels cohesive, with comprehensive scoreboards and plenty of levels.
Indeed, such is the quality of FuturLab's console debut we see no reason why the studio shouldn't achieve their lofty ambitions and more. Put as simplistically as the game itself: Coconut Dodge is brilliant.