REVIEW: The Last Fortune

Everyone loves a classic reproduction / impersonation of gaming’s early days, but when it comes to the retro-themed games being released today, it’s important not to be too influenced. For all the things that The Last Fortune (80 MSP) gets right, and there’s quite a few, the game repeatedly recalls those NES / Sega days when the difficulty was just a bit too irritating to stomach without an impressive impetus to do so. Unfortunately for The Last Fortune, it doesn’t quite have it.

It’s not a total bust, by any means. Like Vintage Hero, The Last Fortune mixes old school action / platforming and design with a contemporary RPG-lite progression system, giving you permanent buffs to your character and access to additional attacks / moves in exchange for hard-fought money. There are plenty of intriguing enemy types and bosses to contend with. Each level feels organic in the way it’s presented, and offers up new art and objectives, rather than simply launching into a re-skinned continuance of the last.

The story stringing them all together isn’t bad either. It starts out generically enough, with an invading force torching the hero’s / heroine’s (you can choose your protagonist, each with their own dialogue and movesets) hometown. What’s not exactly clear though, is why the bad guys did it. With talk of one final fortune to be found, one that will turn the tide of power in the region, there’s actually a lot of moral gray areas and ideas in play, which is surprising for an indie and helps keep you motivated (well, to an extent) when the difficulty gets the better of you.

On that note, there are some ill-advised platforming segments that the game is not suited for. Stages tend to go on longer than they should, too, with checkpoints far between. Dying right before a checkpoint flag can be a little aggravating. The obvious solution would be to shy away from combat, though in doing so, you limit your income and thus, your chances to level up. Combat is decent, if underwhelming, and depending on how you upgrade (invest first in health, extra lives, and the double jump), can be a meticulous chore.

The Last Fortune - Screen

Or your ultimate undoing. Fighting is the game’s focus, for better or (often) worse, and the occasionally stiff controls will lead to missed attacks and cheap hits. You do earn extra lives via scoring, though you’ll inevitably have to buy into more (as well as ‘continues’) along the way. By the fifth level, I had lost all interest in replaying the same stretch of stage over and over, only to see my bank account dwindle. Which is a real shame, as I was curious to see how the game finished up (with multiple endings possible).

It looks the part, and contains some modern conveniences, though The Last Fortune saves its riches for only the most determined of players. Assuming you cut your teeth on the action / platformers of the late eighties and early nineties, and enjoyed the challenge, you’ll do just fine. Though if the overly difficult games of yesteryear stir some nervous nostalgia within you, you may want to reconsider.

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EDIT 10/15: The Last Fortune has seen an update recently, proclaiming it to now be ‘40% Less Unfair’. I can’t say how that percentage was calculated, though I will say that the game does feel slightly easier in its difficulty. And I stress that ‘slightly’. It’s still a platformer that requires precision and patience in its later levels. In addition to the difficulty tweaks, a new ‘Arcade’ mode has been added, which does away with the storyline (because no one likes to read these days, sadly) if you wish, allowing you to focus purely on the platforming.

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Review on Indie Gamer Chick

Review on Fate of the Game

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13 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Last Fortune”

  1. I just recently found the indie gaming review community, and I’m very happy that I did. Being an indie game developer myself (though having never delved into XBLIG, I tend to buy anything that doesn’t look terrible just to support the community. You folks are making me consider starting up a reviewing site of mine own, or contributing reviews to an existing site.

    I purchased The Last Fortune at the same time that I purchased Magicians and Looters. The tighter controls of the later encouraged me to play through that game first, but I did just finish The Last Fortune, and there are a lot of great things hidden in this game. Like any indie title I play, I always hope for some truly challenging boss fights, and TLF does not disappoint here. I won’t go too indepth on the game here, but the challenge level did encourage me to play through the game, and the story was unique and interesting; the dialogue wasn’t an Emmy winner, but this game far out-did its ancient predecessors in terms of writing.

    Beyond that, and in short, there were only a few hinderances for me in this game. The controls were a little clunky at times (charged shot and double jump, primarily). I did suffer from a strange sound bug a few times that caused the audio for my entire XBOX to shut off until I restarted the machine. I found some of the shop power-ups (the tornado and the web) to be underwhelming. I actually found myself actively avoiding them when they dropped after I bought them, because I found the regular power ups far more useful against bosses and tougher enemies; I would have preferred more expensive, more powerful power-ups.

    But the story, the FANTASTIC and varied enemy AI (this, perhaps, above the others), the fun graphics and a few standout boss-fights (the transformed healer/nature monster was definitely my favorite) make this game an easy sell for me, someone who loves a challenge and oldschool games.

    1. Ah, so you’re a developer yourself? Then you know better than most what it takes to make a game, and how to judge it. Another voice in the review community is always welcome, as far as I’m concerned, and if it’s focused on indie games, then it’s even better. It’s surprisingly hard work, I’ve found, but it has some definite rewards that come with it.

      I am honestly surprised you could finish The Last Fortune. Not that I’m in any way expressing shock that you have skill, but because the game is SO FREAKING HARD. Last I had heard, the developer was looking to add some features and tone down the difficulty, although he did let me in on a little secret that allowed me to skip ahead and finish the game. After doing so, I was left with the impression that maybe .001% could finish it legitimately in the current form, so congrats to you in seeing to the end. I’m not cut out for the harder games anymore, it seems.

      That aside, I’m with you in liking the storyline and the enemy variety. Clearly, a lot of solid work was put in here, so I hope the next version of it allows other people to see what you’ve seen.

    2. Thanks Tim! It was a tough game in the early-midsection. Then, I sort of rolled until the final stage, which was brutal. I hit the peak of my skill level in video games when I was about 10; I handle games like this far better than I do Halo or any modern FPS.

      Agree with you that the item progression could have been handled better; in the last 1/4th of the game, I had nothing to spend money on but more golden/continue lives. Adding in some more potent, more expensive special item drops to the shop would likely help with that – and help folks struggling with the difficulty curve that ramps up towards the end of the game. I know that the large red swordsmen/knights were difficult enough to avoid (so many angles of attack!) that I began to just leap over/avoid them and any nearby minions by late game.

      Good AI, though. And good to hear that there might be an update coming. I would definitely play through this game again if it had some smoother controls and additional power-ups/manuevers.

    3. I know I’m pretty late to the reply party, but yes, update is coming! I’m only worried that I might not be able to improve the controls. I guess I played the game so often that they feel just right to me, and its hard for me to tell how a new person will take to them.

    4. I’ll be eager to try the update either way. I agree the controls are a tough thing to balance, especially when some find them well-suited already. I’m more concerned to see how the difficulty feels now, so the update will be good news.

  2. It is so SURREAL how closely knit the Indie community is. I swear, one of you guys could stab the other’s mother, and everything would still be all handshakes and friendly belly rubs.

    1. I like to invade personal space right away, so the belly rubs definitely come first. I always put a little ‘surprised kitty’ in my greetings.

      There’s been some developer run-ins (and not just because of my awkward introductions), but largely they’re receptive to feedback. They want to make the best possible version of their game, now and for in the future with other projects. That’s why I love the community; a lot of good people helping out other good people, discussing video games. We’re saving the world, man, or something like it.

  3. Hi Tim, I wanted you to like this game too! I wish I had heard these opinions while the game was in playtest, but I got nothing but glowing feedback both inside and out of the XBLIG community, so you’ll have to forgive me for thinking I was doing something right.

    This review, Jed’s, and IGC’s have been helpful in showing me how a different demographic views my game. Because of all of your suggestions, I’ve started work on an update that will add a new mode of play that I hope will be more palatable to you. I will also try to improve the controls and add a dash move for easier dodging. I hope to get it out very soon.

    Both you and Indie Game Chick seemed to think there was a good game SOMEWHERE in here, as if I had cooked you a delicious meal and then decided to smother it in absurdly spicy hot sauce because I myself like food that way. And while doing so, I thought that I should not go overboard with the spice, so I only poured ten bottles of hot sauce into the pot instead of thirty.

    1. Hey Mike, thanks for stopping by, and thank you for taking the criticism well. It can’t be easy hearing unfavorable things about something you’ve worked hard on, so I can appreciate where you’re coming from. I suppose it’s the old saying ‘You can’t please everyone’. 🙂

      Good to hear you’re working on an update already. Thankfully you went with the ten bottles of spice instead of thirty 🙂 I certainly think the game has more good parts than bad, so a few tweaks to the controls / difficulty, or extra moves / items that could make the whole process easier would be welcome.

    2. Mike, it shows a lot of character when you take negative reviews this well. Believe it or not, I’m also glad that not everyone feels the same way we do about The Last Fortune. In any case, I look forward to the update.

  4. Hey Tim. First, thanks for linking to my Fate of the Game review. I think you make a very good point with “the game repeatedly recalls those NES / Sega days when the difficulty was just a bit too irritating to stomach without an impressive impetus to do so.” As a fan of difficult retro games like the Ninja Gaiden trilogy and Super Star Soldier, I couldn’t find a reason to enjoy The Last Fortune. The retro games I mentioned are hard as hell, but they’re smooth, fast, and enlivening — the exact opposite of this plodding game. Anyway, thanks again for the plug and the good read.

    1. No problem. 🙂 You’ve been doing quite a few XBLIG reviews, so I’ll definitely link to yours in any future reviews. Gives readers another avenue and another take on the game they’re looking at.

      I liked the story (or at least where it was heading when I dropped out), but you’re right, those other games were able to pull off the serious difficulty by having tight controls and a smooth control scheme for doing so. TLF is a little too bare-bones in that regard, though the game does its best with the amount of enemies, mini-bosses, and bosses it has. I really wanted to like it.

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