Tag Archives: nervous nostalgia

REVIEW: Killer Crypt

Killer Crypt ($1.00) is an ‘old school platformer’. For the uninitiated, that basically means a few reusable mechanics (mostly jumping), a colorful palette of enemies and environments, and frequent, knuckle-gnawing moments of difficulty. To some, that synopsis evokes a warm, fuzzy childhood full of generic platformers. To the rest, it’s a sentiment from a bygone era that’s really better if left extinct.

Our hooded hero is off to slay a vampire, and that’s all the story you’re going to get. Tracing its lineage to classics like Mario and Castlevania, the game borrows some of the best bits from each. Most of the enemies can be head-stomped, and coin collection pays off two-fold here, both as a toll to unlock passageways and earn additional lives (every 100 coins, natch). Temporary items found within the levels, like an axe or daggers, gives you a ranged attack that’s invaluable in taking down the extremely resilient (read: pain in the ass) bosses.

‘Old school’ rears its head in the form of limited health (three hits and you’re done) and lives, with a host of navigational tricks up its sleeve to derail you. Disappearing, reappearing, and invisible platforms aplenty, to go along with an equal amount of timed switches and jumps. It’s a setup that feels familiar thanks to its admitted heritage, that wants to reward you for exploration (hidden relics are required to get the true ending) and skillful maneuvering.

Killer Crypt - Screen

Hey, buddy, what’s with givin’ me the bug eye?

The retro difficulty, on the other hand, is something you either learn to appreciate, or will end up slowly driving you mad. At first, the challenge is used to make you aware of varying enemy types and level design; what enemies can be ‘bopped’, say, or how to cross a pit of spikes without taking damage. It has the best intentions, namely to make you a better player while instilling a sense of accomplishment, at the cost of your stockpile of player lives and patience. Even with the decent level checkpoint system, a lot of people may find themselves replaying the same stretch of stage over and over. Particularly near the end of the game, it can become a perfect storm of frustration.

That focus on timing / placement, and the repeated deaths involved, will ultimately determine your take on Killer Crypt. It controls well enough, and follows the platformer recipe to the letter. Much like The Last Fortune before it, there’s no shortage of challenge. If you favor the road that’s safer traveled, though, it’s best not to disturb this crypt.

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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