Nothing quite embodies the spirit of Halloween like an adorable vampire bat cleaning ghosts out of his newly inherited mansion. The Adventures of Shuggy consists of well over 100 short, often single-screen puzzle platforming challenges as Shuggy makes his way across his mansion room-by-room to fix one otherworldly conundrum after another. The goal of each stage is to collect every green gem and completing a stage will open the doors to one or more stages around it, but the real brilliance behind this game’s design is in its sheer sense of variety. Shuggy can’t do anything beyond jumping by default, but new mechanics and changes to the rules constantly appear. Sometimes the entire stage can be rotated at the push of a button, other times you have access to a portable teleporter, in yet other cases Shuggy may need to swing from a rope or use a rope to turn gears, and in other stages still you may need to switch between members of an entire Shuggy team. The list of ways in which this game plays with and adds to its own rules goes on and on and, while each region may have one or two particular gimmicks which it focuses on, The Adventures of Shuggy frequently finds new and surprising uses for old mechanics. All the right notes are hit in terms of progression as well; respawning is nearly instantaneous, a brief and sufficient bit of tutorial text is shown whenever a new mechanic is introduced, and stage progression allows for plenty of leeway if a level is too hard or if you just don’t care for a particular gimmick. There is only one significant issue with this game, but it’s a rather scary one – it sometimes doesn’t save your progress and there have even been reports of save files being outright deleted in some cases. If you don’t mind the risk of losing your progress (or if you think you can get through all the content in one session), then this game makes for a whimsically charming, clever, and all-around solid Halloween adventure.
What video game franchise could possibly embody the spirit of Halloween better than The Legend of Zelda? Well, probably Castlevania for one, so it’s a good thing someone decided to combine the two! Yes, it’s an indie fangame which combines elements of two of my favorite franchises and it’s even made in Zelda Classic, a rather impressive game engine which deserves an article of its own one day. Sticking a character from one game into stages and general locations from another is nothing new, but Link Stuck in Castlevania is impressive both for how far it pushes the Zelda Classic engine itself and for how far it takes the experience.
Things start out a bit slow with Link going through some fairly linear and simplistic zombie and bat-filled hallways resembling the start of the original NES version of Castlevania, but this mediocre pace doesn’t last for long. Link can break bricks and shatter candles to quickly gain access to all sorts of upgrades from both worlds, including hearts, maximum health increases, potions, maps, subweapons belonging to both him and the Belmonts, and even those blocks with Roman numerals which allow more subweapons to be on the screen simultaneously. The early stages mostly stick to layouts resembling those found in their equivalent stages in Castlevania, but later levels become increasingly creative with looping hallways, puzzles, hidden rooms, and less blatantly linear layouts. Once you get the warp whistle in Stage 2 you can also freely travel back to previously completed stages to hunt for any missed items or upgrades and the stages themselves even have one-way warps serving as a sort of fast travel service. Stairs can be troublesome as it can be difficult to tell when you’re officially ‘off’ of a staircase and far more than once I ended up walking back down some stairs while trying to move left or right and most bosses are on the underwhelming side of things (the first boss can even fly out of the room and force you to reset the fight), but the later stages, and especially the large final area, easily make up for any shortcomings. Link Stuck in Castlevania is a great crossover for fans of Belmonts and Hyrulian heroes alike which goes to great lengths to combine strengths from both series and to blend the nostalgic confines of the corridors of Dracula’s castle with new and unexpected twists and surprises.
Halloween is the best holiday of the year as far as I’m concerned, so let’s celebrate it in style with some seasonal indie games! I’ve already been celebrating the season by focusing on horror indie games all throughout October with MANOS, Infested, Halloween Wars, the Breeder series, and Eversion, but this final week of October is going to serve as a special event of sorts.
Every single day for this final week will feature a new game. On top of being appropriate for Halloween, each of these games will fit into the structural theme of primarily taking place in and around a specific spooky location. Whether it’s a giant castle, a creepy mansion, the house down the street, or something else entirely, these haunted structures will be as memorable as the games themselves. Since these will be coming out on a daily basis, they won’t be full-length articles (though those may very well get added later for at least some of these games), but you can still expect videos, useful links, and some handy information.
Welcome to Indie Overlook’s Haunted House Week and Happy Halloween!
My computer and most of my programs are now back to normal so you can expect to see some new content around here again starting later tonight! Things aren’t going to go quite back to normal just yet though because, as you’ll be able to tell from the announcement that’s going to be going up above this one a few minutes from the time I post this, my computer has revived just in time for some special Halloween articles!
Well, it seems like my current hard drive is almost certainly going to die rather soon. I would have posted this notice sooner, but the last several hours have been largely split between my computer spontaneously freezing and refusing to restart properly. I will try to have an article and/or a video up as soon as possible, but I’m not at all sure if I’ll be able to record videos with the computer in this state and even getting an article written may prove difficult if the situation worsens. I’m also going to be prioritizing backing up data over the next few days, so I can’t give a concrete date on when new content will be up since that in large part depends upon my computer at this point. On the plus side, I will definitely be getting a new hard drive at some point within the next few days, so everything should be back to normal by early next week at the latest.