8-Bit Adventures 2 is an upcoming RPG from the developer of Tales Across Time and the demo gives us a brief look into the adventures of Warrior, Thief, Robot, and, of course, Charlie. Players will be able to change these names in the full release, though I think the default ones fit rather well alongside locations like a city named Processor. Clocking in at about 45 minutes, give or take a few depending on how much you explore, this is on the slightly shorter side as far as RPG demos go and that’s perfectly fine because the goal here seems to be to give players a good sense of the combat system and exploration without revealing too much about the plot and the setting. The demo definitely succeeds at achieving its goals, but how does the gameplay itself stack up? (more…)
2017 was an incredible year for video games, indie and AAA alike. We were buried in an endless avalanche of sequels, fan games, and entirely new surprises. Whenever it seemed like things were starting to slow down, a shining new release would come out of nowhere to keep the excitement flowing. This was also a remarkably varied year where no one genre clearly dominated the scene; every genre had at least one stellar game to offer and we saw a healthy mix of refreshingly new ideas and highly polished old ones. This was a highly competitive year, it was very likely one of the best years in history for video games, yet only ten games can make this list, Indie Overlook’s Top 10 Indie Games of 2017! (more…)
Now this is what a thematically strong level looks like! Destroy That Stronghold is of about average length and doesn’t try anything overly fancy, but it uses its mechanics well. You’re introduced to orange rotating platforms, conveyor belts, and spines (the little invincible things that look like hockey pucks) early on and these are the three tools the level focuses on throughout.
Simplicity and efficiency are the keys here. The only weapon at your disposal this time around is the Mega Buster. Aside from the spines, the only enemies used are cannons, the big jumping enemies known as power musclers, and lyrics, flying robots which slowly home in on Mega Man. For the most part, enemies exist for the sake of knocking you into pits or spikes. Though you only have one weapon, the level is designed around it as the Mega Buster is effective both for stunning the spines and destroying the lyrics when they fly in at odd angles. Checkpoints are spread out far enough to make every stretch of the level feel challenging, though they’re still close enough together that death isn’t frustrating. The only point where this level feels like it could use more complexity is the boss fight with Stone Man; the ceiling is uneven, which can affect Stone Man’s high jump, though the fight is otherwise completely straightforward.
There are two common ways in which Destroy That Stronghold uses its primary mechanics. First, it likes to pair up spines with sets of conveyor belts. This creates a neat gimmick where you need to deliberately lure the spines towards you when they’re on conveyor belts facing the opposite way and then jump out of the way quickly when they dash at you after sliding off the conveyor belts, which turns the encounters into miniature timing puzzles. Another common danger is sets of rotating platforms paired up with spikes, pits, and possibly lyrics. As the platforms can fly in a straight line at any angle, you need to try to figure out which way each platform will move ahead of time and be ready to react quickly if they move in an unexpected direction. The level plays with these platforms quite a bit and each formation poses its own challenge. Overall, this level excels at using a small number of tools to create a nice variety of mechanically consistent challenges.
Nuclear Man is a level with a solid theme, but it also doesn’t play around with it enough. This fire-filled level combines multiple red tiles and backgrounds to create a suitable aesthetic which gets varied up as you progress. The beginning is also strong with Mets and Hotheads placed alongside pits and vertical fire pillars for a fun, reasonable challenge. Unfortunately, this level’s shortcomings start to appear once you reach the first checkpoint.
The second portion of this level consists of climbing up and down ladders while stopping between horizontal fire traps. You need to be pretty careful while ascending since getting hit will force you to fall down a bit, though letting go of the ladder and taking a hit saves time while descending. Climbing is a somewhat slow process since you need to stop so often to avoid the traps, but it’s a decent room all the same and you even have a choice at the end between taking a shorter ladder to the exit or a longer ladder to some E-Tanks and M-Tanks. The issue here is that this ladder gimmick doesn’t just end with a single room.
The third section is overly similar to the second one. Instead of climbing up and down long ladders, you are now hopping between short ladders to avoid a health draining laser on the ground while also dodging horizontal fire traps and a few vertical fire pillars. Sure, it’s a bit different, but at the end of the day you’re still spending most of your time waiting for the traps to finish shooting, climbing a bit, and then waiting some more. Hops you need to make near the ceiling also feel oddly overly precise and the only way I was able to consistently make them was to use the reduced gravity of Star Crash. The tedium is broken up by a fun and unexpected water segment involving big robot fish and ceiling spikes, but the final section of the level goes back to the almost the exact same thing with a few minor changes like some fire traps being replaced by electric traps.
Your weapon selection and ‘Nuclear Man’ himself are largely underwhelming. You have a massive selection of weapons, eight total plus the Mega Buster and Rush Coil. Of these, only three are ever all that useful. I already mentioned how the reduced gravity of Star Crash helps with some of the jumps, but Plant Barrier and Perfect Freeze are also handy for absorbing or freezing the fire pillars (though most of the fire is horizontal and immune to these weapons). As for the other weapons, there are so few enemies in this level that there’s not much point to having them and I have no clue as to where Rush Coil is meant to be used; Silver Tomahawk can make some of the Hot Dog minibosses a little easier, but that’s about it. As for Nuclear Man himself, it’s just Bomb Man in a completely empty square room and Perfect Freeze obliterates his health.
With all this, is Nuclear Man a bad level? Not really, it’s still decent enough and even with the repetitive mechanics it’s on the shorter side. But it is a disappointing level. With a more unique boss room, a more carefully curated weapon selection, and a bit more willingness to experiment with its core mechanics it could have been fantastic. As it stands, Nuclear Man is decent, nothing more, nothing less.