Red Death from Publisher Eastasiasoft and Developer Panda Indie Studio
Classic retro feeling shmup.
A Retro shoot’em up
You are the pilot of a small ship called Red 001 who is protecting the earth from invading aliens and an Egyptian god.
The game mostly follows the classic old school shoot ’em up formula. It has minimal story, getting hit once results in insta-death, and the game employs basic control mechanics for movement and action.
While playing you will be controlling your ship the whole time shooting enemies and flying through obstacles. Killing enemies will drop extra lives, weapons, and stars to power the overload meter. Once the overload meter is full you are able to use a special attack which does a massive amount of damage and will kill any of the bosses within seconds. It is a little OP but is needed to defeat the later bosses. Keep in mind if you get hit you lose everything. Not only do you lose a life, your weapon reverts to the starting weapons, and the overload meter starts over.
The game has an interesting choice for artstyle and display. It has a 4-tone color palette with pixel art graphics and splits the screen into 3 equal parts. On the left side you see your character and your score. The middle area displays the vertically-scrolling gameplay and the right side shows your remaining lives and the Overload meter. We feel that the choice for screen real estate would have been better if the gameplay area were larger and the other 2 sides were half their current size.
The gameplay can become challenging fast. The enemies will spawn in the same locations each time which helps you to learn the patterns and destroy the enemies shortly after they spawn on screen. The really challenging part comes from the sheer number of projectiles you have to avoid while trying to find a path that lets you actually hit the enemy. There is no “continue” option so once you run out of lives it’s game over and you have to start over. During the later levels you really get punished when you die as losing your weapons and overload meter might end your run. Without a full overload meter it’s near impossible to beat the bosses.
The game is pretty short with only 4 levels but will take a lot of patience, skill and luck to complete. Once you complete the game you are able to unlock the Arcade Mode which has randomized challenges.
Red Death is available on Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Petite Games
Repetitive but enjoyable retro FPS
A Neon First Person Shooter
The game is a First Person Shooter where you shoot enemies and pick up the coins they drop to buy upgrades for weapons and health. It has two game types: challenge, and arcade mode.
Challenge Mode has 30 stages to play and provides you with a specific challenge you need to complete before receiving your Gold, Silver, or Bronze rating. The ratings are based on how quickly you complete the challenge but there’s nothing to indicate what the requirements are for each rating until you complete the stage and see what your time was.
The first 15 levels or so, we didn’t find the challenges to be particularly challenging. Most of these stages were able to be completed in under 1-2 minutes. At times, the most challenging part is just finding the enemies.
Arcade Mode has 5 game types
Classic Mode – Normal Classic mode
Hardcore Mode – More Enemies with more HP
Combo Breaker – You need to keep a combo going if it runs out its game over.
Maximum Strength – You start out using a Rocket Launcher.
Snail Mode – You move slowly and can’t jump.
We enjoyed classic mode and maximum strength mode the most.
The artstyle is a neon voxel and has a retro mid 80’s feel. Enemies look like they could’ve been taken right out of arcade classics like Space Invaders or Centipede. The level design and sound effects fit the game’s aesthetic and are in keeping with that retro feel. They chose dubstep for the music. While this is not exactly in keeping with 80’s retro it still feels like a good fit for the gameplay. While the controls are very simple they work nicely and are pretty responsive.
Sadly, there is only one map that is used for every stage both in challenge mode and in arcade mode. After about 15 minutes you’ll figure out the fastest way to make it around the map and where to take cover during combat. While this does help make the challenges a little easier since you’re familiar with the terrain, it also makes it more boring.
There is no story or narrative and the challenge mode (30 Stages) can be completed in under 1 hour. With no online leaderboards, once you complete the challenges you are unlikely to replay them unless you want to try to get a higher rating for personal reasons. The arcade modes were more enjoyable as the stages last until you die (or lose your combo in Combo Breaker). That at least kept things going longer than a couple of minutes.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition From GrimTalin
A monochromatic 8-bit retro platformer.
In typical platformer fashion, your objective is to explore and move around the level by jumping from platform to platform, collecting coins, gems, and chests, placing crystals on pedestals, and shooting jars for a chance to find hidden coins. You will also need to evade the traps (spikes, saws, and arrows that come from everywhere) and of course there are enemies to evade or kill (scorpions, snakes, and bats). There are a couple of special enemy types that cannot be killed and must simply be avoided; spiders and ghosts. The spiders have an interesting mechanic associated with them that makes them more of an obstacle than an enemy.
You can jump, shoot, and move left and right. As you might have gathered, the controls are pretty simple and they work pretty well. Your character will generally turn and jump the way you would expect her to. Your gun can only hold two bullets at a time and shoots straight ahead in whichever direction you’re facing. You’ll want to bear this in mind when planning your ammo pickups. You’ll also need to be careful not to waste too many shots. If you find yourself out of ammo and out of pickups, fear not, you can leave the room and come back to respawn the ammo pickups. Besides enemies, you can also shoot the many vases scattered around the levels as well as a few destructible walls.
There are platforms that will move left to right or up and down once you are standing on them as well as ones that will dissolve after a second of standing on it. We ran into a few issues with the moving platforms getting in the way and stopping us from being able to access the area we wanted to access. Traveling to a different room and back again reset them and we were able to complete the objective by trying a different method or order of steps. You’ll find that you often have to travel between rooms to complete puzzles because you’ll need an object from one room to trigger something in the next. This is especially true for accessing blocked off areas found further in on each of the levels.
In the first 2 temples you have unlimited lives, which is a good thing because everything in the game will insta-kill you. Picking up an item and traveling to a new screen both function as a checkpoint so when you die you will respawn at the beginning of that screen or wherever the last item pickup was located. This allows for some strategy to come into play which becomes important and useful in some of the later rooms.
The 3rd temple is different. There are fire pits around the map that serve as checkpoints when you reach them. You also have semi-limited lives. When you die, initially you will respawn the same way you did in the earlier temples. But when you run out of hearts, you’ll be sent back to the last fire pit you reached. These fire pits that serve as checkpoints also fully refill your lives. There are also items you can pick up to increase your total number of lives. Some of these can refill your lives when picked up.
The map can be accessed by pressing the “+” on your Nintendo Switch. It is your friend and can be accessed at any time. You’ll find it very helpful for tracking where you are in relation to your objective. It is a very simplified map that really only shows the outlines of the rooms and where the doors are.
The chiptunes soundtrack and sound effects fit the retro feel perfectly and go nicely with the artstyle. They chose to do something interesting here with the visuals for the game as you’re playing the game on a system within your system. In game you can use the bumpers at any time to cycle through playing the game on a TV, a Computer Monitor, or an OG Gameboy among other options. Each game system has its own color scheme and backdrop of a different room. You can choose one based on which you prefer. You can use the triggers to zoom in or out depending on how much of the backdrop you want to see or how much of the in game screen you want filling your screen. So you’re playing on your real world gaming system and then on the virtual world gaming system inside it. It’s truly emulating the time period the retro graphics came from.
There are 3 different temples to play from and each one has its own gimmick. The first Temple “Chalice of the Gods” is relatively simple and a good beginners introduction to the game.
The second temple “The Golden Spider” builds on what you learned in the first temple. It is more challenging and becomes frustrating at times as you have to first locate orbs that need to be placed on a pedestal. If you die before placing the orb on the pedestal you’ll lose the orb and have to go back, sometimes several rooms away, to pick it up again. It also has platforms that move when you jump making you think before you jump to ensure you land on the platforms.
The third level “The Orb of Life” has an interesting twist with checkpoints discussed above and portals that allow you to teleport to other locations or rooms. We liked the additional puzzle elements introduced with the portals and checkpoints.
You are able to get different unlockables/modifiers like Double Jumps, Infinite Ammo, Rhino Armor, Campfires, and Limited Lives that can be toggled on or off at the beginning of the level and change the gameplay by making it easier or harder depending on which you have toggled on. Most of these will unlock by completing the temples. However, the Rhino Armor (which is SUPER handy and makes you unkillable) can only be obtained by taking a path that is outside the normal map.
A fun, classic platformer with a variety of obstacles and mechanics. A retro classic worth playing for a well done slice of nostalgia.
The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam and Itch.io. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
It has a retro 16 bit art style reminiscent of Super Nintendo and a simple soundtrack. Sadly the soundtrack is the same for all of the levels which starts to become repetitive.
The movement in the game is simple but effective. You move around the level jumping over enemies and obstacles, and scaling walls to get to higher areas. Water is also an obstacle since your character can’t swim and you will be insta-dead if you land in any.
The controls are very basic. One button for jumping and another one to use your super power. Combat is almost non-existent given that your only options are to jump over them and run away or use a super power to blow them up.
The super powers are pretty straight forward. The first one restores your health, the second one lets you destroy enemies and traps when you come into contact with them, and the third gives you a shield that lasts for a few seconds and lets you come into contact with the enemies without taking damage. This gives you three strategies for getting through the levels.
While moving around the levels you will find a variety of pickups to assist you. There are green potions which are the in-game currency, hearts to refill your health, lightning bolts to refill your super powers, and two chests per level that give you a gold bar when opened. The gold bars are almost equivalent to player levels. When making purchases there is a minimum gold bar requirement along with a price in potions but the gold bars are not spent; you retain them. They’re just there to make it harder to grind out a bunch of stuff early on since you have to play further and find more chests to collect more gold bars.
There is a shop located on most every level. They are where you can purchase items or change which super power you have equipped and make a one time purchase of an additional gold bar. Shops are the only way you can swap out your powers after your initial selection.
Every few levels you’ll meet up with a witch. She’ll ask you a question and you’ll have two options to choose from for response. The final choice is the only one that makes a difference in which ending you see.
The 22nd level (out of 30) was different as it was a kind of a race level. You are being chased by the smoke monster that you see on the title screen when loading the game. The smoke monster will one hit kill you and you are unable to kill it.
The later levels become harder by adding more enemy types as well as removing mid-level checkpoints. Choosing the correct super power becomes much more important at this point.
While playing on Xbox we noticed an interesting twist for the achievements. They do not auto pop like most other games. They need to be “claimed” from the main menu in the store before they will unlock.
The game is fun and enjoyable for a pick up and play game if you have 15-20 minutes here or there to play through a few levels. Completing a level and collecting both of the gold bars hidden on it will award you with a medal for the level. After earning medals for every level the game loses replayability. The only reason to keep playing it after that would be to collect more potions to spend in the shop and finish upgrading your super powers.
Fun retro platformer. Basic controls and repetitive soundtrack.
Restless Hero is available on Xbox Play Anywhere, IOS and Android. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.