Tag Archives: 2D Platforming

Amazing Princess Sarah review

Amazing Princess Sarah

Amazing Princess Sarah is a call back to the games of my childhood, its 8 bit style and game design triggering memories of Castlevania, Megaman and Mario that have long remained dormant. Its simple story focuses on your father, the King, who while entertaining what appears to be the majority of enemy types you will face within the game in his throne room, is enthralled by a succubus called Lilith and you are whisked away by a demon to prevent you from interfering. As such, you must battle your way through a myriad of castles in order to rescue your father.

Combat and gameplay as a whole takes a lot of cues from these 8 bit classics; enemy attacks have a great deal of variety, environmental items contain health, and successful enemy hits cause a knockback effect, yet there are some innovations here worthy of note.

Aside from your standard sword attack, which can be used to dispose of the majority of enemies, you can also utilise items from the environment and even the enemies’ defeated corpses themselves in your battle against the minions of Lilith. Each of these corpses have differing properties; bats can be thrown long distances, ghosts travel across the screen in a straight line, elementals cast out a fire attack that sweeps across the platforms it hits, and archers disperse a volley of arrows over a short distance. When the screen becomes heavy with enemies, all of whom are attacking and moving in their own way, utilising these special attacks becomes all the more strategic.

Amazing Princess Sarah1

Additionally, APS has a light smattering of RPG elements, with each enemy defeated awarding experience and additional hit points being gained as you level up. This experience is carried even if you die, giving the levels a rogue-like quality with your ever-increasing health pool allowing you to traverse further between checkpoints purely through your ability to take more punishment following each death.

Each Castle is a series of checkpoints, with a lot of platforming tropes contained within; disappearing platforms, moving platforms, bottomless pits, and typically involves a bit of exploring, switch activation and backtracking in order to move on to the next checkpoint. That said, most of the maps are pretty linear and its difficult to actually get lost within the level and the checkpoints are numerous enough that frustration over repeated deaths never really has the chance to kick in.

At the end of each castle you must face a boss battle, and each of these bosses have their own unique attack patterns that you must learn in order to overcome them.  These bosses look somewhat out of place with the overall aesthetic as they appear drastically different from the 8 bit sprites you encounter throughout, but this does not affect the gameplay or hit detection on these enemies, and once you learn their pattern they can be easily overcome. Most can be done at your leisure, and only once did I encounter a boss where a particular attack could not be avoided, lending an air of urgency to that particular battle.

AmazingPrincessSarahBoss

Once completed, you effectively unlock a new game +, and with seven of these in order to “fully” defeat Lilith, there is plenty of content to get through to actually complete the game. These change the mechanics enough to prevent the game feeling like a retreading of the original levels. A ghost version of yourself chases you throughout the game, enemies resist certain attacks, or a constant bleed effect that forces you to speed run from checkpoint to checkpoint help to refresh the game enough to make it feel different.

The game though, is not perfect. Certain enemy attacks can reach you through solid walls, and combined with the knockback effect, (which also makes you drop any item you are carrying), can cause untold frustration when the screen becomes increasingly crowded. I was also able to trick the game’s physics as well, bouncing miles into the air when chaining enemy head bounces together in a specific way. That said, the phasing attacks and breakable physics are the only two gripes I can level at the game, (if I ignore the pixelated jiggle physics that seem to have been added for no particular reason other than to garner attention).

Amazing Princess Sarah almost lives up to its name with pitch perfect platforming and varied attack mechanics, although its reliance on certain old school mechanics and frustrating bugs hold it back. Those issues aside, this is certainly a game that should be on your radar if you are a fan of action platformers.

Thanks to Xbox and Haruneko for supporting TiX

[rprogress value=78 text=”TiX Score 78%”]
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SteamWorld Dig review

With its Western, 2D side-scrolling aesthetic and crisps visuals, this steam punk mining adventure shows no sign of its age as it debuts on the Xbox platform, and fortunately the tunnelling, treasure-seeking escapades of SteamWorld Dig’s robot protagonist, Rusty, is still as enjoyable and compelling as it was in 2013. However, it doesn’t last very long, and the procedurally generated structure only really provides replay for the most dedicated of excavators.

Mystery surrounds Rusty’s recently inherited mine, after his Uncle Joe disappears within its depths and is presumed deactivated. But you need to know for sure, so travel to this remote location below a tiny one mechanical horse town, to see for yourself what’s going on. With some encouragement from the town’s locals, you decide to prospect and mine for treasures, and as you delve deeper into the mine, discover unusual technology and underground structures that could reveal your uncle’s fate.

SteamWorld Dig 1

It’s all intriguing enough to keep you digging, but you can expect to solve all mysteries within three hours, with a fair chunk of that time committed to reacquiring treasures you’ve dropped from dying. Indeed, this mine is full of giant lice, crazed humans, mechanical turtles, and plenty of environmental hazards, all conspiring to dismantle your frail, metal body. You’ll die fairly often as you figure out the mechanics, delve deeper into the unknown, dangerous territories, and get impatient with reacquiring what you drop. It’s seldom unfair and largely the difficulty is well-balanced to offer a challenge without undue frustration, having your dropped loot stay behind despite multiple deaths is a forgiving feature for example, however, this balance is predicated on you steadily upgrading your tools.

As you stuff your pouch with treasures it soon fills up, forcing you to emerge from the mine and sell you gems, gold and precious stones in the town. With that money you can then purchase better equipment to improve the speed of mining or what materials you can mine through, to increase your health and pouch size, and to buy consumables like dynamite and ladders. Through keen equipment upgrading you can fight back against the increasing dangers of the mine, discover what lies at the very bottom and complete the short adventure.

SteamWorld Dig 2

The exploration and gathering of treasure is a compelling enough experience to make upgrading less a chore a more of a reward, and the procedurally generated mine means this experience is slightly different if you choose to replay it. However, once the story is concluded and you’ve seen all the mine and your upgrades have to offer, the urge to revisit is diminished considerable.

Certainly there are some standout moments that make the short tale of SteamWorld Dig interesting, with the ending proving especially well-balanced between challenging and rewarding, but the longevity this short experience needs isn’t really there. It’s initially fun and mostly avoids frustration, but ultimately shallow.

Thanks to Xbox for supporting TiX

[rprogress value=59 text=”TiX Score 59%”]
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