Hello my Time Wasters.
I’m sure by now you all know how much I love retro gaming, and this week I jumped into a game that has qualities that reminded me of those older times. In the game 8-bit Boy I was confronted with a few things that made the game a little bit more of a challenge than I expected. I might as well tell you that this upped difficulty is what gave me that slight blast from the past. But follow along as I explain a few of the games pros and cons.
The story behind 8-Bit Boy is mediocre at best and the same thing you’ve seen time and time again. You’re a 30-some year old guy who is unemployed, sitting at home and dissatisfied with his current place in life. He thinks back to a time when he wanted to design games, and remembers an old consol that he has in the basement. He goes down, locates it, and low and behold finds a blank game cartridge that winds up pulling him into a game world.
Oh, side note here, no offense to the writers, your stuff was well written and detailed, but to be so indulging over such a simplistic and boring thing was a bit ridiculous.
Moving on from the story aspect, I’ll get down to the aesthetics. Putting it simply, this game is an old-school Mario clone. I say old-school because of the precision and lack of leniency the game has for its players. It felt nice to have a challenge, but on the other side of the coin, there was a bit too much of a challenge when it came to saving my game.
According to 8-bit Boy’s site, there were secret coins in the levels that allowed you to save your game, and this is the only way to save (unless you tone down the game to kiddy level). Unfortunately, there’s a pretty big problem with the game in its whole exploration section. The levels are meant to be explored (obviously since there are secret save coins and, unlike Mario games, this one allows you to backtrack in the level), however there isn’t near enough time on the clock to let you do that. I found a secret pathway once and had to leave it for the straight forward path because I risked losing too much time exploring. And as you can guess, running out of time equals an insta-kill.
Speaking of insta-kills, water is one of them. It really annoyed me that water, which is friendly in Mario, murdered me as soon as I jumped in. Now I get it, water is a placeholder for pits, but don’t trick me into thinking that the knee-high water is okay when it’ll kill me as soon as I get my toes wet. Spikes are an all around evil, and I think those would have worked much better in the air than putting puddles on platforms.
Since I’m on the subject of level design, I’ll launch my complaint about that too. 8-bit Boy is a platformer, and as a platformer there is a lot of jumping involved. But all too often I found the levels squishing me into small corridors and then throwing multiple enemies at me with little room to maneuver. To put it bluntly, the levels don’t mirror or add to the gameplay, it just makes it frustrating.
Another thing that I found, not bad but a little lackluster, is the power ups. First one you get is always a shield which allows you to take an extra hit. Alright, it’s like the Mario mushroom, I completely understand. Next power up is the berry that allows you to shoot what is the equivalent of a Mario fireball. Again, I get it. But then after that the power up is another berry that allows you to shoot two balls at once and every power up after that is just 10 coins. I would have liked to have seen a little more diversity.
With everything said, I’m really glad that there was a game out there that wanted to challenge me, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t give me enough time to do what they wanted. I would have loved to explore the maps to find the secrets and save coins, especially the save coins. But when a game expects me to locate all secrets and complete the level in less than three minutes in order to even save my progress, then they shouldn’t be surprised if more often than not I shut the game off rather than accepting the challenge.
8-bit Boy gets 2 GiN Gems out of 5 for being a great challenge, but not being rewarding enough for my progress.