The phrase “everything old is new again” holds a special place in gaming, as nostalgia-tinged remakes tend to earn beaucoup bucks. Some games, however, are not remakes at all, but rather are simply influenced by the style of yesteryear. Hold on to your commemorative Max Headroom posters, because here are two right now.
Yacht Club Games
Nostalgia is an easy thing to take advantage of. We all want to feel like we are kids again in some way or another. So when doing throwbacks to the 8 bit days of the NES, developers certainly can, and do, phone it in. Yacht Club Games did no such thing. “Shovel Knight” not only reminds one of “Mega Man,” “Castlevania” and even “Ducktales,” it can give them a serious run for their money.
So, as that holy trinity of NES classics may have informed you, “Shovel Knight” is a sidescrolling action game in which you gain power ups, fight bosses and do all of the other stuff you loved doing when you were young and carefree. The sprite art is fantastic, the music is suitably epic and the difficulty is, well, hard as nails (but never cheap). It’s classic game design through and through, whether its 1986 or even 2014.
There is a unique sub-section of these kinds of throwbacks that can only be referred to as, well, difficulty porn. They take the general conceit of an old school sidescroller and crank the difficulty up about 1001 notches. “Super Meat Boy,” “VVVVVV” and “Cloudberry Kingdom” are all great examples of this. Now you can add “1001 Spikes” to the list of games that could help you develop a serious Xanax addiction.
“1,001 Spikes” is a sidescrolling platformer that is to difficulty what the ghost pepper is to spice. Your 8-bit avatar has 1,001 lives to make it to the end. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? I assure you, it is not. You’ll burn through those lives in no time at all, at which point you must start over. The game is great fun, but its for serious players only.
Follow Lawrence Bonk on Twitter @sidescrollers