November 26, 2012 11:00 PM | Staff
[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each of the games in the latest bundle from IndieGames' co-created site, Indie Royale.]
ScaryPotato began what eventually became Adventure Apes and the Mayan Mystery four years ago with a very specific goal in mind. They wanted to make a simple, retro inspired game that was equally accessible for kids as well as adults. Considering how very few indie games actually target kids, it was a noble goal. It was also intended to show that sometimes a simple game can be just as much fun as those Skylands or whatever the kids are into these days when they're not standing on my lawn. With a bright, colourful premise and some simple and effective art, Adventure Apes definitely does a great job of kicking off a series eager to address those goals.
Mitch and Otis are the aforementioned Adventure Apes, tasked with chasing down their nemesis Horatio Hawk and keeping him from stealing great treasures of the ancient world. While Otis is forced to sit out this first installment thanks to unfortunate banana peel related events in the rhyming introduction, the premise remains the same. Mitch needs to hop his way through a series of ancient, dangerous Mayan temples in order to track down treasure, score upgrades and fight some tricky bosses in a gameplay structure that takes some heavy, open world inspiration from Metroid.
Indeed, retro inspiration is a huge part of the nostalgic appeal for Adventure Apes, which shows so much love for the olden days that it was likely just as nostalgic for ScaryPotato to develop as it is for us to play. The game comes loaded with lots of lovely pixel artwork in the character designs and the backdrops, evoking a look that seems to be straight out of the golden age of Amiga platformers. Ditto for the soundscape, which is MIDI based for authenticity but still sounds unique and new. Every part of the game definitely has the feel of a project developed out of love, the net result of those NES games we used to dream about making in our heads. Particularly excellent is the included manual, which has a ton of artistic effort put into it in a way that you just don't see any more.
There are a few hiccups I noticed, such as a control scheme hampered by a lack of game pad support and a few questionable design decisions like limited ammo. Like any platformer, Adventure Apes feels a bit awkward on a keyboard. The limited ammo led to a part where I was trapped between two rooms without bombs, so I was forced to grind enemies until they were replenished. I don't mention these quibbles to dissuade anyone from looking at Adventure Apes for their next nostalgia fueled platform adventure, but rather I mention these as things that could be improved for Mitch and Otis' next adventure.
Because yes, I enjoyed the Adventure Apes debut enough that I definitely look forward to more platformers starring the pair. I may not necessarily be the primary target audience, but anyone who grew up with fond memories of a NES or Amiga will definitely appreciate it. It's challenging enough without becoming outright frustrating, and it represents the rare case of an indie game marketed to more than the core adult audience.
[Anomaly: Warzone Earth, Puzzle Agent 2, The Dream Machine: Chapters 1-3, Children of the Nile: Enhanced Edition, and Adventure Apes and the Mayan Mystery are available in the Stuffing Bundle on Indie Royale.]