Yes, I’m finally going to start this series up again. It’s been way too long! I probably should have a full update ready, but I don’t, so this will have to do. For this small update, first I’ll post the new list of 2d platformers I will be covering here. I’ve bought a bunch of them since I last posted a new article in this series back in April 2017, so before moving on to 2.5d games I need to cover these games first.
New 2d platformers I will be covering
Airscape – The Fall of Gravity
Castle in the Darkness
Jazz Jackrabbit 1 Collection
Mighty Switch Force! Academy!
Mighty Switch Force! Hose it Down!
Odallus The Dark Call
Reverse x Reverse
Secrets of Raetikon
Slain: Back from Hell
Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe
Tetrobot & Co.
The End is Nigh
I think that’s all of them for now. If anything is missing from this list, I will add it and note the change.
I should start from the top, but those summaries aren’t ready yet so I’m just going to post the two that are. Yes, it’s only two games, but both are long summaries with good detail about the games.
Summaries in this update
Miracle Fly (2015, WinXP+) – 1 player, saves, gamepad supposedly supported (xinput only). Miracle Fly is a clever Japanese indie release with a unique idea that it executes on fairly well. This entirely mouse-controlled game is a mobile port and it shows, but unlike most such games I have covered in this list, this one is actually kind of good. This side-scrolling game with simple 2d grpahics is a flight-based puzzle/action/platformer, and as the name suggests, you can fly, though your flight is limited. There are three playable characters, all witch girls, and you can choose a character before each stage. The three are a faster red one with a spread shot, slower purple one with a laser, and middle blue one with a gun-like shot. The differences between them do matter. How movement works in this game is that your character will move towards your mouse cursor’s location if you hold the right mouse button. You move by shooting backwards from the back of your witch’s broom, which happens automatically while you hold the right button. If you press the left button, however, you will fire forwards. This is your main attack, but you do need to watch it because the recoil of each shot pushes you backwards slightly. You can also play with a gamepad, but the mouse is recommended because it is much more accurate.
Being able to move towards the point you click on sounds easy, but this is actually a pretty tough game. First, flight is limited by a meter. You have health and magic meters, and when your magic meter runs out you will drop straight down. Once on the ground it will automatically refill. Additionally Miracle Fly has a momentum system, so you need to carefully manage your movement clicks to get where you want with just the right amount of speed, so that, say, you will be able to stop just in time to make it into a narrow opening at the bottom of a vertical shaft before you fall through the one-way door at the bottom due to your momentum, while also not running out of magic; and that’s one of the easier stages, it gets much harder once walls covered with spikes everywhere get involved! Again, this game may start out easy, but it gets hard as you progress, particularly if you want to get everything in each stage. Fitting its mobile roots, within each of the games’ many levels there are three red gems to find. These allow you to unlock more levels once found, and levels are gated, requiring certain numbers of gems to unlock. There are also coins to collect, stars that give you chances to continue within a level, and single-use powerups that refill your magic or health.
Levels in Miracle Fly are small to medium in size, but are fairly well designed. The sprites are small, but characters and enemies have detail. The walls and such are pretty plain looking, though, and this game has a simple, platformer-creation-tool-like look. It works fine for the game, but the visuals are average. This is a tile-based game. You have your basic walls, spikes, several kinds of enemies which are usually easy to deal with (until they aren’t), one-way walls, and, crucially, several different kinds of switches and the things that they affect. One type of switch then allows you to move around certain types of blocks while you are standing on it. This lets you solve puzzles by dragging blocks around until you get them in the right place. Others are simple switches, which open one of several different types of colored walls once stepped on. You will often need to hit these in the correct order to get all of the gems, as you may be blocked from going back after accidentally hitting the wrong one. Because of this getting all three gems in levels often requires replay, but thankfully you won’t need to get everything in one go; instead, gems you’ve gotten count as gotten, and when you replay the stage you will only need to get the ones you previously missed. That’s nice.
Now, for the most part there are no checkpoints within the levels. This works at first, but once you reach the longer, more difficult levels having to restart every time you die gets frustrating. Fortunately, there is a continue system that uses those stars you will get along the way. If you want to continue where you died you can use two stars. After that, each subsequent continue in the level doubles the number of stars required. If you give up and quit out of the stage, though, you do not lose those stars. It’s a good system that allows you to have a chance at the harder levels while also keeping things challenging. The game autosaves after each stage you complete. Overall, Miracle Fly is a good game. Getting used to the physics can be tricky and sometimes the game is frustrating, but with responsive controls, some unique design elements, lots of levels, and plenty of challenge this game is worth a look. Also available digitally on Mac. The mobile version of the game is available on iOS, Android, and Ouya, though this PC/Mac version released a year after the mobile versions and is improved over them.
Rosenkreuzstillette (2007 (original Japanese doujin release), Win2000+. The English-language Steam release is from 2017.) – 1 player, saves (settings and replays to system, progress to passwords only), gamepad supported (directinput strongly recommended). Rosenkreuzstillette is a pretty good Japanese indie Mega Man clone with an all-female anime-style cast. The game has a Gothic-anime-fantasy story and visual theme which fit well together. You are Tia, one of the few mages in a troubled Gothic-style city which persecutes magic users. While out of the city, the other mages all revolt against the city, and you decide to stop them, as they go too far. The game mixes some comedy elements into the conversations though, so it’s not all darkness. The setting is original, but the core story is very much Mega Man, or Mega Man X rather. The plot is clearly inspired by the standard Mega Man X series plot, where X is the one loyal robot fighting against robot uprisings that partially are the result of bad treatment of robots. It’s fine Mega Man-inspired plot, in a different kind of world setting. I like that the protagonist is female, too. If Capcom or Inafune aren’t going to make Mega Man-like games starring female characters, then it’s great that someone else has.
As far the modes and options go, you can play the main game from the beginning, play Arcade mode which is a more linear affair, enter a password to continue a game in the main game — and yes, you can only load via passwords, so write them down after beating a boss! — and change the options. The game will save your options-menu selections, so I wish that they had put in save files for progress as well but it’s not there in the name of being a bit too much like console Mega Man games. It’s a minor issue though, and some classic PC games did use passwords too. You can also save replays of your gameplay, which is nice.
The story may be Mega Man X-inspired, but the gameplay here is classic NES-style Mega Man all the way. Like Mega Mans 4-6, Tia can shoot, charge up for a more powerful shot, jump, and slide. Your shot, jump, and such all are just like Mega Man’s, of course, just with different visuals. The controls may not quite match Mega Man’s precision but it is very close, and they are responsive and feel great, just about like how a NES Mega Man game would. You can configure the buttons, but on an xinput controller you can only move with the analog stick, so a directinput pad that either only has a d-pad or allows you to select whether the pad or analog stick is the main X-Y axis is recommended since this game is a lot better with a d-pad than an analog stick or the keyboard. I’m using my classic USB Microsoft Sidewinder Gamepad, which is still great!
The game structure is again Mega Man-like, and there are the expected eight bosses to fight before you move on to the final set of levels. The game has one Mega Man X touch at the start, though, an intro stage before you reach the main level-select screen. The levels in this game have pretty good designs that vary between copying design ideas straight out of various Mega Man games some of the time, to coming up with new ideas other times. It’s a good mix, and all eight main levels are well-designed and fun to play… well, maybe apart from the requisite stage with the Flash Man-like instant-death laser beams, those are tricky. The difficulty here is balanced much like the NES Mega Man games, so it is a challenging game, but quite doable and not THAT hard once you learn the correct order to play the levels in. There are some excessively difficult Mega Man games, perhaps most notably Mega Man X6, Mega Man & Bass, and Mega Man Zero, but the six original NES games are not on that level and this game isn’t either; this game is probably not as hard as Mega Man 9, it’s closer to the originals in challenge. That’s great, as the NES Mega Man games have incredibly well-balanced difficulty levels that are tough while almost always staying fun and engaging. I prefer that to the crushing difficulty of the hardest games in the franchise, myself. These levels are pretty good and hold up well compared to Capcom.
The enemies in those stages are almost all analogs of Mega Man enemies. So, you have enemies just like Met Hats, Sniper Joes, those guys who blow air at you, the birds which drop eggs that split into several projectiles, and more. Some enemies appear in all of the levels while others are exclusive to only one, as appropriate for their design. Some levels have Mega Man 4-like minibosses as well, while others don’t; it’s a mixture, as appropriate for a game emulating a whole series and not a single game. Perhaps some more originality in the enemy selection might have been nice, but I love Mega Man and miss the series, so this homage is pretty good despite that.
Visually, Rosenkreuzstillette is a tile-based platformer with a somewhat simple look to it. This is an indie game from Japan and it shows, though all the art here looks original and is well drawn. Now, the backstory may be a bit dark, but this is not a full-on tragedy; the plot and visual design here are a mixture of comedy and drama. Mega Man is a cartoony series, and most enemies have a cartoony look to them a bit like that from the Mega Man games. Some enemies are grimmer, particularly in the Castlevania-inspired level, but most have a lighter tone. Environments, however, are mostly ornate Gothic structures, in different palettes and looks such for each of the eight levels of course. I do think that the mixture works in this case. and while obviously a limited-budget homebrew release, the game has solid visuals.
Overall, Rosenkreuzstillette is a very good, but just as unoriginal, game. The game looks nice, plays great, and will take at least a few hours to finish, though it is not an overly long game. The game is balanced well and is one of the best Mega Man-style games I have played that is not actually part of the series. If you love or even like Mega Man like I do, you almost certainly will like this game, so get it! The game also has a sequel, which released in Japan a few years after the original. The same developer who localized this one is also working on that, and hopefully it will also see a Steam release soon, I’d really like to play it.