UPDATE January 18th: Rayteoactive commented on this post but I wanted to make this as clear as possible: an update to the game is coming to add analog control! Read below to see why that’s a bigger deal than it might initially sound and check out their official post for more on.
Amidst the wash of poor first-person shooters, puzzle game knock-offs and endless multiplayer twin-stick shooters, there’s a growing selection of Xbox 360 Indie Games that pluck at my heartstrings. Arkedo‘s entire lineup, Pixel Man, Dark, several of DK Alpha‘s titles, and the classic Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp all lovingly call up the days of 2D from the 8 and 16-bit eras. Pixels, parallax, power-ups and a little bit of chiptune synth. It’s like coffee with an old friend, or at least that’s what old people say.
The latest — and most affective — example of this glorious style on the Indie Games Channel is Tobe’s Vertical Adventure. Half platforming, half puzzling, you play as Tobe who’s dragged away from his Xbox on a globe-trotting, treasure-seeking adventure full of gems, chickens and chests. You can run, wall jump, slide, climb and use items to explore these gorgeous 2D worlds but after a little “active reload” styled minigame to open each level’s treasure chest you’ll have only a few minutes to make it back out before impending doom catches up with you. I’m not sure if there’s a story element from the trial I played but each level rumbles to pieces and creates new paths to navigate as you ascend to safety, complete with Kid Icarus style run-off-the-left-reappear-on-the-right gameplay.
I have to admit, as much as I loved what I saw of the game from the demo (especially touches like the way waterfalls drop right off the level and little elements exist out of bounds) I won’t be buying Tobe’s Vertical Adventure right now. The timed escapes were already a bummer as I’d rather explore and hunt for high score but coupled with the D-pad-exclusive controls things just got too frustrating for me. As odd as analog control is for a retro-styled 2D game, the Xbox D-pad is atrocious to use for just about anything and especially for precision platforming. I love what Rayteoactive has done to create an entirely unique and beautiful 2D platform/puzzler, it’s just not quite to my personal liking. By all means, though, if you ever enjoyed a game that came on a cartridge, you too should at least check out the free demo.
Bonus free video from the official site of the game which you should also check out for the amazing faux-Genesis boxart!