Monday 5 April 2021

Mega Cat Studios Collection 1 (Evercade Review)

So far, the majority of the releases for the Evercade have been retro games for consoles such as the NES, SNES and Mega Drive. The Megs Cat Studios cartridge takes a different approach as while the games have still been developed for those systems they are new releases trying to encapsulate the feeling that the older classics have.

There are ten games in total and they vary in terms of genre and quality. Almost Hero is a forgettable and basic side scrolling fighting that we just couldn’t get on with, Justice Duel is an attempt to update the classic Joust which falls flat and Coffee Crisis is either not running very well on the Evercade or simply not very responsive. But these three are the only games that really miss the mark.

Creepy Brawlers is a solid if unspectacular take on Punch-Out! But with monsters and Log Jammers tries to imitate Windjammers and does so to a fairly decent degree. However, while the games are solid in themselves all they really did was send us back to the superior titles that have influenced them.

Multidude is a great little game where you have to use a selection of little bots to solve puzzles in a single screened room. The only real issue with it is that it’s very short (especially for those using the save states). Super Painter also suffers from its brevity but aside from this is an enjoyable single screen platformer (with a slightly dodgy jumping mechanic), based on the numerous ‘paint all the blocks’ games of years gone by.

Things really pick up with Little Medusa. Here you have to turn enemies to stone and then kick them to make platforms in order to pick up stars. Once all the stars are collected you move onto the next single screened level. It’s a top down puzzle/adventure game in the style of something like Kickle Cubicle, only this time set in ancient Greece. It works really well and has a ton of stages to get through.

Deadly Towers is another excellent game and takes the form of an insane puzzle platformer. Here you have to zoom your character around a tower picking up all the objects before making it to the exit door. Your character will shoot quickly in a straight line in whichever direction you choose until they hit the next surface. It’s great and some of the levels are very tricky to work out. The only issue here is that it’s a little short (if using save states), but what’s here is great.

The absolute highlight of this pack though is the incredible Tanzer. Mixing elements from Strider, Altered Beast and a host of 16-bit platformers this really is something special. It runs at a break neck speed and the action is unrelenting and frantic. Enemies are varied and locations are distinguished with big and colourful graphics and perfectly capture the feel of the best 16-bit platformers of the age. It’s also a solid length and offers multiple routes through the games for those returning to it. In all honesty it’s worth getting the cartridge just for Tanzer. In fact, it may well be worth getting an Evercade just for Tanzer – it’s that good.

Overall, It was always going to be a harder sell to get gamers to invest in new IP’s that weren’t going to trigger nostalgic memories. However, Mega Cat Studios have included some real gems here that shouldn’t be overlooked. Little Medusa and Old Towers are really good games that players will spend a fair amount of time with and they are backed up by a couple of fun but brief experiences in Super Painter and Multidude. Then there’s Tanzer. Glorious, magnificent and wonderful Tanzer. It’s not just the best game on the cart, it might be the best game on the Evercade and an absolutely essential purchase.

Game Ratings

 Almost Hero                      2/5

Creepy Brawlers               3/5

Coffee Crisis                       2/5

Justice Duel                        2/5

Log Jammers                      3/5

Little Medusa                    4/5

Multidude                           3/5

Old Towers                         4/5

Super Painter                     3/5

Tanzer                                  5/5

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