Monday 27 September 2021

Indie Heroes Collection 1 Review (Evercade)

While most of the Evercade carts have been collections of games from yester year the team has also dabbled with modern developers who make games for older consoles. The Mega Cats cartridge was pretty strong overall and the double cart of Xenocrisis and Tanglewood was also great. Now Blaze have gone one step further by collating a collection of games from indie and homebrew developers and it’s an interesting mixed bag.

The majority of the games on the collection are of the platform variety and range widely in quality. At the bottom end of the scale you have Ploid which is filled with reused assets, repeated rooms and slowdown. It actually plays ok but is basically an unfinished tech demo. Then we have the solid but flawed Doodle World and Foxy Land.

Doodle World has a great hand drawn visual style and gives off major Gameboy Mario land vibes. There’s a few bugs in it with some pickups not triggering and certain places can see you get stuck in a death loop until you all your lives diminish. Foxy Land starts off well but is let down by an inaccessible colour palette meaning objects like switches are difficult to see and whoever put that Monkey Boss in needs a serious word about level design.

Another in the ‘fun but flawed’ category is Debtor which is a sort of puzzle platformer. It’s great fun but there are serious issues with blind jumps that just show a lack of external testing. It’s still good but without those save states it would be a massively frustrating experience. There’s a couple of real winners on here as well though. Flea is basically the (even more), indie version of Super Meat Boy. Yet again it suffers from a strange colour palette at times but it’s consistently strong and fun throughout. Top of pile though and by far the most polished and well realised game here is Twin Dragons. This could have easily been a retail released NES game. It’s creative, fun and high quality in every aspect.

Away from the platformers there’s a host of other gems to discover. Kubo is incredibly short but it packs in a host of different game types and is a fun adventure game that you’ll likely return to from time to time. We just couldn’t help but like it. Angua, is a solid action RPG which basically involves you walking around dungeons hitting blobs and finding keys. We did get bored with it but it looks lovely and it’s a pretty accomplished experience. There’s also some filler here with Homebrew Wars a completely forgettable Smash Brothers alike and a special place in hell should be reserved for Uchusen which is the worst game we have ever played.

That’s right, Uchusen is the worst game ever. Worse than anything we played right from the Amstrad all the way up to present day. It’s a side scrolling shooter where you can’t move diagonally which has one repeated boss and about three enemies. You can complete it in under a minute. Which, to be honest, is still too long spent playing it.

Chain Break is an interesting Gameboy game where players have to run a side scrolling gauntlet avoiding obstacles and spikes. Aside from some strange scrolling it actually plays really well. It is great fun and a really inventive use of the Gameboy limitations. Deadeus, also does excellently with its Gameboy backbone producing a gripping adventure which you’ll want to continually return to as it has multiple endings. It’s dark and brooding and pretty horrific in subject matter in places but it tells an excellent story from start to finish.

The last two games are both cart highlights. Quest Arrest is a charming police based adventure running on what looks like the Pokemon engine. You get the colour version here exclusive to the cart which is nice and it sees you as a cop trying to clean up the mean streets of a town. The only down side is that combat is somewhat basic with no real change in tactics needed for the enemies. There’s a bug towards the end that resets your police points if you tackle a gang outside the bank as well but nothing that really derails the experience.

Alien Cat 2 is an awesome puzzle game where you have to make your way through a single screen maze picking up tokens before exiting through a door. It’s a well tried concept but it just works really here with a clever cloning gimmick. Again, there is a bug where one level has a missing bomb graphic but once you know where it is it’s easily avoided.

Overall, the first Indie Collection is a success. You can very much tell these are homebrew games as most of them needed better testing both in terms of how they play or in terms of bugs but that aside the majority of them are fun and creative ideas that are well realised. There’s also some real highlights here that show off serious talent. Twin Dragons and Alien Cat 2 especially are great and probably justify the purchase price alone and with a bit more refinement to combat system Quest Arrest could really be something special. There are a few duds but overall there’s a lot here to enjoy.


Overall -

Alien Cat 2                        4/5

Angua                                3/5

Chain Break                      4/5

Deadeus                           4/5

Debtor                              3/5

Doodle World                  3/5

Flea                                    4/5

Foxy Land                         3/5

Kubo                                  3/5

Ploid                                  2/5

Quest Arrest                    4/5

Homebrew war               2/5

Twin Dragons                  5/5

Uchusen                           1/5

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