Monday 10 April 2023

Micro Mages Review (NES)

The indie revival has moved forward somewhat in recent years. For a long time, we have been reviewing games made to look like titles on classic systems. In the last few years though more and more indie titles are making the full jump and simply being developed and released on the original hardware. Micro Mages for the NES is one of the most high profile of these.

Micro Mages is a platformer where up to four players can help each other ascend a tower before existing the door at the top. Don’t worry though because it is perfectly playable on your own. Your little dude can jump and shoot and they also stick to walls. Some of the later levels require a few more advanced techniques such as a power jump (caused by fire a charged shot down while jumping), but it’s basically your starting skill set all the way through.

It can be tough as well as one hit kills and you aren’t exactly brimming with lives. More can be picked up along the way of course and you can also pick up a few items which protect against instant death. There are four worlds in total with a stand off against a large boss creature at the end of each. Once completed you unlock an advanced mode which remixes the levels enough to make it worth while playing through again so it will keep you occupied for a decent amount of time.

The biggest criticism is that your character and enemies are quite small on screen. It’s not such an issue on original hardware but if you are playing the rom on a handheld or the Evercade version it can be difficult to see what’s going on. That said, you are never in a position where things become impossible. 

The controls are wonderfully responsive as well and allow players to leap around the levels with the confidence that your character is going to respond in the way you think. This is handy as the game runs at an excellent pace and suffers none of the characteristic slow down or flicker often associated with NES games. 

Overall, Micro Mages is a welcome addition to the ‘original hardware’ indie scene. It’s one of the few games in this category that would have happily sat alongside the original systems releases. This new focus on simple but effective gameplay and the creativity that working with reduced memory is breeding is something we can get behind with Micro Mages being among the very best examples. If you’ve never tried any of these sorts of titles before this is certainly one to start with.

Overall 8/10

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