Monday 26 February 2024

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore Review (Switch)


Games inspired by titles from the past is hardly a new thing, especially on the Switch. But It’s quite hard to recall a game which actively tries to play on the unique nostalgia created by the CD-i, and more specifically the two Legend of Zelda games that were notoriously released on the system. Needless to say, this is for a niche audience but then that niche audience is us so let’s not complain. It even starts with the same sort of CD Logo.

For those too young to remember, the CD-i was a machine developed by Phillips and was notorious for having a rubbish controller and an awful lot of FMV filled games. Quality wasn’t generally high through the catalogue, but the system certainly has its fans and some games, such as Burn Cycle remain high points. It also had four Nintendo games licensed to it. A weird Mario hybrid called Hotel Mario, (which is referenced here in mini games) and three Zelda games (2 side on and one top down). Arzette, is an attempt to recreate the two side on Zelda games.

The story follows a fairly generic path of an evil big bad by the name of Demon King, Daimur threatening the kingdom. The heroic princess Arzette then must go and light some magical beacons, reform a magical triangle and destroy the menace once and for all. There are objects to pick up along the way, which adds a very light Metroidvania element, and upgrades to your health and weapons as well. It’s basically the 2D Zelda games without the license. It’ll take around four hours to finish and you’ll need a good memory to avoid backtracking through levels when you acquire something to get through whatever the next barrier is. At least each individual level is short so even if you go through each one searching it won’t outstay its welcome.

Visually, the game looks gorgeous in exactly the way it’s meant to. The sprites and backdrops perfectly recreate the feel of the CD-i games (no one ever accused them of being ugly after all). It also recreates the terrible cartoon/FMV sequences to an absolute tee. Only this time the weird voicing and look of the characters is being done ironically. Perhaps the most impressive thing though is this even sounds like a CD-i game. There’s something about how the samples work that has obviously been really developed and has been nailed perfectly.

Though it looks and sounds the part we are happy to say that it plays much better than it would have done on the Phillips system. If you want to understand some of the torture you can actually go and buy a replica controller for this game but save yourself the morbid curiosity and just use the Switch options instead. It’s also a lot more stable than the titles it draws influence from. The two Zelda games were full of constantly spawning enemies and relentless awkward combat. Here enemies stay dead while you are on the screen and if you do die, you’ll respawn at a decently spaced checkpoint.

Arzette plays well though, with your character highly responsive in the way you would hope for from this sort of action platform game. There’s a good tempo to levels as well and a nice balance between difficulty and progression. You can set the game to easy mode as well which offers up more health drops and lessens damage, but we found the default setting was a good, sweet spot.

Overall, Arzettte: The Jewel of Faramore is the reminder of a very specific type of retro gaming that we never really knew we needed. On its own merit it’s a solid and well-meaning animated platform adventure. If you get into the unique nostalgia, it’ll elevate it even more. We found ourselves pretty obsessed with it for its moderate run time. It’s a fun and unique game that’s well worth playing through and now we really want the developers to somehow remake the original Zelda games.

Overall 8/10

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