I love a good action platfomers, the tougher the better. There’s nothing like playing some old NES era title that does nothing but punish you and throw impossible odds at you. It makes finishing them a wonderful experience, as you stand over the game triumphantly, your glam-rock mane and cape flowing in the wind…Ok, that image is perhaps too much. Glam rock hair in the wind is enough, the cape is unnecessary.

But I digress. As I said, I love a good action platformer game and among them there’s a series I consider the epitome of the genre, developed by Capcom. Everyone knows it, most have played the games in the series and all who have know how frustratingly fun they can be: Ghosts & Goblins. So how does the newcomer and indie successor, Fox ‘n Forests stack up? Read on to find out!

Release Date: May 2018

The Good

  • Not the Chosen One: The Fox is a great character. In the intro cutscene he’s drafted to save the forest and retrieve the pieces of the Great Tree and while others are spouting nonsense about prophecies and chosen ones, he’s quick to dash their hopes and tell them he’s here for the payment he was promised. For him, the game is nothing but a business transaction, a giant treasure and a tasty bird at the other end of the battlefield. It’s a nice change from the traditional setup for these games.
  • Awesome DJ: The music is fantastic and every melody brought me back to my childhood, playing the classic Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. It’s the same style of funky action tunes, instantly family and forever memorable. I found myself whistling them as I played. I died enough in the levels to get to know the songs well.
  • Power Up!: Unlike other similar titles, Fox ‘n Forests is not a game where you collect items and discard them. You never lose access to the things you’ve collected, instead you expand on your capabilities, gaining new arrow types for the Fox’ crossbow and having the ability to pay for upgrades and new techniques. It’s a fusion of the classic style and modern games, which I approve of. I would’ve been disappointed if it had just imitated the classics. Fox ‘n Forests adds to the genre and brings something new and exciting to the table.
  • Oracle of Seasons: The Great Tree grants the Fox the power to shift seasons in the levels. A press of a button and Spring turns to winter or another season, drastically changing the environment, often affecting the enemies themselves and opening paths where there were none before. It’s great to find a watery pit from where enemies jump out and freeze them in winter, forcing them to crash on the thick ice and instantly die. Better yet is to cross a chasm jumping on falling leaves. I loved how the visuals change along with the mechanics, with even the background image shifting to match the foreground’s season. It’s attention to detail and I approve.
  • Linear but Open: In Fox ‘n Forests you play a level after another but you have a world map that allows you to return to earlier stages, including the home hub where you can upgrade your character and buy new inventory for him, potions and spells being the coolest stuff you can acquire.
  • Throw the remote: I said I liked my action platformers hard and Fox ‘n Forests brought me a challenge. I generally suck at these games as much as I love them and this game reminded me of just how much I suck, by mercilessly beating me to death on every single stage!

The Bad

  • Binding Horror: Fox ‘n Forests recommends playing with a gamepad, but as always I gave the keyboard controls a look and they are horrendous, with key positions that make little to no sense considering decades of PC gaming. More baffling is that there is no option to change the bindings. You’re stuck with profiles on which the keys are incredibly uncomfortable.
  • Checkpoint Heist: The worst thing Fox ‘n Forest does and it really infuriates me in this kind of game is that its checkpoints aren’t free. No, there’s an annoying NPC demanding an increasingly large sum of money to activate a checkpoint. On every level, the checkpoint price starts low but every other checkpoint costs double the amount of the last one, so if you wanna end the stage with enough money to afford upgrades, especially at the start, you’ll have to avoid the checkpoints entirely, which in a game like this is not something you wanna do. I dislike this design decision as it feels like a cheap way to increase the challenge.

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