Its finally here, after being announced what feels like a lifetime ago this ambitious looking 2D boss rush game is finally out. And it doesn't disappoint.
So just to be clear - the game is mostly made up of bosses. There are some more traditional run n gun levels, but these are few and far between. With only 7 in the game, compared to the 20 odd boss fights.
The run n gun stages in the game though are all very unique and creative. They aren't rushed or phoned in for the sake of more content - all these levels have exclusive enemies and obstacles that really help make them feel fresh. And they continue to get better as you progress, the first two feel very safe, while the levels included in Isle's II and III are far more creative and really fun.
Now the bosses themselves... I love boss battles in games, one of the two main reasons I like Mega Man so much is the boss battles so I had high hopes for these (since they are the focus of the game).
And they are really brilliant. Each Isle has several bosses you'll need to clear in order to progress to the next area. Each of the bosses (from killer vegetables, boxing frogs, queen bees, an angry Zeppelin, an even angrier dragon etc.). Each boss has several phases to deal with, each of them proving to be pretty tough at first. You'll need to learn all the attack patterns if you want to survive each encounter - thankfully its fairly easy to see each attack coming, since all the bosses are animated so well so as long as your paying attention you should be fine! The boss patterns and phases are all really well thought out with some genuine laugh out loud moments at points. i've found myself lose a life or two simply down to admiring the wonderful transformations and animations on display, plus some of these boss ideas are things I've never really seen in games before - for example an early boss against two boxing frogs takes a turn for the weird when they transform into a giant slot machine. The entire boss fight feels like a mash up of several Mega Man moments (which really just makes it more awesome!) And later bosses get even more creative. I don't want to go into too much detail as it'd spoil the surprise, but trust me they are done well.
The animation in the game is simply second to none. Its all hand drawn, which for any 2D game these days is a rarity, but its even more impressive when you look at the quality of animation on display here. Its pretty much the most impressive looking/animated 2D game I've ever seen. Each boss is completely unique and has between 3-4 unique phases, complete with tons of different attacks. So that's a ton of animation on display! And the music doesn't let it down either - the soundtrack is composed in a way to complement the 1930's style of animation. Its top quality stuff, its a soundtrack I can easily see me listening to many times over.
In terms of difficulty - yeah, it is difficult. I'm getting through things fairly ok, managing to get A ranks as I go for each boss, but that's probably partly because I love these kinds of games, and because I've replayed each boss several times over already. There is a "simple" difficulty that reduces boss health and the number of phases the boss gets, but also prevents you from accessing the final area of the game. Even so, I can't recommend the game enough. Its a beautifully created 2D action game with some of the best bosses in the genre (or any genre for that matter). The difficulty level might put some people off but I'm pleased that they didn't make this easy, makes victory feel all the sweeter. I'll definitely be doing a second run on the harder difficulty once I've gotten all the A ranks in the normal difficulty.