Title: Retro Game Crunch
Platform: Steam, Windows, Mac, Linux

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Action, Collection
Players: Single player, 1-4 Co Op

Written by Whistler 24th June 2014













While certain games today will admittedly slap on the 8-16bit visual art style purely as a gimmick or to poorly imitate the retro feel; Retro Game Crunch by three man crew Rusty Moyher, Shaun Inamn and Matt Grimm, is not such title thankfully.

Retro Game Crunch is a collection of seven games that started with Super Clew Land for the 24th Ludum Dare game jam, instead of leaving it there they decided to kickstart their idea where the community would vote on a retro game theme then the guys would ‘crunch’ the game prototype in 72 hours and would then spend the next 30 days polishing the title and this was repeated for each title which came together to make of course, Retro Game Crunch.


Rather than review each title individually as there was a few I just generally didn’t like (I hate 8-bitesque card games) I’ll be reviewing the overall collection while occasionally referencing the titles.


Within the collective are 7 titles that each represent very different genres within the retro age of gaming that are the previously mentioned Super Clew Land, an interesting Metroid-esque platformer where you play a small creature and in order to progress must digest smaller creatures and evolve into new forms to explore previously blocked routes. End of Line is a reverse puzzle game where you must figure out how to kill your lovable little avatar robot and thwart the repair machines, GAIAAttack a 4 player Co Op brawler where you fight pirates, Wub Wub Rescue that sees you play a dog in search of his master liken to 80’s platformers like Popeye and the original Donkey Kong arcade title. Brains & Hearts, a two player card game, Shuten the scrolling shooter mixing a traditional samurai theme with the gameplay in Galaga and Space Invaders, and last but not least the Metroidvania action-platformer Paradox Lost that follows the tale of Abby who must use her noggin and her special time travel rifle to save the captives and unlock new abilities to save the day.


The pixel art style is nicely utilized with a variety of colours painting a bright menagerie of visuals while keeping within the retro-esque frame. It is notable though that for a couple of the titles it is clearly above 16-bit due to the vast amount of colour shades and such used but it doesn’t break the feel or feel like ‘retro’ was just slapped on.























For the most part gameplay is completely solid in each title though as to be expected with this ‘game crunch’ methodology, they all feel underdeveloped that would’ve have benefited from being fleshed out more especially Super Clew Land and Paradox Lost.
It’s the only issue really with gameplay; Shuten performs really well with a balanced difficulty but gets repetitive relatively fast. Paradox Lost involves some enjoyable time puzzles that even require you to mentally remember 3 separate level structures but loses it’s grasp on the player once you it starts to really rely on the backtracking and lack of story; even Super Clew Land faces the exact same issue and that truly did have some unique concepts. GAIAAttack was incredibly enjoyable with a buddy but the fact that you literally face off against the same boss at the end of the 2nd stage (hell he isn’t even palette swapped) just utterly put me off the game as it becomes a matter of learning the simple dominate strats then blaze away.
Honestly I feel bad for disliking the game for this, as it’s obvious that the devs were sticking true to that retro feel and kudos to them for producing these well polish solid titles, I just really wish that two titles that I won’t mention, were dropping and the extra time was allotted to fleshing out the rest. Just cause the titles aren’t as fleshed out as I’d like them to be though don’t go fooling yourself into thinking these games are easy nor bad; each title brings its own set of challenges that like any good ol’ classic will have you gritting your teeth and tightening your grip on that controller (the spare one since you already broke the other one).


Super Clew Land for example while appearing to be a simplistic platformer utilizes a lot of metroidvania concepts where evolving allows access to new areas but at the same time utilizes a puzzle+reaction mechanic where eating will give you a few coloured DNA strains, each strain has to be matched to a matching template or discarded, it’s a bit hard to explain but it makes certain moments incredibly frantic as you try to focus on various aspects at the same time.






















Of course the big question is it Retro Game Crunch worth your time?
I’d argue it really comes down to how much of an enthusiast you are towards simple fun games with pixel art aesthetics, myself I would say just purely to experience the concepts that Paradox Lost and Super Clew Land utilized was worth it and the more couch Co Op games like Shuten and GAIAAttack the better. The website even offers the 72 hour prototype versions so you can see the progression and polish each title was given; Retro Game Crunch is a perfect example of how creative and skilled a small group of devs can be, but it’s also an example of why it takes more than 30 days to make the perfect game.


Pros:    

Nice retro aesthetics,

Mix of couch Co Op and single player titles,

Some unique concepts.


Cons:   

Underdeveloped concepts,

Repetitive,

I really don’t like card games.


Final verdict,

Retro Game Crunch collects a total of 6.5/10.


Written by,

Whistler


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