Developer: Bonus Level Entertainment
Publisher: EuroVideo Medien
Review Context: As a gamer that grew up in the 1990s, platformers like this always warm my heart because of the greater focus on gameplay. I also enjoy playing platformers that try to shake things up in one way or another.
Date of Playthrough: June 13, 2018
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Disclaimer: This review was based off of a review copy.
FOX n FORESTS, developed by Bonus Level Entertainment is a game that was funded through kickstarter in 2016. FOX n FORESTS is an action platformer with 16-bit style graphics. As a gamer from the 1990s, this game peaked my interested because it tugged on my nostalgia strings a lot more than other current platformers.
You are a Fox named Rick. tasked by the Season Tree to retrieve four pieces of magical bark that were stolen by a mysterious force trying to unleash a devastating Fifth Season. Time has stopped and the forests have gotten stuck in the four different seasons. Rick is given a magical melee crossbow that can only shoot straight, do melee attacks, and has the ability to switch seasons in the middle of a level. Switching seasons is the major component of FOX n FORESTS that helps uncover secrets, makes passing across certain level elements easier, and adds more graphical flavor to each level once a season is switched. Not only are the visuals changed, but the level music in is swapped. Prior to playing the game, just by the description, I thought all seasons would be accessible to switch to at once, which would have been interesting. It was probably a better design decision to just make two seasons accessible at once and make it less strenuous for the player. Switching seasons comes with a price, as your magic bar will start depleting, but switching back the season will cause your magic bar to slowly replenish. I found the season system to be great visually, especially when winter was involved in the choice.
As you go through the levels you will accumulate gold, which can be used in Fox Plaza. This is the part of the game that really adds a level of customization and RPG element that adds even more more to it than most platformers. At Fox Plaza combat abilities can be bought, melee upgrades, magical bar upgrades, heart upgrades, and your magical potion can be filled up for a price. Not all upgrades like heart upgrades just cost gold, as there are special items that need to be collected for magic and combat separately. These items are found throughout the levels and usually in secret parts of the level, so exploring the level is to your benefit. Levels can be played again, so technically gold can be farmed for more heart upgrades if a player chooses to do so. I found the heart upgrades the most useful, because why wouldn’t they?
As you go through the seasons (levels) with Rick, at the end of each season is a boss and defeating the boss gives you magical bark that can be turned in to the season tree to get a new type of arrow. These different arrows each have a color and correspond to colored targets, where using that colored arrow unlocks a special passage way or platforms get to an area you couldn’t before. This is the ‘metroidvania’ aspect of the game that is somewhat interesting, but some were pointless and not very rewarding. As you go through each level you will have to collect maple seeds, and you need to have a certain number in order to advance to the next season (or section of levels) in the game. Some of the maple seeds are easy to see, others are hidden in passageways, treasure chests, and some are found by shooting the colored targets. You can conceivably finish each level quick, but miss a bunch of seeds. This is actually very likely to happen. Every level has a counter of how many maple seeds are available, as well as the other special items, so you know what you are missing and need to search for. This is the element of FOX n FORESTS that will either be ok with you, or be a big turn off, as treasure hunting for that elusive maple seed to move on in the game can be annoying. There is actually no individual benefit for each seed as it relates to Rick, but if you collect all the maple seeds in a season it unlocks a bonus level.
I found the movement and combat in FOX n FORESTS to be relatively tight (good), as some of the melee moves are a spin move and a ground pound attack that I found easy to pull off. The levels are visually great, and the different insects and animals in the game are well designed, even if the respawn rate is incredibly fast. That was one thing that caught me off guard, as the respawn rate is quicker than a gumba. The difficulty of each level is fair, and are there periodic checkpoints throughout the levels that you have to pay gold to activate each time through the level. At the end of each season section is a boss and I found the bosses to be well designed visually, and the combat sequences to defeat them be alright with the exception of one. The one thing that I found distasteful is that after a boss death you are immediately offered hints. I thought this was supposed to be old school? Even taking that out of the equation, switching seasons is part of most boss fights and there is one boss where switching seasons doesn’t have much of a factor in its defeat, which I think is just bad game design when compared with the rest of the bosses. These are not epic boss fights, probably too easy, so don’t expect long drawn out boss battles.
The FOX n FORESTS experience will be what you want to make of it. It isn’t for everyone, and may be a tedious experience for some gamers. The game is visually well done, with good art direction, and a good soundtrack. It is very clear that a lot of effort was put into the visual creation of the enemies, and even more so with the visual design of the bosses. It definitely will tug your 1990s platforming nostalgia heart and game completionists will certainly enjoy it, given all the items to be collected in every level.
Similar Games Liked:
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Sonic The Hedgehog (GEN)