There is a clear divide between the love of modern and dated games. You either adore the pixelated graphics, simple controls, and silly stories. Or you don’t! I love retro gaming and I admire the simple concepts, frustrating controls, and rage-inducing moments. Therefore, Trophy caught my eye thanks to its nostalgia-fuelled moments and sense of “just one more go”.
Developed by Gradual Games and published by 8-Bit Legit, this is a tough and addictive retro platform title. Originally developed for use with an NES cartridge, it now expands its appeal on the Xbox One. It captures everything that made the genre and era fantastic, and I loved the trip down memory lane.
Trophy has a ridiculous plot.
80s and 90s gaming revolved around bizarre plots and interesting characters. Luckily, Trophy follows suit as very little makes sense. You control the amusingly named Dr Jared Sword. He and Dr Xela Quine befriend the inhabitants of the planet Gearus 9, and Sword returns to Earth to demonstrate his findings. One of the sentient beings called Beeper accompanies him to Earth to prove that robots and mankind can live in harmony.
The plan would have been perfect if it wasn’t for Quine. Sadly, isolation drives the doctor mad, and he genetically modifies the remaining robots. With a deadly army at his disposal, he declares himself Lord Q and plans to take over the known universe! Fortunately, though, not all is lost and only one being can stand in his way. Sword and Beeper use the secret technology of Gearus 9 as they merge to create a robotic being known as Trophy.
As I said, it makes no sense, but let those concerns wash over you. If you can accept the nonsensical story, you’ll love the challenging gameplay and the simple concepts. Effectively, you must move through each stage aiming to survive, while killing every creature in sight. You have limited lives and health, but you must still get to the finish line. You face nine levels and nine gargantuan bosses. Each has strengths and weaknesses, and you must exploit them in order to be successful. Alongside the level ending nightmares, you’ll face an array of creatures and traps that must be destroyed or avoided.
Well-trodden but excellent execution.
Trophy doesn’t tread any new ground and this may frustrate some players. Me, however, I adored its nod to a much-loved era and its challenging ways. Though the levels are small, your enemies predictable, and the bosses can be manipulated, it will still test you throughout. This is a game that is as much about dated aesthetics as it is memorising each stage. You are required to remember every foe you face and the correct path to take. You will need oodles of skill and a healthy dose of luck if you wish to be successful.
Running around while avoiding every enemy is one thing, but killing everything in sight was my go-to option. Fortunately, Trophy is armed with a triple-shot laser, and this deadly tool will decimate your enemies while making you look badass. Blasting your foes while swimming through water, avoiding spikes, climbing ladders, and more was enthralling. However, one false move and you’ll die. Unfortunately, there is no room for error and the brutality of NES gaming is evident in every element.
If you are fortunate, you can collect extra lives or health boosts as your enemies falter. Unfortunately, though, the chances of receiving these bonus items are slim, and this makes the action harder still. If you die, and you will, you will restart at the last checkpoint. Furthermore, if you are unlucky enough to run out of lives, the level is over and you must start again. It is infuriating and you’ll be tempted to swear, rage-quit, or smash your controller.
Trophy is brilliantly dated.
If you’ve played an NES or Master System, you’ll remember the artistic slowdown and pixelated imagery. Trophy has captured this perfectly as the gameplay occasionally stutters to a near stop. Subsequently, this was frustrating at first, but this quickly turned to enjoyment as you begin to love the authentic retro experience. Moreover, thanks to its side-scrolling design, pixelated imagery, and garish tones, this will teleport you back to the 80s immediately.
Nothing screams early console gaming more than synth wave music. Luckily, Trophy has a brilliant blend of hard-hitting and calmer tunes for you to enjoy, and each stage has a unique soundtrack. I loved the variety on offer and the complementary sound effects! The shrill noises and rudimentary sounds are familiar, but they work brilliantly within the genre. It, unfortunately, doesn’t break the mould, but the audio is excellent and it was easy to forgive the lack of originality.
Easy to play, tough to master.
Retro games lack complexity, and Trophy is no different. You must focus on shooting and navigating each level, and therefore, it is easy to play. However, you’ll be lulled into a false sense of security as it’s tough to master. You must remember every detail while trying to avoid projectiles, traps, and enemies. It’s easier said than done, as the controls are a little clumsy. The protagonist can only shoot horizontally, and this makes tackling some enemies much harder. These limitations test your ability, make you angry, and transport you back to the 80s.
Limited to only nine levels, you may wonder if it’s good value for money. If it wasn’t for the difficult nature of the gameplay, then it would be over extremely quickly. However, the action is wonderfully padded thanks to the brutal bosses and tricky monsters. Furthermore, you must memorise the traps, paths, and creatures on every level. It’ll test your reactions, patience, and memory, and rage-quitting and failure are guaranteed.
Trophy is brilliantly retro.
Trophy will undoubtedly divide its audience, as its retro gameplay won’t appeal to all. Yet, if you are an older gamer, or simply love old-school titles, you must play this! It reeks of nostalgia, has excellent pixelated graphics, and the synth music is awesome. Then there are the era-accurate controls, brutal bosses, and great level designs. I adored it and I recommend you to buy it here! Can you stop the mad doctor in his tracks? Nine levels and gargantuan bosses stand between you and victory, so best of luck.