Retro platforming titles are two a penny! Whenever you look at the indie gaming scene, a new platforming experience is begging to be tried out. However, how can you pick decent games from the tripe? Well, that is the question I ask myself regularly and something that I considered when I was given Bat Boy to preview.
Developed by Sonzai Games and X PLUS Company Limited and published by the latter, this is a platforming experience. What’s more, it is delightfully retro in its approach, easy to understand, and oozes old-school charm. On top of this, there is some replay value thanks to its drip-fed mechanics and hidden collectables. Yet, does it do enough to make it stand out from its peers?
Bat Boy has a ridiculous plot.
Like every popular 90s platforming experience, Bat Boy enters the realms of the ridiculous. You control Ryosuke, who is a schoolboy who enjoys playing with his friends. Yet, this young lad and his pals are no ordinary youngsters! No, these sports-loving kids are also superheroes. Therefore, when Lord Vicious arrives and tries to host a sinister athletic event, the friends won’t stand for it. But sadly, Lord Vicious has other plans and kidnaps everyone except for Ryosuke. Accordingly, this young lad must use his special powers and his superhero alter ego of Bat Boy to save the day.
As I said, Bat Boy is pretty ridiculous. However, it is this madness that makes it work on many levels. Not only is the writing amusing, but each stage is interesting, the sub-bosses are challenging, and surviving each platforming element tests your skills. As such, it has everything you want from this genre and much more.
From zero to hero.
The protagonist may picture themselves as a hero, but to start with, they are weak as hell. Consequently, the opening levels involve basic but well-trodden mechanics that won’t shock you. Yet, once the action progresses, you’ll unlock new skills that enable you to jump higher, move quicker, and attack tougher enemies.
When these elements are unlocked, the game evolves nicely. Not only do you feel empowered to kick some ass, but you can return to previous stages to find hidden locations and collect any missed items. This was fantastic, as it scratched that completionist itch inside us all. Furthermore, it was great as you could ignore it if you so wished. Alongside this, I enjoyed the simplicity of the overworld map. Its design reminded me of the Super Mario Bros. node-style map, as you have the freedom to tackle any stage that you’ve unlocked.
Though there was a lot to love about Bat Boy, it doesn’t offer an original experience. Yes, the writing is good; the backdrops are interesting, and the characters are colourful, but it feels extremely familiar. Now, this isn’t a bad thing per se, but the lack of originality may annoy some veteran gamers. I, though, enjoyed the retro ideas and the overwhelming nostalgia vibes that ooze from every pore.
Bat Boy is pixelated and dated.
I know what you are thinking, “Why, oh why, do we want another pixelated game?”. Well, fortunately, or unfortunately, the pixelated approach is here to stay. Subsequently, I’ve given up fighting it. Instead, I enjoy the old-school charm, interesting stage design, and fun sprites. Thankfully, Bat Boy has this in abundance as you tackle an array of weird and wonderful creatures. Additionally, the bosses are huge, scary, and ridiculously overpowered. Moreover, the level design is clever, as it hides many secrets in plain sight. Therefore, it is perfect for casual gamers and those that want a deeper experience.
The audio follows suit thanks to its electronic vibes. With high-energy and upbeat tracks, it screams 80s-90s gaming. What’s more, the shrill yet basic sound effects enhance the retro narrative.
The developers have created a user-friendly title. With drip-fed mechanics, an excellent tutorial, and responsive inputs, this is easy to pick up and play. Additionally, the straightforward controller layout helps you further still. However, what I adored most was the introduction of new skills. As you kill each boss, you’ll absorb their abilities. This was fantastic, as it added depth to the gameplay without complicating the action.
Bat Boy is as casual or as deep as you want it to be. If you so wish, you can fly through every stage and bum-rush the core gameplay. Alternatively, you can return to search out the hidden fruity collectables to help make special drinks for the local vendor. Whatever you decide, you’ll enjoy the platforming elements and the array of creatures you must overcome.
Bat Boy is silly and ridiculous, but all too familiar.
Bat Boy doesn’t break the mould. Consequently, experienced gamers will enjoy familiar gameplay and polished mechanics. As such, though it doesn’t evolve the genre, it is enjoyable to play nonetheless. Furthermore, the plot is silly, the action is ridiculous, and the aesthetics are wonderfully old-school. Accordingly, I enjoyed it despite its familiarity, and I recommend that you buy it here! Can you save your squad and defeat Lord Vicious? Jump chasms, climb walls, activate switches and destroy enemies in this charming retro title.