Golden Force (Switch)

In Golden Force, play as one of four pirate characters as you collect treasure and beat up baddies in this side scrolling 2-D hack and slash.  It imitates 16-bit classics, right down to the difficulty, and is available to download on Switch.

Right off the bat, the game pulls no punches as your tutorial level is a tough octopus boss.  They show you all the moves as you play this level.  You can jump, slash enemies, do an air dash, and slide.  After that, you’ll be able to tackle 2-D stages and choose one of four playable characters, although they all have the same moves.  There’s a generic blond sword guy, a dude with an axe and dragon wings, a punchy dwarf guy, and my personal favorite: a Shantae rip-off.  Seriously, I’m surprised WayForward didn’t say anything about this!

In the levels, you can find treasure chests with coins in them, and you also get some when defeating enemies.  Hidden in each level are also special large coins and shells.  Spend these items in the shop between levels to buy things.  The special coins and shells will net you some permanent upgrades like extra health, and the regular coins can buy temporary power-ups.  But boy, you need a LOT of coins to buy those things, and it makes it hard in the game because if you die, your coin count resets to zero, even at checkpoints.

And that’s one of the main problems I had with the game is the difficulty.  I’d say it was “Mega Man hard” in that you can get a little better at it with practice, but I still found it more frustrating than fun.  I know they were trying to emulate the difficulty of classic games, but I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with adding an ‘easy mode’ so more people can enjoy it.  It also doesn’t help that a lot of the enemies blend into the pixelated backgrounds.  Although I do like the classic styled graphics otherwise.

One good thing about the game is the controls are buttery smooth, but they don’t tell you all the moves you can do in the tutorial.  And if they do, they’re not very explicit about it.  For instance, in a later level there is a large gap with a switch on the other end.  I thought you’d have to do some tricky dash jumping to get across, but it turns out you can launch these skulls in the air, and then hit them to send them flying towards the switch.  I had to watch a video to learn how to do that, the game doesn’t tell you that’s what you’re supposed to do AT ALL.  With more and more games being digital only nowadays, game developers really need to learn to put better tutorials in their games, or just put a well-written in-game instruction manual in there at least.

Kid Factor:

Golden Force is rated M for Mature with ESRB descriptors of Blood, Strong Language, and Fantasy Violence.  You hack and slash enemies who spew copious amounts of pixelated blood when defeated, but I didn’t really notice any bad language in the text.  But the game is best for older gamers anyway due to the high level of difficulty.

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