Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon
Stretch goals rarely extend beyond the realms of additional platforms and added modes, but Inti Creates had much loftier ambitions for its surplus funds, promising to conjure up a standalone 8-bit mini-game should the crowdfunding masses contribute enough coin towards their beautiful action-platformer Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night. that promise materialised as Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon, a delightfully retro spin-off set in the same universe and featuring the main game’s cast as playable characters.
Curse Of The Moon discards all modern bells and whistles in favour of an experience that looks and feels every bit like a bona fide nes-era Castlevania title. Able to switch between the game’s four characters at will, you are tasked with traversing a labyrinth of gloomy gothic settings, doing battle with all manner of demons, from giant bats to bowwielding skeletons. each member of this quixotic quartet has their own special abilities and secondary weapons; some add extra oomph in battle while others allow access to different routes through the eight stages of this peril-riddled platformer. Miriam’s whip attack and enhanced athletic prowess make her invaluable, as does Alucard-like Gebel’s ability to transform himself into a bat and sail over the game’s precarious platforming sections with carefree ease, while Zangetsu’s lack of range and alchemist Alfred’s lower health means they’re largely left sitting on the bench.
Inti Creations has perfectly captured both the look and feel of a game that’s nearing its 30-year anniversary, and, as such, can be punishing for the untrained thumbs and dulled response times of a modern audience. there is a less grueling setting for those uninitiated with games from the days of yore that grants a never-ending supply of continues. For a true taste of the past, however, Veteran mode includes the all but defunct notion of limited lives, also, getting hit means you get knocked back, leading to more than a few instances of characters plummeting straight to their deaths as enemies provide a relentless assault and the platforming elements really come into play during the game’s later levels.
In true retro fashion, characters feel slow and sluggish and have limited movement when it comes to attacking and evading, while these elements can cause occasional frustration, there’s also an undeniable charm to Curse Of The Moon’s staunchly old-school style. It’s a lovingly crafted, bare-bones approach that pays homage to the platforming greats, relying on the challenge of its limited yet solid mechanics rather than variety and flair.
Additional modes and multiple paths through levels grant a lot of replay value to what’s otherwise a shortlived side-scroller, and while it might feel too out-dated for some, for fans of gaming’s more archaic era, it’s a challenging and nostalgic excursion that serves as a fitting warm-up for Bloodstained’s main event.
VERDICT 7/10 a Delightful AND DEMANDING trip Down memory lane
Each of the game’s stages culminates in a spectacular boss showdown. Confrontations with these formidable foes involve a lot of trial and error as you learn their attack patterns and the timing for landing blows in retalation.