Dr. David's Indie Spotlight: 1001 Spikes and Grinsia impressions
Nicalis has garnered quite the reputation for constantly publishing rich retro-flavored indie adventures the likes of Cave Story and VVVVVV. It seems as though the company's always keeping busy, and its latest efforts include two upcoming titles. 1001 Spikes from 8bits Fanatics and Grinsia from Kemco are two vastly different games, though they both harken back to golden age of platformers and JRPGs, respectively. Whether you're a fan of brutal yet engaging 2D platformers or pixelated RPGs, these two games have a lot to offer your inner old school-loving indie enthusiast.
While both 1001 Spikes and Grinsia have been released on other platforms in the past, they're making they're way to home consoles and handhelds under the publishing banner of Nicalis. Suffice it to say that whether or not you've played either game, you should definitely keep a lookout for these enhanced editions.
You'll know if you want to play 1001 Spikes just by looking at it. By now, video game players know what they love and what interests them. After looking at 1001 Spikes for just a few seconds, I knew it was a game I needed to play. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to do exactly that at this year's IndieCade back in October. After spending a quick play session with the game, I knew I had gotten exactly what I wanted, which made me even more stoked to play the full game.
While at IndieCade, I spoke with Nicalis founder Tyrone Rodriguez, who was more than happy to share details with me regarding 1001 Spikes. The game consists of over 101 levels, and it presents you with a seemingly whopping 1,001 lives to get through them. I say “seemingly whopping” because in actuality, you're likely to get through this rather large number of lives in quite a speedy amount of time. Insert explanation about brutally tough indie platformers here.
You can take on the challenge of 1001 Spikes all by your lonesome or have a raucous four-player experience. The game's co-op support is clearly intended to make the whole thing even more challenging, and you can take on a friendly or aggressive approach as you see fit. Ideally, you'll probably have the most fun playing by yourself or with one other player, because as is often the case with these types of 2D platformers, three or four players running and jumping around the same screen at the same time can definitely cause a bit of unnecessary frustration.
Joining protagonist Aban Hawkins in his perilous platforming caper is a nice roster of popular indie characters. You've got CommanderVideo of Bit.Trip fame, Nyx from NyxQuest, and a few others. Each character has his or her own special skills, making them unique and offering something different depending on who you choose. Nyx, for example, is almost Kirby-like in her ability to perform multiple floaty jumps, which makes her a great choice for reaching higher areas.
Ultimately, 1001 Spikes is a game created to kill you hundreds upon hundreds of times (as evidenced by the 1,001 lives you're given at the start). That's totally cool, though, because if you like these types of games, this particular experience will likely provide you with all of those feelings of rage, joy, frustration, and satisfaction that you so eagerly look forward to whenever you play a NES-inspired adventure.
If retro-style JRPGs are more your thing, you should definitely keep a lookout for Grinsia. Previously available on iOS and Android devices, the game is now headed to the 3DS to offer fans of Nintendo's dual screen handheld a new JRPG romp to sink their teeth into. If you dig taking these kinds of games on the go with you, you'll instantly be drawn to Grinsia.
The game received decent praise on mobile platforms for its gameplay, visuals, and story, though some complaints were directed toward its controls. Now that Grinsia is coming to the 3DS, which features a D-pad and analog nub, that hopefully won't be a problem. If the proper tweaks are made, we could have a nice RPG that controls effectively and delivers a quality old school-influenced adventure.
Like 1001 Spikes, Grinsia features a look taken right out of an older, classic generation. The game is clearly influenced by the great RPGs of the SNES era, and it's impossible to miss the Final Fantasy inspiration. If you've yet to play this solid title on iOS or Android, or if you're just looking to enjoy it on a system that will potentially provide better controls, Grinsia is without a doubt an RPG to check out when it hits the 3DS.
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