What was once a derivative Sonic the Hedgehog fangame where the main character was a hedgehog has now blossomed into a love letter to the 16-bit era of gaming and the surge soda-fueled excitement of 90’s culture in general. It’s an action-platformer that grabs inspiration from Sonic, Mega Man X, Pulseman, Gunstar Heroes, and even space ship shoot ’em up games like Thunder Force for good measure, and it’s a beastly game in its own right. It sports colorful vibrant visuals, a funky soundtrack, and tight varied gameplay which takes advantage of the unique abilities of (as of now) three playable characters and the myriad of obstacles, enemies and tough bosses that they face. The main protagonist Lilac for example can do a spinning-top maneuver to be used as a double jump in addition to dealing multiple hits, while Carol can roll down hills and climb up walls. Milla can materialize blocks, do a Yoshi-style flutter jump and shield to block hits, which should give you an idea of the variety in playstyles that you can employ to exhaust its robust replay value.
Though it is a retro-style game first and foremost, it also boasts a trapping of modern games- fully voice acted dialogue. While shockingly well-acted considering this is an indie game (I gotta give special props to Dawn Bennett and Alexander Barriga, the voices of Lilac and Lord Brevon respectively), it’s a prominent element in a story that is, quite frankly, a mess.
First of all though the presentation of the story is great, as the sprite animations are lovely and some places (like Lilac’s treehouse and Torque’s tent) were specially made just for the cutscenes and they’re detailed visual elements that are fun to look at. The basic premise is that an evil intergalactic warlord called Lord Brevon attacks a planet called Avalice and sows discontent and conflict between its three resident kingdoms in an attempt to secure the Kingdom Stone. Lilac the dragon, Carol the Wildcat, and later Torque… the alien? and Milla the… basset hound are cast into an adventure to stop him. Though this sounds reasonable enough by itself, the story is plagued with inconsistencies and tonal problems. The intro cutscene shows Brevon decapitating the emperor of one of the kingdoms in front of his princely son, which is then followed in the main game by bouts of useless dialogue of Lilac and her friends talking about cooties. The whole game follows this line, with themes of loyalty, subversion, diplomacy and even ultimatum interspersed with awkward attempts at comic relief and character interactions that go nowhere. The character Spade in particular, brother of the manipulated prince Dail feels completely unnecessary to the development of the overall plot. It definitely gets my credit for trying because of the splendid presentation and the (mostly) great voice acting, and there are a couple moments in the story near the end that I liked, but overall the big problems soured my taste, and it outright failed to truly garner my vested interest in the goings on of the world and its characters. It’s nice that developer GalaxyTrail provided the option of playing the game in “Classic” mode, which removes the cutscenes between levels altogether, so you can ignore the story entirely if you wish.
Gameplay problems are few and far between, as it is overall an absolute blast (especially the intense boss fights), though I REALLY wish that the special meter Lilac uses to dragon boost could fill up faster, or another option could be present for the player to make it fill up faster besides collecting the blue crystals. I despise the moments where I had to wait for it to refill before I could ascend that ledge the most out of everything else in my playing experience.
Thankfully, lackluster story and characterization aside, the gaming experience is what truly matters and that in my humble opinion is a resounding success. If you had any passing interest in the platformers and action games of the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo, I can’t recommend this game highly enough.