Childhood memories of playing the SNES at my aunt’s house are the reasons I’m a gamer today. It all started there, playing the likes of Super Mario World, Illusion of Gaia, and an assortment of Disney or Warner Bro’s games (and the cool Jurassic Park). From there, I moved on to the Sega Genesis and then the PSOne, opening up my world to Sonic and, most importantly, Final Fantasy VII and VIII. Something about the earlier simplicity of retro games, regardless of how complex or difficult they actually were, holds a soft spot in my heart due to its accessibility and pure enjoyment. Fox n Forests, the retro styled action platformer from indie developer Bonus Level Entertainment, seeks to provide that same level of fun, challenge, and retro goodness that games of old so excelled at. And let me tell you: It sure succeeds.
Fox n Forests tells the tale of Rick the fox. He’s coaxed into helping a magical old tree by little Patty the Partridge, a snarky bird who helps you on your journey. The old tree asks for you to restore the four pieces of magical bark stolen from his trunk. Rick is offered a reward, so he ‘valiantly’ chooses to assist. He is gifted with a magical crossbow that sports a bayonet, allowing him access to both ranged and melee attacks. He’s also given the power to change the seasons on a whim (that utilizes mana, of course), which will come quite in handy when he begins his adventure.
Gameplay in Fox n Forests is wholly inspired by the 8- and 16-bit classics of generations past. Games like Zelda, Metroid, Wonder Boy, and Super Ghouls n’ Goblins heavily inspired this one, and the love and commitment put in to Fox n Forests shines with all of the aforementioned influences. The best part of Fox n Forests, though, is its innovative approach to changing the seasons and how that affects the gameplay. For example, if a wall of fire is blocking your path, you can change the season and open up the area for your to continue. Fox n Forests is a side scrolling action platformer that reminds me most of games like Act Raiser. Rick can, to begin, shoot his crossbow or slash in any direction (as well as a single jump/slash attack). As you progress, you can purchase upgrades from Patty to make Rick stronger and give him new attacks. Also, you’ll unlock different arrow types that will open up new areas for you to explore. Combat is pretty simple but can ramp up quickly in difficulty, and you’ll have different level types thrown in to keep the game fresh (for example, the second level of the second season sees you flying atop Patty in a sidescrolling shooter).
The visuals of Fox n Forests are styled, too, after the 16-bit era of games. Everything, including developer logos and load screens, feature the same pixelated art and fonts that we’re familiar with. Text, to me, looked quite a bit like Illusian of Gaia’s font, and I felt right at home. Sound, too, from the opening, sings its midi tracks like you just pushed the power switch on your SNES, and the soundtrack romped through each level with dazzling effect. When you change seasons, the song changes, too, which was a pretty neat and unexpected addition.
Whether you’re an 80’s or 90’s kid or if you’re just a fan of good gaming and solid platforming, Fox n Forests has something for everyone. Huge boss battles and level variations keep the game fresh, while the season changing ability makes each level twice as interesting to explore. Plus, with all of the seeds (you can unlock bonuses levels by collecting all of the seeds in each area) and collectables to be found, the initial game – which looks to be short based on the number of levels and seasons – will become quite a bit longer. For $19.99 (it’s $17.99 in its launch window on Steam and possibly elsewhere), Fox n Forests is well worth the money. As one of my most highly anticipated indie games of the year, Fox n Forests delivers on all fronts. Check this one out; you won’t be disappointed.