8-Bit Legit have been on a bit of a modern retro spree lately. In practically no time at all, we’ve seen the release of both NEScape! and Trophy – great little 8 bit titles that were designed to run on modern hardware. Now they’re bringing yet another game, this time Roniu’s Tale and its puzzle solving cuteness,
Can they keep the ball rolling and deliver another classic?
Many thanks to 8-Bit Legit for the review code.
RONIU THE MAGIC BOY
After falling down a hole, the young magician Roniu takes aid from a friendly ghost who wants to help him escape from the treacherous cavern. To get out, he needs to work his way through 9 floors of the cavern solving various puzzles and finding the key to get out
Not only are there a variety of obstacles and creatures in his way, which he’ll need to use his ever growing arsenal of magic to overcome, but the floor beneath his feet breaks with every move. One wrong step and you could find yourself unable to escape!
It’s a simple puzzle premise, but one that works quite effectively. Whilst you are limited to a paltry three lives, there’s no time limit so you have all the time in the world to plan your route around the screen collecting the key and getting to the exit. You’ll start off with a simple fireball spell that has three uses and can be used to blast creatures or break down enemy walls, but you’ll learn how to float across gaps, shift through walls, and even form your own path to walk on.
The trick lies in knowing how to use this limited-use magic in combination with the breakable floor tiles. It can be tricky, but never feels overwhelming (at least until you reach the more complicated final floor!). NES controller limitations means that you’ll be cycling between magic with one button and using with the other, which can get a bit tedious, but there’s also not that many spells either.
It’s a fun gameplay gimmick, but the real star of the show here is the presentation. Considering this is an 8 bit game that can play on an actual NES, the game looks and sounds astounding. The spritework in the main menu and opening cutscenes alone are enough to make your jaw drop. Levels are no slouch either, with each floor having a unique look that helps them stand out from each other. The developers have really pushed the bits to the limit, and it really must be applauded.
The only major problem with the game is one that also troubled the previous two titles from the publisher: it’s retro to a fault. Sure, these games were made to run on real hardware, but the modern console versions do include certain additions to them. These may just amount to a digital instruction manual and choice of border, but it still shows that some minor additions could be added to help make them a bit more friendly to a modern audience. Having only three lives can be a pain when it’s so easy to overstep and dooming yourself to failure – especially as the password saves will only restore you to your current floor rather than the level you had managed to get up to. Repeating stages is all part and parcel of the NES experience, but these days it just feels unnecessary. Having a save state or limited undo function would have helped me to recommend it to everyone, rather than just hardened retro gamers.
8-Bit Legit continues to produce quality modern retro titles, and Roniu’s Tale is probably the best yet. The limited lives and password system will probably put off gamers with more modern sensibilities, but this is one great puzzle experience that shows just how impressive 8 bit games can be.