Lots of you are likely already aware of homebrew games. More recently, you’ll also find homebrew games made to be physical as well as digital. Mega Cat Studios and Retrotainment Games have done this in the past. Today, we have big announcements from these guys and a review of Trophy. Let’s get right into it because I want to share the announcement with you first!
‘Trophy is a brand-new action platformer for the original Nintendo (NES). It is a love letter to such iconic games as the Mega Man series and Capcom Disney titles, featuring colorful characters, vibrant backgrounds, and giant bosses. The game features the classic movements of running, jumping, and shooting, and strives for a pure platforming experience, unhampered by excessive power-ups or useless abilities. Although the emphasis is on purity, Trophy features advanced technical features which have rarely been used in homebrew titles.
- Nine levels of intense, platforming action
- Experience authentic retro gameplay
- Explore diverse environments and terrain
- Blast your way through large, fully-scrolling levels
- Search for hidden areas and power-ups
- Parallax scrolling
- Cut-scene narrative segments
- Password system
- Face off against nine GIANT bosses
- Capture a full slate of achievements exclusive to Xbox (exclusive to the XBOX)
- Aesthetic. Honestly? This game looks better than the games that inspired it. I actually think the look of the characters, specifically, looks better in this game than in Megaman. The bosses are clearly take the cake when it comes to fun characters. Laurie Andrews is credited with drawing the graphics for the game. This seems like the meat and potatoes of the game. Probably the part that I like the best about the game. Usually, the music is where my heart goes, but the winning part of this formula is how grand everything looks.
On the XBOX One X it looks tremendous. The pixels are truly great to see on a 4K screen, even though they are likely not 4K themselves. But if you’re deciding between seeing it on CRT via NES or HDTV via XBOX, I’d almost wager the XBOX looks better! Having said that, I would note that the only real bummer here is that they don’t give you any scaling or scanline options. It would be fine with me to play 16:9 aspect ratio. But even for those of you who don’t, wouldn’t it be fun to enable some throwback video options?
- Story. Look, it’s an alright story. It’s pretty much just there to hold the levels together just like Megaman had. Could we do without it? Absolutely. Does it hurt anything by being there? No. I would love the ability to skip screens that are not gameplay. You’re pretty much forced to watch it. Because of that, I won’t spoil anything for you about it. It’s entirely possible that you might enjoy it or want to write fan fiction to it. In this day and age, we should be able to breeze through any and all non-gameplay screens. Heck, I’d even be okay with a button prompt saying we can hold down A to speed up the text or something. Okay, rant over.
- Audio. I told you that music is usually my favorite thing about a video game. In Trophy, the music and sounds were a close second to how it looks. The music in the game feels like it matches the levels that you’re playing at the time. Nothing grinds on you too bad if you hear it again and again by restarting a level. Having said that, the reason that the music takes a back seat in my mind is simply the fact that it is just sort of there. If you’re in the thick of gameplay, it doesn’t hinder or help. It is music that sounds good on its own but becomes very meek in comparison to everything else going on. Derek Andrews is the game’s primary developer and also made the music tracks that you hear in the game.
- Level Design. Platforming is my jam. I’m not a speedrunner by any means, but I’m damn decent at them. This game puts you right in the middle of some really fun levels. There are plenty of “am I gonna make this jump” moments. You’ll also have plenty of run and gun action. This all is rolled in with figuring out how to get around obstacles and make it to the end. There are typical levels that you would find in a Megaman game.
I really love how they made sure a little bit of everything was represented. Let’s be real for a second, every platformer seemed to have some levels that were just expected. So yes, you’ll be running along levels with black backdrops, you’ll see water, space, carnival, forest levels and of course a wintery ice level. There are others, and I think they’re all built pretty well. Am I happy with every level, no, because there is one in particular that I wish would burn in hell. But the rest were fun!
This is a game where you’ll find a boss at the end of each level. This isn’t a scenario, like Mario games, where you’ll have bosses after several levels. There are also only so many checkpoints throughout the levels. Failing to defeat a boss will effectively send you back to the start of a level if they take your last life. You only have so many lives, so you really have to be just as offensive as you are defensive in a game like this.
- Missed Opportunity. When 8BitLegit brings these games to XBOX, we need to remember that we have extra buttons available. I sure would love to see this game receive an update that let’s me enable the other buttons as turbo buttons. The same with the games they release in the future. Let me see a turbo button feature so I can hold a button and it know that I want it to rapid repeat in-game. I know that this sounds like cheating, but that really is a good segway to my next point.
- Difficulty. The difficulty in this game is not chosen by the player. It’s locked in and that is just how it is, but this really is no different than an NES Megaman game. I really don’t know if I qualify this as a pro or a con. Difficulty levels are usually all a matter of perspective and opinion. What I find hard you may not and vice versa. I personally found the game challenging, but not to the point of annoyance. Yes, there were times I wanted to toss my controller, but never to where I wanted to stop playing altogether.
I searched into it more to see if those who have reviewed the game so far found it difficult. The main consensus is that the game is fun, but not easy. It’s going to take multiple attempts, you’re going to have to master the controls, you’re going to have to memorize level layouts and enemy patterns. But once you have a level down, you’ll feel like royalty!
- Achievements. Yes, I am actually aware that achievements are a requirement for XBOX games. But I think that’s why the team behind this deserves a big pile of kudos. I think it’s great that they chose to go with the XBOX for the platform of choice, knowing this hurdle. Achievements here are a double-edged sword because if you want cheap and easy achievements, you just buy this game, look up the passwords, put them in, and complete all achievements. However, if you’re getting this game to have fun, and you should, you’ll get all of the achievement simply by playing. And dying. It just feels so good to take down each level and boss and get achievements for it.
- Password System. Speaking of passwords… I’m not really a fan of password systems. There isn’t an excuse for that nowadays. I understand posterity and feeling as retro as possible. I, however, don’t think that we should hamper progress for the sake of nostalgia. For example, on the XBOX, we don’t need the password system.
You can put your system to sleep and not lose any progress, thus feeling more like save states. If you play it on an emulator, then you get save states baked right in. If you were to play it on an N8 Everdrive, they also have save states. The physical version of the game doesn’t really have an excuse since it can have a board with a battery for saving. If we’re doing a password system simply for that one iteration and to try to save some money on production, it seems like wonky reasoning.
- Length. I always felt that Megaman games were too long overall. Not extremely too long, but just a bit too long. This game has a better balancing act of time and doesn’t overstay its welcome or put me through a slog of junk. By having levels that don’t have any fat or filler and only having 9 levels, instead of 10, this game is better overall. i hate feeling like “When the heck does this level end?!” when playing a game. That speaks to it being too long or too difficult or maybe even a mixture of the two. I find the Trophy to be the best value for the cost of $9.99.
We. Need. This. We need fantastic games of this caliber to come available for all to play. More than that, we need more companies to be willing to get indie/homebrew games to modern consoles as well. The small picture is that Trophy is great and will be played for years to come by you and likely your kids. The bigger picture is that we have a way to not just only play retro games on original hardware, but also on modern consoles. We’re living in a world where on one side of the coin people are repairing older consoles. The other side of the coin is that people will game on consoles and PCs. The more companies that we have seeking out these indie/homebrew devs and helping get them published, the better. Kudos to Retrotainment Games and Mega Cat Studios for working to make #8BitLegit come to fruition. I can’t wait to see what’s next!