Console Saga for PS Vita and selected Android devices is a retro gamer’s delight, combining GameBoy visuals with modern pacing.
Thomas Hopper develops indie games. Most PlayStation Mobile games can be attributed to either him or Nostatic Software. PS Mobile focusses on indie developers and offers that people can play your games on PS Vita in a separate part of the PS Store and on selected Android smartphones and tablets.
Thom’s latest game is Console Saga and is available to purchase on the PSM for €4.49/£3.39/$4.29/¥425. A handheld of ancient pasts which infact is a GameBoy has to save games because they turned haywire. And so you travel back in time to 1989 and complete four worlds á three levels and a boss fight.
The GameBoy has not only a laser weapon which projectiles can be upgraded, mainly in fire-rate, but also stole the ninja rope off of a fellow video game character from Worms. Utilizing the rope you can reach every last bit of the extensive 2D levels. That works quite well and if you use your weapon to gain momentum you can reach even further. New paths open up and you can collect all of the manuscript pages which makes a page icon show up on the level select screen once you collected all of them in one level.
This ancient video game console fights vicious monochrome blobs. These mostly just crawl but some can perform giant leaps or even fly and shoot at you. Other hazards include laser barriers bordering the level and of course chainsaw blades which must be passed. There are checkpoints which are displayed as cartridges. You must collect them to be able to exit the level through the CRT TV. They also fill up one of your battery cells which serve as your life bar. If the GameBoy runs completely out of juice – meaning you die more than four times – he may continue the current level from the start.
Console Saga plays well and quickly gets you in a kind of a flow which more and more indie games on Vita manage to do (see OlliOlli). Even platformer experts manage to sweat out some mushrooms at the later levels as the combination of shooting, jumping off jump pads and roping gets increasingly more difficult. Support of the Vita’s analog-stick is missing, so you have to use the handheld’s (super precise) digital control pad. Also absent is the ability to properly aim the release of your rope. Per standard it shoots diagonally which not always fits the unorthodox level architecture. If you try to adjust that your character moves aswell and you not only launch your rope but also yourself in the next pit.
Speaking of unorthodox level design: You can let the game randomize levels using unique letter codes. This feature proves its value especially when you discover a cool level and share the letter code with a friend who can then play this exact level in his game and try to set a new best time, reminding of arcade classics which used these sequences as passwords to save and restore your progress. There are no checkpoints in random levels which makes sense due to its nature and they always give you a new challenge.
If you’re looking for a nice retro experience in the shape of a jump’n’run that challenges you and not only gives you weapons but also the ability to explore the level architecture then you should give this 36 MB lightweight a go. The game tells a nice little story and we quite enjoyed the retro beats. If you like the art style and games in the vain of Bit.Trip or Pix’N Love you should give it a shot, at the latest when it goes on sale.