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Timing is everything as you jump, dash and die…many times over the course of the 24 levels that make up Leopoldo Manquiseil: A New Super Hero Is Coming (LM). Developed by Madrid based The Vanir Project (Nightmare Boy) and published by BadLand Publishing LM is a retro styled arcade platformer which is a genre thriving on the Nintendo Switch. The game tasks the titular character with destroying the oppressive A.M.E who seeks to monopolise and control the video game industry and drive out the creative independent developers. While simplistic nature the depth to the story comes from the real inspirations behind it. LM was developed as an homage to David Santos who is beloved figure in the Spanish videogame industry and BadLand Publishing employee. In fact each of the characters you interact with throughout the story has ties to the industry in Spain as well as the companies responsible for this games creation. With that understanding the allegorical nature begins to shine through the pixel art and chiptunes.
Gameplay consists of traversing ever escalating levels filled with spikes, flames and even adds corporate suited agents. LM is not just a lowly character though as the title suggest he has some special abilities that when used in concert allow LM to double jump, air dash and shoot his way through the obstacles set before him. There are a handful of levels where the gameplay jumps to an auto-scrolling car where LM is tasked with not only avoiding roadblocks and gaps but also firing at aerial enemies. These levels felt very disjointed as opposed to the boss battles which take place at the end of each of the 3 worlds. These levels have you battling gelatinous blobs in a level hearkening a game like the recently released Pang Adventures. My favourite of the encounters has LM scaling falling tetrominos in a sinister game of death Tetris.
Level design is pretty fair. LM moves from left to right with the expected vertical climbing and leaps of faith down. Here lies the main issue with the game. The stellar Celeste and recent sleeper hit Daggerhood have you dying a lot, but on almost every occasion you knew as the player that you needed to do better the game design didn’t cause your death. LM contains sections that are pure memorisation. In addition, in world two there are floating enemies that appear off screen and as LM progresses there are instances where they are located where you need to land but you have no idea of knowing if they have spawned there or not until you jump. While not a deal breaker this added a level of frustration that could have been worked around. Secondly LM is introduced to the power of the chilli in world 2. This grants him the ability to use fireballs and infinite double jumps…when it works. There were several occasions where LM not only wasn’t granted that ability but wasn’t even able to do a single double jump forcing you to end a run and try again.
On the audio side of things LM is a nostalgic chiptune blast. Everything from the sounds of jumping, dashing to the sounds made during the dialogue scroll fits the overall aesthetic of the game precisely. The music on the boss stage of world 2 is notably a standout. The boss is trying to kill LM is a fiery game of Tetris and the music composed in this battle is not only spot on but overly enjoyable as you replay the level over and over.
While not bringing anything new to the genre Leopoldo Manquiseil does an admirable job creating the fun, fast-paced action expected in a platformer. While the story seems arbitrary the depth really comes through in its conclusion. That is when you realise that this is a story about one man, a real man, and his quest to save the industry he truly loves. There is no better way to have a story like that told than buy a creative team filled with people that love him to the same level.
Beard Score: 6/10
Nintendo Switch Essentials:
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 20/12/2018
No. of Players: 1
Category: Platformer, Arcade
Developer: The Vanir Project
Download link: eShop