Switch version tested
Review code provided
Story Bird Games have done us all a solid by making a great feeling, 16-bit looking game releasing on Steam and the Nintendo eShop. Grab your armour and sword, hack your way through dungeons in search for elemental upgrades. Lite Metroid elements will keep adventure fans playing that don’t care for a ton of running back and forth. Let’s dig in.
Upon startup, the language was Japanese which was a bit of a scare. As always with old school games the top option is typically start and the bottom options – I was proven correct by choosing the lower option and straight away given a language choice. Crisis averted. Normal and hard difficulty choices are shown after starting a new save file.
The art style is of the 8-bit NES era and I’m a big fan of that. That being said, it shines in handheld over docked mode visually. I absolutely love when new games have the old school look and feel but with that new age polish. Aggelos is that exact description and I love it. Right out the gate I love that you can level up your character. Each baddie beaten will give a bit of experience to boost you to that next level. Game over will deplete the experience gained and show your death count. I love adventure games with that light RPG element. Once the XP meter is full, your character will flash and “level up” appears above him which is satisfying to achieve. Once I gained a few levels, I didn’t find out what the point of the levelling system was for. I’m guessing it’s a “life” system so that if you lose all of your experience it’s ultimate game over. By the looks of it I’ll never know.
Gems are collected and used as currency but they definitely look like Birdo eggs from Mario. At first glance I thought, what are these eggs for? Gobble up them egg gems and purchase upgrades and health at local shops. There is an inventory slot next to your on-screen wallet that will hold herbs for when your health bottoms out. Hit that refresh on health and return from battle instantly, it’s a lifesaver. I love finding health upgrades to boost your hit points and extend that life bar. The last thing I’ll mention as far as collectibles go, is the elemental rings and essences found in each of the four areas. These elemental rings will provide a means of exploration that will allow the player to progress.
Save areas are tombstone looking shrines that will also replenish your health. Hit up and A, and the game is saved. Quick and easy, no load times required. I like that. Hitboxes are very precise. I’ve found myself uncomfortably close to baddies without touching them and didn’t receive damage. The music in Aggelos is that classic chiptune you’d expect from any NES game, catchy and fun – in the air dungeon area is the only time I had issues with it. The music would stop sometimes and all I would hear is sound effects.
Aggelos is funny – just as I think the game is easy, I let my guard down and a bat takes me out. It’s easy to let your guard down with such a great looking game. The difficulty is fair and it increases slowly in a way that allows the player to learn from their mistakes. You must, for baddies return when you come to move from area to area. To avoid any unnecessary Metroid back and forth, seek guidance from the castle fortune teller. At no cost, he or she will give a clue as to where you need to go next. So I got that going for me, which is nice.
Once I progressed through some small puzzles I realised the game hinted at how to complete them on the prior screen. In hindsight, I thought that was clever and that will assist younger players. Bosses are HUGE and the fights can be unforgiving. Some restart the player near the boss but others require some “over the river and through the woods” just to get that second chance. It’s good to restock on a potion and herb to prepare the best you can for battle. In addition to health, armour and weapon upgrades can be purchased with gems to give you an edge on increasingly stronger enemies.
More than a few times I consulted the fortune teller to get me to the next point of progression. I found in a couple instances I never ran into what I needed to in order to progress, and most other times I didn’t recall what would later be the hint to move forward. Nonetheless, others may not run into these issues and it doesn’t hold the game back. When the fortune teller didn’t seem like an option whilst traversing through the fire, I watched a walk-through that coincidentally had a similar hangup in progress. It’s funny to see others run into the same issues. Hashtag confidence boost.
On the fourth elemental dungeon my game froze on the pause screen, unable to continue. Coincidentally this was right after I posted a video to Twitter happy about completing a puzzle. The game said NAH, sit down. So I lost 30,000 gems, an ability upgrade, and time. No doubt this will be patched, as the great folks at PQube Games already tweeted a fix for those that have never seen a two option start screen. It didn’t take long to recover that gem loss and progress further than I did before. I made it to the bird bosses and got annihilated. Backtrack to the save point, fast travel to purchase a herb and potion, then get back to the boss.
It’s a shame some of the attack upgrades don’t come with a momentary invulnerability because they put you directly in harm’s way. The up-sword attack will surely damage you every time you use it against the enemy. The air travel attack that shoots your character across the screen will cease if damaged by a baddie. Both specifically are great attacks that prove useful but I wish they had that split second of safety attached to them.
Aggelos is welcomed to the Nintendo Switch console with open arms. The colourful 16-bit graphics are wonderful and controls are tight. PQube Games hit the mark with Aggelos and the struggles are met with satisfaction. This is a great game that I recommend you play. Thanks for reading.
TBG Score: 7.5/10
Platform; Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 25/04/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Action, Role-Playing, Platformer
Developer: Storybird Games
Download link: eShop