Switch version tested
Review code provided
We all know and love the classic children’s tale of Jack and the Beanstalk and what NX Games have created is nothing like that, besides the bit containing Jack and even that’s a stretch. Originally penned as a 2D side-scroller Steam release it wasn’t until our friends over at the excellent Blowfish Studios ported it to consoles that we could play it on our favourite hybrid.
Our setting sees protagonist Jack, a brave young man, in the midst of taking his love Nara for a relaxing stroll late at night in the dark woods, you know where this is heading right? When abruptly up pops Korg, not the funny rock guy from Thor, and kidnaps Nara. Oh dear! With his love imprisoned in an underground lair, Jack decides to jump into action and pull off the worlds most daring because he finds a massive magical sword. It is now a race against time and some horrible slime creatures to save the day.
Gameplay revolves around the proven Metroidvania formula of exploration, item collection, unlocks and killing all enemies that stand in your way but that’s often easier said than done. JackQuest can be a cruel beast when heading out initially, there is basic on-screen guidance detailing the core mechanics but accept that you are going to die. Thankfully there are a number of checkpoints that offer a quick restart point and through progression, plus conquering of the massive bosses, upgrades can be bolted on to even out that balance. The main annoyance was that upon restarting you aren’t gifted with a set of full heart containers meaning that you will most likely fail again.
Upgrades include double jump, wall jump, special attack and speed boost which all seem perfectly logical. The minimap unlock proved most helpful to keep things on track with points of interest highlighted, strange that this feature comes as an extra but very much welcomed. Layered over the top of all this are simple puzzles to solve, most will only take a moment to figure out but provide a nice challenge. The button layout is a standard affair and controls are responsive with no performance issues to be found.
Visually JackQuest is pretty, boasting a retro pixel design that oozes style. There are some really nice designs, especially hero Jack with his oversized sword albeit it doesn’t quite sit in his hands right. The intricate cave system has been wonderfully crafted mixing vibrant coloured sections against a stark backing, it really makes it all the more memorable. Where the game excels is in the audio department, a punchy and eerie soundtrack perfectly encapsulates the tone with spine-chillingly epic beats. The addition of in-game trophies on the Switch release is a nice touch that will help fill that hole Nintendo has left and give reason to replay.
JackQuest: The Tale of the Sword is a charming and delightful experience. It’s a little on the short side but doesn’t outstay its welcome and offers a surprising amount of depth if you get over the initial difficulty spike. With the ever-increasing Metroidvania offering in the eShop it would be easy to let JackQuest fall by the wayside but at 80% off (until 03/10/2019) there is no reason why you wouldn’t give it a blast.
TBG Score: 7/10
Platform: Steam, Mobile, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 24/01/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Action, Platformer
Developer: NX Games
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Download link: eShop