Written by Twisted Ideas
Over the past few years there has been an increase of retro-style games emerging reviving old, long forgotten genres. 1001 Spikes is one of the games. Originally released in 2011 on XBLA, an enhanced version of the game has been re-released on multiple platforms. Does this tribute stand amongst indie and 8-bit greats or is it better leaving this in a pit with 1001 spikes?
Developer: 8bits Fanatics
Publisher: Nicalis Inc.
Platforms: 3DS, Linux, Mac, PC, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Wii U, Xbox One
What is it about?
1001 Spikes is about Aban Hawkins an adventurer who feels under appreciated and living under the shadow of his father. Hawkins’ father goes to the temple of Ukampa but has gone missing. Hawkins goes to Ukampa to learn of his father’s fate.
How does it play?
1001 Spikes is a 2D platformer. Similar to Super Meat Boy with its emphasis on platforming but with tight and calculated controls. You start with 1001 lives to survive the temple’s traps and hazards. You have throwing knives and two jump buttons. You have a short and high jump crucial for jumping above and below danger.
The game is divided into short stages with increasingly difficult platforming challenges. Each levels requires a key to exit plus a golden skull used for unlocking new characters and giving an extra life. After a few stages you will reach the end of a section of the temple. You will collect a key giving you several lives and leading to new areas of the temple with new traps and designs.
There are several unlockable characters and costumes in the game. Characters from 8bits Fanatics’ other game Tempura of the Dead. Some from other 2D games like Curly from Cave Story make an appearance. Then there are costumes mostly derived from old NES platformers. Unfortunately The unlockable characters cannot be used to collect the golden skulls for extra lives and unlockables.
Other than the story mode there are two arcade modes: Tower of Nannar and The Lost Levels. The Tower is a mode with longer levels with a limited amount of lives to reach the end of each room. The Lost Levels are extra levels with only 101 lives you cannot replenish. These modes are mainly for earning money to buy extras in the game.
How does it look?
1001 Spikes is made to look like a classic 8bit NES game just will more detail. The levels are designed to be easily measured in square blocks with characters being slightly smaller than that. This allow you to easily gauge where traps will be and where you should be jumping, landing, etc.
The characters are quite detailed for being 8-bit. Some 2D characters have been altered to look 8 bit and shrunk down while other have been taken from 3D models and converted. They all stand out and are recognizable.
How does it sound?
The music is composed of tunes from an 8-bit chip set. These aren’t the best 8-bit tunes you’ve ever heard but there is a wide variety which is surprising and welcome.
What do I think?
1001 Spikes is frustrating but addicting. The game has a lot of fun trolling you. It’s not to the brutal extreme as I Wanna Be The Guy but they lure you into a false sense of security very often. People have referenced Super Meat Boy when talking about 1001 Spikes but 1001 Spikes is more user-friendly because of its superior controls. You know exactly how your character moves and it’s very clear when you make mistakes how to handle them for next time.
There are mechanics of the game that don’t always work. Arrow traps can be hit by your knives but if you’re too close your knife will go past the arrow and you will die. There are some spinning blades that can be hit to go in the opposite direction but sometimes it doesn’t. This is confusing because unlike the arrow distance didn’t seem to be a factor except when it would kill me. I wish that these elements would have been looked at because they feel like deaths that aren’t your fault.
Learn to love this screen. It help stop thing from flying around your room.
The game has an optional speedrun timer to encourage replay value for levels. It’s a lot of fun optimizing a level with a character. Unlockable characters also allow for levels to be beaten faster and completely broken apart. The best about optimizing levels is that your probably already doing so when you stuck on one. You start memorizing the traps and making critical points where you die often more consistent. Levels then become more about adjusting to the level’s trap cycles. Reaching a critical point a second early or late can change the difficulty and even possibility of making it through quickly or with minimal stops.
Should you get it?
If you are a fan of challenging yet possible 2D platformers then this is a must get. At first glance the game seemed light on content but the game is more jam-packed than expected. This is a great game and even fun to watch. It doesn’t require a whole lot of your time but it will probably take it. If you have a PS Vita then this is an excellent game on the go.