I love when the theme is right there in the title. Tower of Greed, by Epic Shadow, is a game about the banker's favorite deadly sin, in the form of an aggressively retro, fast-moving platformer. You'll need agile fingers for this one, and a realistic attitude about your own compulsions. Will you exit the tower with untold riches? Or will you be betrayed by your own stinking avarice? Let's find out!
Our hero for this adventure is a white blobby flavorless fellow with charming green vertical eye-slits and various nubs that represent arms, legs, and possibly ears. Control him with the keyboard; there are configurations available for both lefties and righties. He runs, jumps, and climbs ladders with the best of 'em.
The Tower of Greed, an endless spire full of ladders, spikes, crumbling platforms and other exciting business, scrolls downward at a constant rate, always forcing new obstacles upon you. You die if and only if the bottom of the screen overtakes you.
Your mission is to collect as much treasure as possible, and then escape (press [up] or [jump]) alive through one of the periodic exit doors. That last part—the escaping—is more important than you think. If you don't use one of those exits, if you perish to the Nothing, then your collection of riches gets wiped from memory like you never had it. No high score, no bragging rights, no peck on the cheek, no enchilada. It's similar to the soul-crushing hi-jinks of Survivor 115, if you remember that one.
What's worse, and you're going to want to sit down for this, and I'm not sure why you would be reading this while standing, but sit down anyway, is that you also lose your achievements when you die.
Yaar. That be what I said, matey. Because they're not actually achievements, you see, but trophies, and you have to physically take them out of the tower through an exit if you want to keep them. If you die, then bye-bye cute little achievements! Bye-bye sweety darlings! I'll try to earn you again next time! Right after I murder some game designers!
There are two main modes available. Arcade mode is the brutal one, where with every door, you have to decide whether you want to quit the game and take your winnings, or continue on and possibly lose everything. Big bucks! Big money! No Whammies! No Whammies! Survival Mode gives you more breathing room, by letting you bank your money and trophies when you reach a door and still keep playing. Less hardcore, but also less likely to cause an aneurysm.
Analysis: All things considered, it's a good thing that Tower of Greed moves so very quickly. If you lose your progress, and you will, it doesn't take long to jump back in and make some more. The tower's "levels" are randomly selected, so it's never exactly the same game twice.
The level design is mostly simple and workable, with two or three different paths available at any given time, so you are almost always within arm's reach of safety. The dead ends and risky jumps are all gem-laden optional areas, designed to take advantage of your dot dot dot greeeed.
Your vanilla-man walks and jumps with absolutely no realism, which is good, because that's the only way this could possibly work. He has no inertia, air resistance, or friction. He stays where you put him and moves like lightning when you request it. About as ghost-white and bland as a lead character can possibly be, he is nontheless trustworthy.
The enemies are perhaps not such a great design decision. They too move with incredible speed, especially the vicious, ladder-climbing Snail Shark, but they can't kill you directly. Their goal is to delay you until the auto-scroll catches up, or possibly just knock you off a platform. Randomly appearing creatures that move too fast to be avoided are annoying, not fun. Annoying annoying annoying. They should have been stripped from the game and tossed in a juice-maker.
Regardless, I am firmly pro-Tower of Greed. The maddening features are the same ones that suck you back in over and over again. I can't say enough good things about a platform game that pulls random levels out of a hat and throws them at you rapid-fire, even if many of the harder bits are just the easy bits with more disappearing blocks and conveyor belts. It's a tough game, but it traps you anyway, by attacking the weak spot at your core. Endless treasure at your fingertips, but you have to know when to say when.