I am the terror that stabs in the night! I am the hero that puts the action in your RPGs! I... am Scarlet Stranger!... well, okay, not me, really. But that's the hero of this stylish little title from Armor Games and Antony Lavalle, and I figure if you ever miss out on a chance to make even a passing reference to Darkwing Duck, you're doing society a disservice. Take up your sword and shield and dashing ensemble to strut boldly into Castle Chameleon, a sinister place own by the sinister-er (IS TOO A WORD) Count Thrashwoode, and dare to combat not just the monsters within but the ever-changing walls of the castle itself.
Use the [arrow] keys to move and the [X] and [Z] buttons to use your sword and shield respectively. Your goal, ultimately, is to rescue the mandatory princess and not die, but when the castle changes shape around you periodically, that's easier said than done. Your health is kept track of in the upper-right corner, Zelda-style, with a series of hearts. As you adventure, you'll discover treasure that you can sell for new equipment, or even crafting supplies to make your own. Just keep your eye on the timer at the bottom.
While the movement might take some getting used to, Scarlet Stranger really is an absolutely gorgeous little storybook adventure of a game, with the design by Super Flash Bros shining particularly bright here. Character and monster artwork is top-notch, lending to the surreal fairytale set-up, and is just plain adorable besides. Additionally, if you're old and decrepit like me and were weaned on the very first few Zelda games, you'll appreciate the way the gameplay is simplified in that traditional top-down action manner, complete with hidden items, magic switches, and... lumber gathering. The downside is that it does feel perhaps a little too simplistic, especially considering the grinding that comes into play later on. Still, with its flamboyant style and classic gameplay, Scarlet Stranger is definitely work picking up and paying a visit to Castle Chameleon with. After all, when's the last time you can say you saved a princess while battling octo-giraffes? (Thanks a lot, nightmare fuel.)