Climb to the Top of the Castle
Ever wanted to do something, found out how unbelievably overwhelming the task would be, then decided it'd be a better idea to stay home and have a sandwich? Our hapless knightly protagonist in Climb to the Top of the Castle knows that feeling all too well, only in his case, sandwiches probably haven't been invented yet, and he's got a king breathing down his neck pretty much forcing him to haul his armored rear to the top of the castle and save the princess. Did we say "castle"? Because really, it's pretty much a mountain!
A few simple controls are all you'll need in Climb to the Top of the Castle. Jump with [X] and slash your sword with [Z]. You can switch weapons with the [C] key once you get something other than your blade. You can jump from, grab on to, or walk on most of the surfaces in this vertically-oriented game, allowing you to hop up platforms, hang from ledges, grab onto corners, and just generally feel like your own modern-day Prince of Persia.
Climb to the Top of the Castle draws a lot of inspiration from classic platform adventures, but it's got a distinctly active and humorous style to it. You never really stop moving, as between sliding down chutes and dealing with mechanical spiders and rhinos you've got your work cut out for you. But the levels are tightly woven to create a clear path from one end to the other, and you'll usually have to deal with lots of enemies as well as a few levers, switches, and other creative modes of transportation in-between.
Now for the even funner bits: mini-games, hidden items, and challenges! Climb to the Top of the Castle has a strong arcade slant, stocking you with ten lives and giving you opportunities to earn more by completing level specific challenges, such as beating the stage without dying. When you do kick the bucket, you start again where you left off, so beyond the extreme retry limitation, it's actually a fairly forgiving game. You'll also want to pick up the junk you see while exploring the castle, as there's a market you can spend it in that has some nice unlockables. There's even a few booths that let you spend your "cash", like the 1UP machine or the in-game platformer mini-game.
And yes, there's that lovely hand-sketched visual style. It looks fantastic in still screenshots, and unsurprisingly it looks just as good in motion. The graphics in Climb to the Top of the Castle help push this charming platform game over the top, making it a sure-fire hit with anyone who wants to save a princess, investigate an unusual mechanical castle, and swipe a sword to destroy everything you see along the way!
(Note: Currently Climb to the Top of the Castle is available for free via Indievania. To download it, you will need to click the "buy" button, select the free option or choose a donation amount, then receive the download link via e-mail.)