Adventure Apes and the Mayan Mystery
It's adventure time and ape time! Adventure Apes and the Mayan Mystery is a retro-inspired platform adventure from ScaryPotato that shares a few genre points with games like La-Mulana, Cave Story+, and many other metroidvania games. As you quest about through the jungle, opening up new areas to explore as you find new tools and power-ups, you'll need to keep an eye out for coins, keys, treasure chests, and relics, all while dispatching common enemies and squaring off against more formidable boss foes. It's all action and adventure, and it's all good fun, from beginning to end!
Somewhere off the coast of Mexico rests an ancient relic that is both incredibly valuable and incredibly shiny. Horatio Hawk has decided he wants this relic, so he skips on in and nicks it. Enter Mitch and Otis, the aforementioned Adventure Apes, who immediately spring into action! Unfortunately Otis slips on a banana peel not three feet from his bed, so while he rests and recovers, it's time for Mitch to head into the jungle (and temple, and lava tunnel, and underground lair) to set things right. You're not alone on the adventure, though, as both Otis and Dr. A can be called upon for a little help and advice while you're deep inside ancient structures.
Adventure Apes controls quite nicely with the [arrow] keys, used for walking, jumping, and rolling into a tiny little ball. Pick up and throw small blocks with [A], and when you find new weapons, use them with the [S] key. As you continue your hunt, you'll obtain item upgrades that both enhance current abilities or bestow brand new ones, like bombs or ghost vision. As soon as you get a new skill, use it to explore new parts of the level. Go ahead, do it!
Analysis: It's hard to argue with a retro metroidvania game that stars a pixel monkey. Really, it's hard to argue with just about everything in the game, as it feels like it was precisely tuned to provide a little challenge without a hint of frustration. Even if you worry about getting lost, the download includes a nice little instruction booklet that maps out all six levels, showing just enough detail to point you in the right direction without spoiling the puzzles or the fun. Kinda makes you miss the old school printed manuals, doesn't it?
Perhaps the only real shortcoming with Adventure Apes is that it takes a little while to really get going. The controls are somewhat loose, which takes some time to get used to, but as far as the levels are concerned, the interesting bits don't begin until you've spent half an hour or so with the game. It doesn't exactly reach out and grab you from the get-go, but once you settle in with it, this is a game you'll want to explore until every passageway reveals its secrets to you.
It's the perfect little retro release that knows precisely what we want from our platform exploration games and delivers it without hesitation. A fantastic journey with a budget price that provides a good five or six hours of entertainment. Come for the monkeys and the treasures, stay for the hidden power-ups and fast-paced boss battles!