Upon looking at 8BitBoy, I never really expected something original or unique. Yeah sure, it uses 8 bit authenticity as an excuse to save on the graphics budget but I figure it should be hard to screw up Super Mario Bros that badly, so I decided to get it anyway since at the time, it was on sale for about 99 cents. It turns out that I really overestimated the inappropriately named Awesomeblade’s ability to create a decent game. 8BitBoy is 8BitGarbage that holds far more in common with the shovelware by LJN titles than any of the classics.
It is a shame to seeing as how, on the surface, 8BitBoy looks like it could have been kind of fun. It has open levels with hidden secrets and multiple ways to traverse, some moderately catchy music, and nice aesthetics for its levels. Sure, the graphics are overly simplistic and our main character looks like a potato, and sure the blocks look EXACTLY like Super Mario Bros, but this should mean that the gameplay is the same to right? Surely they couldn’t have fucked THAT up. Unfortunately, this all falls apart the moment one starts to actually play the game.
What completely kills 8BitBoy right away are its controls, specifically the way your unnamed protagonist handles. Your movement is unbearably stiff and slow, and your character carries way too much inertia. You will often find yourself dying repeatedly on jumps that one would have cleared in an instant in something like Super Mario Bros. Oftentimes; your character’s distance carried by inertia may be even greater than the distance traveled from actual controller inputs.
Doing simple things like hopping on top of a single block to climb a vine took way longer than it should have due to this game’s awful controls, and this is made even worse when one considers levels have a time limit. These two elements of design greatly contradict each other. The levels are clearly made with the intent to be explored, but the time limit shows that they intend for you to rush through as fast as possible. Of course even with that, exploration would be nigh impossible without repeatedly dying.
Honestly, there is very little I can say about 8BitBoy aside from harping on its controls. It looked like it could have been good from first glance, and looking at footage would make it look fun. The controls, however, kill this entirely. I figure I should mention that I tried playing this with both a keyboard AND a gamepad and had the same results. In fact, it felt even worse playing it with a gamepad.
Yes one can argue that “oh you’ll get used to it,” but that is a very cheap argument. Human beings naturally tend to adapt to something as a means of overcoming something; IE something that will only happen if you force yourself to complete this game. Games are supposed to be fun though, and if you’re trying to force yourself to complete something then that’s a bad sign. Also it’s clear that the developers must not have played it either, otherwise they would have fixed this control scheme.
Of course, even without the controls, it just becomes obvious that this game is trying to flat out leech off of nostalgia. Everything from the opening story being about a normal adult man stuck in a dead end job remembering his childhood game console and being sucked into the game Cheetahmen style (a plot which is never mentioned again in the game so it’s clear that they just meant to get gamers nostalgic for the days of old), to the fact that our main character arbitrarily has a hat but no neck just reeks of unoriginality.
I will disclose that, compared to most of the games I reviewed, I played relatively little of 8BitBoy. It is not simply because I got tired of playing it, but more so because I found the game to be outright unplayable. If it was just a mediocre platformer I would have played this one to the end, but this game is just terrible and I cannot imagine anyone playing through an entire game like this and finding any part of it fun, and if games like this were part of one’s childhood, then your parents must have hated you.
This review was originally put up on GameFAQs on May 5th of 2014 and has been re-edited and given enhanced presentation.
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