There’s a certain vibe and feel with classic NES games that are instantly recognizable among those who grew up playing Nintendo games back in the late 80s and early 90s. Recapturing that same vibe is a challenge in itself because any sort of deviation from it will be noticeable. Luckily the people at Mega Cat Studios know retro gaming well enough to understand the nuance and charm of classic NES games. Their newest game release Roniu’s Tale brings together the nostalgia of playing on a Nintendo Entertainment System with the contemporary challenge of puzzle games. It looks and feels like a game that could’ve been released on the NES, but is it just as fun to play?
Everything from the visuals to the sounds of Roniu’s Tale feels like it could’ve fit right into the NES library. The 8-bit aesthetic has seen a revitalization in recent years, with many new indie games choosing to render their visuals with pixels as an artistic choice. With Roniu’s Tale, the visuals exude a charming yet devious tone that matches up with the challenging gameplay throughout. There’s a wide range of colors that make things pop out, much in the same way the original Legend of Zelda did with its varying stages. All of the characters look and sound great here, which is a step in the right direction for anyone that loves 8-bit style games.
The gameplay is where some people will be divided on Roniu’s Tale. As a puzzle game, there are 43 stages spread across 9 sections of the cave that Roniu needs to traverse. The story involves Roniu falling into a cavern and coming across a ghost that tries to help him escape. Each level is a puzzle where you need to find a key and reach the exit, while also picking up gems placed in different areas. Things start off pretty simple with each stage but become increasingly more difficult as you get deeper into the game. Roniu can use powers to get around obstacles and reach his goal, with new powers opening up to you with each new section you enter. At some point, combining powers becomes a necessity to get around obstacles, which can get pretty tedious.
While the level of challenge is pretty good overall, little things about the game will become increasingly annoying. Movement on a stage has platforms that break once you move away from them, which can close off pathways and trap you in some spots. If you’re not aware of the layout of the level, you can end up repeating the stage over again or getting a game over the screen. Luckily Roniu’s Tale has a password system you can use to continue onward, but you’re only given three lives per run.
Without saving your password, expect to go all the way back to the start. This can be a frequent occurrence if you’re not careful when moving around the edge of a stage since you aren’t blocked from walking right off the end. It would be helpful to have your movement stopped right at the edge in the early stages, as opposed to accidentally walking off a platform. Anyone can accidentally hit a direction and fall off, costing you a precious life and possible redo of the whole stage.
Something else that can be tediously annoying is the lack of explanation of the powers. While you do see a quick visual guide of how powers are used, you’re not given full details about how they work. In some cases, you’ll discover how power can interact with certain objects or barriers by accident, rather than the game detailing how that can be. This becomes an issue when completing a stage requires you to know that beforehand and apply it. The same can also be said with how enemies can affect obstacles and objects within a level, which can also be required to reach a goal. Granted this might be an aspect of older games not always giving every important detail, but this could easily be solved by having some info text within the main menu. It wouldn’t need to be super detailed, but enough to make it clear that instances like this can occur while playing.
Boss battles you encounter are handled the same way as every other stage. You’ll have to use your powers to hit them while dodging hazards on the stage, but it’s not always a straightforward battle. Picking up icons to refill your powers and moving in the right way are the keys to success. There’s little variation in the boss encounters until the very end, where you face something different. It would’ve been nice to have different kinds of boss battles with different solutions to defeating them, as opposed to having the same up until the final sections of the game.
Overall, Roniu’s Tale is a good puzzle game with a lot of nostalgia driving it. It might not be for everybody, especially if you don’t play many puzzle games, but it’s successful in what it tries to accomplish. The 8-bit visuals and sounds will resonate with those who remember a time playing on their NES growing up, while others may enjoy the challenge of the puzzles to solve within it. If you’re into indie games with a unique twist, Roniu’s Tale might be right up your alley.
Are you a fan of indie games? Do you remember growing up with the NES and playing lots of different games? Leave us a comment below and tell us about all of it!
This game is good, with a level of challenge that might not be for everyone. It has great 8-bit visuals and sounds, along with simple gameplay to understand. There are some repetitive elements and tedious parts that stand out, but don’t ruin the experience overall.