By: Justin Redmon
Old-school games, you gotta love ‘em, right? Sometimes you can’t help but be nostalgic and think back to all the hours poured into retro gaming classics. Whether it was co-op on Streets of Rage, finally getting that perfect score on Duck Hunt, or whatever your personal memories hold, there certainly were a lot of good times to be had. Paradise and Archifishal Software hope to send gaming back to the glory days with Inferno! for Xbox Live Indie Games. Question is; does it stand the test of time?
One of the great things about retro games is the simplistic controls, and Inferno! is no slouch, either. The entire game can be played by controlling movement with the left analog stick while firing lasers to destroy bots and other craft with the A button. However, you will need to make use of the back button to check the map of each area, as some of the levels are HUGE. Getting lost is almost assured, so including a handy map of each area is a nice feature.
As for graphics and sound, the old school is back in all its shiny glory. The graphics pop and sizzle, and the soundtrack is jumpin’. Everything has been meticulously crafted to give you that perfect retro experience. Had this game had released on the SNES or Sega Genesis, nobody would have been the wiser, and Paradise/Archifishal Software would have made a pretty penny in the process. The only minor gripe is that some of the in-game music can get annoying after a while, but hey, you’re here for the whole retro experience, and Inferno! still delivers that quality product you crave.
The story behind the gameplay is actually pretty well thought out, but I’ll just give the quick version. A dead planet known as Allum has grown to be the largest industrial colony in the solar system and one of its four moons has been found to contain vast amounts of radioactive material. So, of course, they decide to set up nuclear power plants to fuel Allum’s productions plants.
One day, however, an unexplained accident happens, (Homer Simpson) and a reactor starts to reach meltdown. There’s only one safe entry point onto the moon, so they send you in on a heavily-armed firefighting unit to cool down the reactor before it’s too late. Why do you need weapons? Well, as it turns out, scientists in the future love both lasers and robots, so the plant is decked out with cutting-edge security. After the intro, the story takes a minimalist approach, handing out updates on location and progress on your mission between levels without leaving you hanging or bombarding you with info. It’s well handled and much appreciated.
The gameplay is like a mix between Pac-Man and a shooter. It’s an on-rails experience, but combat happens frequently. The basic objective of every level is to extinguish all the radiation and head to the goal. This is done by running over red-hot trails of the stuff strewn about all corners of the map. Tons of point pickups and power ups litter the levels. Turrets and robots will try to stop you but will ultimately die an untimely death due to your laser blastin’ abilities.
The levels vary in length, ranging from straightforward cake walks, to HOLY S#@! HOW LONG IS THIS THING??! That’s no joke either; without the use of the map you WILL get lost on some levels. Adding to the situation, everyone’s favorite level extenders, colored key doors, make an extravagant cameo here, bringing all the fun they’re known for. That’s not to say that the levels are inherently too long, it’s just that sometimes, even for retro games, enough is enough.
Throughout the experience, a few problems do arise. Strict time limits on some levels cause unfair game overs, forcing you to plan out routes — although I guess you should be doing that from the beginning. Movement is also not “free,” as every tap of the left stick or d-pad moves you one grid square on the map, which makes aiming at some enemies without moving toward them impossible. Minor gripes however, cannot hold back how awesome this game is.
A true treat for any retro game fan, Inferno! offers classic gameplay with a style that harkens back to the glory days of video games. It is a worthy purchase indeed.