Though its first incarnation, Maldita Castilla, first debuted in 2012, Indie developers Abylight Studios and Locomalito deliver all of the action and atmosphere of your favorite 1980’s era arcade platformer with Cursed Castilla. Already well-received on PC and Android platformers, this arcade side-scroller feels right at home on the portable Nintendo 3DS.
Gamers are thrown into the action immediately, as an extremely simple control scheme (aim with circle pad, use Y and A to shoot, and X and B to jump) doesn’t require a lengthy tutorial. On the mechanical level, the simplicity of those controls help lend to very fluid and quick gameplay. The player is able to concentrate on nailing the timing on those all important jumps and ducks.
However, don’t be fooled by relative simplicity of the gameplay mechanics. The number and the variance of monsters and pickup weapons, combined with a timer for each stage causes the difficulty to ramp up very quickly. These difficulties, combined with a limited number of player actions make mistakes feel all the more punishing. I found myself fighting against the first stage boss within my first few minutes of play, and dying repeatedly to the second boss minutes later. Casual gamers and those unfamiliar with platformers beware! This game can get frustrating quickly.
One of my favorite features of the game is the thought that has clearly been put into replay value. Though the game is comprised of only 8 short stages, the developers have added the chance to earn multiple endings and achievements. A gamer is therefore incentivised to go back and earn some achievements they might have missed the first time around. Additionally, the inclusion of timed stages naturally creates a fun challenge for those who enjoy attempting speed runs. I think that these features only help expand the game’s potential audience further.
In conclusion, I would say that Locomalito has achieved exactly what they had hoped to with Cursed Castilla. Everything from the visuals to the action and pacing (and maybe even some of the frustration) perfectly mirror the arcade experience of classics like Ghosts’n’Goblins and Shinobi, while the unique setting, monsters, and backstory keep the game from feeling dry. This is a pure platformer, that I believe new casual gamers and platformer veterans will enjoy this summer.