Gunmetal Arcadia Zero

I haven’t seen a single metal gun, nor video game arcade made out of gunmetal, but that hasn’t stopped me enjoying Gunmetal Arcadia Zero ‘til the end. An arcade adventure with an obscenely customizable CRT filter, Arcadia Zero isn’t perhaps as deep as its RPG/metroidvania elements would imply, but it’s worth a visit.

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The newest release by the developer of New Retro Games favourites You Have to Win the Game and Super Win the Game, this most recent outing drops you deep into the world of the… uh, Tech Elves… yes, yes. Really. The elvopolis is being attacked, and the early adopter gadget loving elves’ military and mystics disagree on how to deal with the threat. So a strapping young elf – that’s you – heads off to deal with it himself. Silly tech names aside, that’s about all the lore you’ll need to concern yourself with – Arcadia Zero thankfully doesn’t weigh itself down with fables of a modern elven society in an Internet of Things, and quickly gets down to  some classic NES style exploration platforming action.

Arcadia Zero’s gameplay is mostly pretty great – the Zelda II visuals work well and look faithful to the style, the controls are responsive, the levels nicely paced and equipment is varied enough to keep things interesting. There’s a hearty helping of NPCs and shops interspersed throughout the levels, so upgrades or new items are relatively frequent, too. Items include swords, axes and spark shooting wands, as well as Castlevania-like subweapons (complete with straight shooting dagger and curve ball axes), and – thank god – the ability to buy ammunition in addition to smashing it out of inanimate objects.

Though it is a shame the apparent faction system is barely utilised – you can join either the military or the mystics but it doesn’t seem to really matter or come into play in any meaningful way.

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You’d be fooled into expecting Gunmetal Arcadia Zero to be a metroidvania what with all the various equippable items, upgrades, and explorable levels, but, well… it isn’t. In fact, unlike many new retro games of late, Arcadia Zero leans the other way entirely and is far more of a traditional arcade/platformer in design. For a start, the game takes place across a series of levels with a set start and end, rather than a single open world, and while each presents some nooks and crannies to explore, they are more like linear mazes. You do, however, get to to indulge in some traditional equipment and ability upgrades at shops, though these are not strictly tied to progression or exploration, making character development feel a bit more like Wonder Boy in Monsterland than Metroid.

The way progressing through the game works feels a little weird. Just like in an arcade game you have a limited amount of lives, and dying sets you back to the beginning of the level. Yet, unlike an arcade game your progress isn’t lost – all your gold, equipment and upgrades remain but strangely enough, enemies, rooms and treasure chests do reset. This means a lost life can be beneficial as you can scoop up more loot than otherwise possible in a single life. However, lose all your lives and you start over with all your gold, equipment and upgrades reset back to wherever it was at when you very first started the level. The mix is a bit weird, and in my opinion, it just doesn’t suit this game when either unlimited lives, checkpoints or a traditional save system could have worked just fine.

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One last thing I should clarify, as the name might imply Gunmetal Arcadia Zero is indeed a prequel of sorts, released as a buildup to the upcoming Gunmetal Arcadia. Apparently its followup will be a procedurally generated roguelike with multiple playable characters, so a slightly different kettle of fish.

Having said that, Zero is by no means a demo or preview, and works as its own game, but it is on the short side, likely only taking a handful of hours to smash your way through. Still, Gunmetal Arcadia Zero provides enough of a decent new retro romp through new but familiar looking lands.

Gunmetal Arcadia Zero | buy on itch.io / steam

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About J.C

I grew up in the dark dingy arcades of the 1980s, blasting heads with Robocop 2, but grew up in an era that spanned the introduction of the x86 home computer, through to the 16-bit revolution, into the polygon age and beyond. I write about food, travel and of course, New Retro Games. I started newretrogames.wordpress.com and contribute to www.thecitylane.com. I am also a freelance business researcher, writer, and editor having published academic and corporate articles on innovation and intellectual property.

Posted on November 15, 2016, in Arcade, Platformer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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