Monday, July 20, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Castelian

Castelian, AKA Nebulus or Tower Toppler, is a late-80s game built by a forgotten place called Triffix (makers of such megahits as "Space Football") which, strangely, saw a slew of ports across various systems. I believe there are some mobile ports making the rounds as well, in addition to the old B/W GameBoy version which I'd got my own hands on several years ago.

This site sums up how most people feel about Castelian - the few who've actually heard of it and remember it, anyway. It's frustrating. This game is hardly about instant gratification - if anyone is reading this review and inclined to check it out, for whatever reason - be prepared to dislike this game upon startup. The controls feel fussy and wrong, the perspective and logic is all... abstract, the way the game's mechanics work - it's all "out there." But is the game all the worse for it?

I'd say no. For some reason, I stuck with this title and it grew on me. Not for more than a couple of days, but even so I deemed it worthy enough to devote a page to it! Here's the setup - you're this little two-legged hopping frog-thing. You must slowly work your way to the top of each level's tower to win, meanwhile floating things are trying to shoot at you or kill you. Also, you can fall and die.

The gimmick is an interesting one - as opposed to most games, the screen scrolls around from your perspective. It's been done a couple of times before to limited effect (specialty levels in BattleToads and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts) but this is the first time I have seen a whole game built aroudn the concept. It works - and it's a little tough to grasp at times - but I think it's cool.

Castelian = not for everybody. Maybe not for most people. But i think the fact it got ported so much says something about it, damn the naysayers. I havn't touhed it in ages, but I have no doubt I will pick it up again. And I will curse it again ("whyyy am I playing this stupid thing!!!") Because it's fun, it is different. Reaching the top of that tower after fighting with it so much on just the first level, you get quite a sense of accomplishment!

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