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8BitBoy (PC) artwork

8BitBoy (PC) review

"Average 8-bit throwback #45378453487"

8BitBoy (PC) image

One button allows you to run. Another executes a jump. When you pair the two actions, you fly through the air over yards worth of obstacles and murderous birds. Floating bricks hide surprises, such as flowers that bestow projectile-launching powers unto you. Coins net you extra lives random transformations, which remain in a reserve box in your HUD. I'm sure this content sounds familiar. Do you remember grasping a certain gray-and-black controller that feels puny in comparison to today's peripherals? Funny thing, though: I'm not talking about Super Mario Bros., but one of its Steam-released apes, 8BitBoy.

It's okay to sign and fawn at a painstaking recreation Nintendo's game-changing hit. Hell, I did for four or five levels. I marveled at how the developer imitated Mario's physics and worked in a variety of its older staples, even using them in ways the original didn't. For instance, springboards play a more important role in advancing through each stage. They lay hidden in areas that appear to be dead ends, and require a little investigation and experimentation to reveal. Secret nooks and crannies are also plentiful, whereas the original Super Mario Bros. showcased only a few of them. 8BitBoy is fond of tucking away hordes of coins behind walls, or placing 1-Ups in sky-high boxes.

Koopas took a hike, replaced now by a menagerie of birds. They're not much different from the koopas, though, as they sport similar AI routines. However, 8BitBoy's bird foes are a tad more colorful, not to mention decked out with tiny details such as peculiar sparkles or cybernetic parts. Sadly, they're about the only creature type you'll encounter on your quest. Sure, there are plenty of bats, snakes and bugs, but let's face it: those are all stock enemies. Where's the originality? Where are the standout features that a good clone demands?

8BitBoy (PC) image

Honestly, I'm not going to dock 8BitBoy points for refusing to step out of Mario's shadow. However, I am going to pick at one glaring wound: repetition. You see, there's not much to 8BitBoy. If you've played through the first five stages of world one, you've pretty much experienced the game (sans boss encounters). You charge from one end to another, negotiate standard moving platforms, tight spaces, beds of spikes, lakes of lava and/or lofty leaps to the point of tedium. The game's difficulty rating spikes slightly along the way, but not noticeably.

The same sights go whirring by as you advance. Hilly backgrounds you've seen before change color with each world. Dingy dungeons also reject any sense of alteration or sprucing. Worse, it's a repetitive cycle. You embark on your mission whilst outside, enter a fortress, exit the structure to glimpse commonplace scenery, and then reenter another vault that's more of the same where visuals are concerned.

I'm also struggling to conjure up glorious memories of my playthrough. All I recall are the times 8BitBoy failed me. Its wonky physics stand out the most, especially the game's slightly delayed jump function. I can't count the number of times I've plummeted to my death despite having pressed the button in what should have been a timely enough manner. It's especially aggravating when conveyor belts pop up, as you don't get much wiggle room when working with these puppies. They immediately blast you across the screen, and if your thumb is a fraction of a second too slow when pressing 'jump,' you'll end up in a fiery pond or impaled on a spike. Some stages even have a few conveyors with spacious gaps between them, begging you to properly leap from one belt and hit another to maintain momentum. That's assuming you're able to press the 'jump' button before the contraption flings you into a pit.

8BitBoy (PC) image

I cursed myself hoarse when fighting the final boss, too. Whenever the fellow shifted his strategy after each successful blow, the protagonist inexplicably refused to move. He'd stomp an inch to the left, a centimeter to the right, and only move side to side, as if he were mired in knee-deep molasses. Meanwhile, the mechanical bird got in a few cheap shots, almost driving me to rage quit before the grand finale.

At last, you reach the ultimate chamber and a fairy lets you know that you cannot see the game's ending unless you've collected all of the special coins. All fifty of them, that is... Had 8BitBoy been an exciting piece of faux-retro goodness, I would have gladly jumped back into the fray to locate the missing coins. However, 8BitBoy is a dull, albeit sometimes decent remembrance of Super Mario Bros.. It's not a great game by any stretch, but it gets the job done if you play it in small doses. It's a modest platformer, to be sure, but we're living in a world where modesty in that genre is tantamount to mediocrity.

Besides, if you really want to try your hand at a good game that mimics Super Mario Bros., I recommend playing Daemon Detective Gaiden instead.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (June 27, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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