Review by SneakTheSnake
"A wonderful puzzle-platformer for a very reasonable price."
I don't know if this was the developers' intent when making this game, but this game took me right back to the days of DOS. Everything about it, from the gameplay to the aesthetics to the oodles of levels divided into small episodes - screams 1991. That's not really a bad thing... well, not to me at least. Archibald's Adventures looks, plays and sounds like a game from yestermillennium, and that's just fine with me.
The game follows Archibald, a young skateboarder (nah, not that "ultra mondo extreme" kind of skateboarder" so popular back in the day) out with his friends. He must've skated off the wrong ramp, because he suddenly finds himself in the laboratory of an absent-minded professor. It's up to Archibald to escape the lab and avoid the professor's whacked-out genetic experiments.
This is a puzzle platformer through and through. The goal of each stage is, ostensibly, to get to the goal while avoiding obstacles along the way. Archibald's always on his skateboard, so he can use his built-up momentum to leap across long gaps. He'll be flipping levers, activating pressure pads and avoiding enemies in his little 2D quest. The game starts messing with the formula early on, and it's the switch-ups in gameplay which make the game all the more interesting.
Archibald soon gets a bubble gun; players control the movement of these extra-large bubbles, which can stick to (and transport) boxes around the levels. This is a great game mechanic, and it serves well in the game's various puzzles. Players might have to navigate a box through a series of twisted corridors filled with bubble-popping acids or anti-bubble fields. Players might have to place boxes in such a way so as to activate pressure plates, or to allow Archie to gain momentum and leap from crate to crate. There really is no limit to the kind of puzzles this kind of mechanic allows, and the game takes advantage of this liberty in its sprawling amount of levels - more than 150, to be exact.
Even further in the game, Archibald gets to commandeer a special metallic sphere. The sphere can cling to metallic surfaces, and it comes with a large metallic arm which can grab onto faraway metallic platforms to cling to. This is on top of the already-established bubble-blowing gameplay. You'll be rolling along ceilings and floors, blowing bubbles to transport boxes and hit faraway switches, and just making a general mess of the professor's twisted, labyrinthine levels. It's a blast.
The game is jam-packed with content for such a minimal price, and the levels get taxing very early on; this lends itself to hours of head-scratching gameplay. Not to mention the levels where the player controls the professor himself (who mans a jetpack and can travel pretty much anywhere in a given level). In a great move, the developers have opened up almost every level from the get-go; in addition to a long campaign, there are bonus levels, extra chapters "just for fun" and enough post-campaign content to constitute a second campaign all its own.
The game comes with a few caveats. The game's pretty basic in its looks and aesthetics. I imagine that's intentional, but this is really sad, even for a PSP-Mini (whose game's graphics have never been held to much of a graphical standard anyway). The sprites in Archibald's Adventures are primitive at best, as are the 256-color backgrounds and enemies. It's not an unattractive game, but it's a very low-tech one, to the point of being potentially off-putting to potential players. The soundtrack is catchy, but it has the same difficulty as the graphics; the low-tech music sounds like it came from a 90's synthesizer. Sound effects are minimal and, as one could guess, there's no voiceover work.
As a big fan of puzzle games, I can't recommend Archibald's Adventures enough, based purely on its fun gameplay mechanics, heaps of content and charming old-school aesthetic. Sure, the game doesn't come with many bells or whistles, and there's no multiplayer. The graphics might be a bit too primitive for some, and the analog controls might bother players who want more precise movement of the character while he's on a skateboard or in the metallic sphere (Archibald tends to bounce off surfaces a lot, and it's hard for him to make a good, clean stop), but there's enough here to keep players occupied for quite a while.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/07/13
Game Release: Archibald's Adventures (US, 07/20/10)
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