Micro Mages for the Nintendo Entertainment System, developed by Morphat Games, is an upward vertical scrolling platform game that sees you take on the role of a Mage who has just teleported himself across to the Old Demon Fortress in order to save the Princess from her evil captor.
The fortress is the home of great treasure, ghastly creatures and deadly traps and you will have to battle your way up the its towers and battle the evil bosses lurking at the top in order to complete your objective.
There are 4 towers that you will have to overcome:
- The Haunted Dungeon – an old lost tower where prisoners die in silence;
- Valhalla Tower – where Goblins are building a structure leading up to Valhalla;
- The Jungle Temple – built inside a dormant volcano and ruled by the Prince of Darkness; and finally
- The final tower is the somewhat mysterious headquarters of the evil force that has entrapped your princess.
The main mechanics within Micro Mages is shooting magic spells at enemies and using wall jumps to climb to the top of each tower. The wall jump action is quite easy to pull off as the game controls are responsive and you feel like you have good control of your character at all times.
Micro Mages offers a good number of enemies throughout the game ensuring that the game never feels dull Initially, the enemies will only need one hit to eliminate but as you progress to the later towers, you will find enemies that require multiple hits.
To assist you with your princess saving task, you can shoot open crates and treasure chests to find a Fairy (that will give you a one hit shield) or a seagull feather that allows you to hover in the air a bit longer when you are jumping.
You start off the game with three lives. Killing enemies and collecting jewels will allow you to accumulate points with an extra life being awarded for every 16,000 points you collect.
Micro Mages features mid-level checkpoints which are really handy as each level is somewhat long and having to restart from the beginning would detract from the game substantially. The game also features a password level system to allow you to continue your game from the last completed tower.
When you reach the top of each of the Towers then its Boss Battle time. While not being easy to defeat, none of them are necessarily to difficult to overcome once you understand their attack patterns. I think the difficulty balance is spot on, in fact the difficulty balance throughout the whole game is perfect in my view.
Micro Mages allows for up to 4 player action. The multi-player mode has been implemented very well. As long as at least one player is alive, you won’t lose a life. Dead players turn into ghosts and have the ability to help their comrades by freezing enemies. They can also destroy crates and treasure chests in the hope of finding a Fairy or Magic Seagull Feather that will bring them back to life.
Once you have completed all four towers, you are then given the opportunity to go through the game at a harder level.
The overall production values on Micro Mages are very high. The graphics look great. They are vibrant, detailed and everything moves so well. The soundtrack on offer is of quality and fits the game perfectly. The level design has been well thought out to provide an engaging challenge that is both balanced and interesting for the whole game. It really is a well produced game.
A video version of this review is available from the link below:
Originally made available via a Kickstarter campaign last year, Micro Mages is now available as a digital download via Itch.Io and Steam, while the physcial edition of the game will become available again in July 2019 from the Broke Studio.
High productions matched with engaging and well balanced game play gives life to the tiring platform genre
Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum games. Runs the Retro Gamer Nation YouTube channel and is a contributor to RVG and Vintage is the New Old blog sites, Komoda & Amiga Plus magazine and various other publications.