Back in 2016, an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign was run by Matt Phillips to create a brand-new Sega Megadrive/Genesis game called Tanglewood. This week that game got its official release on Steam and soon those that pledged for a physical retro version of that game will be getting their copies. In the meantime we were sent a rather lovely press copy of the game to review.
To start my review I want to draw your attention to the fact this game is coded in 68000 assembly language using original Sega development tools. To you and I that’s as authentic as it gets! Apparently there are some graphical issues with this press cart release when playing the game on an HD screen. Thankfully I never experienced any problems as I’m using a proper retro setup with my trusted old CRT television.
Essentially, Tanglewood is a platformer with lots of puzzle elements in which you control a cute little fox called Nymn. Set in the mysterious forest of Tanglewood, defenseless and lost, your task is to escape the woods avoiding creatures hunting you down and garnering help from some more friendly critters along your way called Fuzzls. Rescuing one, by leading it back to its nest, will reward you with a special power up that gives you the ability to fly or even ride the back of some larger creatures. On top of this, and as a rather nice touch, Nymn changes colour depending on the power up you’re rewarded with.
It’s not easy to compare this game with any other platformer I’ve ever played since it’s not trying to be Sonic or Mario, something that is itself quite pleasing. This game is very much made up of many original ideas, blending lots of puzzles throughout, most of which are easy to work out. There is nothing worst than a game filled with incredibly hard puzzles, so Matt seems to have gotten these right, certainly for my skill level at least. You will have moments of frustration as you will find you die often and sometimes very easily; however, your patience will be rewarded as you start to feel your way into the game. Add that the advantage of a checkpoint system being used and, just for a nice touch, the inclusion of those passwords to save your progress.
So, overall, this is a game worthy of your collection. The above screenshots don’t really do the game justice as the animation is simply stunning and the wonderful parallax scrolling just leaves you breathless. One gripe would be the lack of real music throughout the game, which I assume was done to help set the tone and suspense of the game. When I think about it, the lack of music really does work. The controls are responsive and work well. I’m in no doubt that should this game have been released back in the day, it would have been greeted with high scores in magazines like Mean Machine. For me you essentially have to give extra credit to Matt for creating this game more or less on his own.
You can visit HERE to pre-order you copy of the next batch if your not already on the list.
I can only mark this game down for the music, maybe that’s a bad move on my part but don’t let that put you off buying this game, gameplay and graphically this is one of the finest gaming experiences your likely to get.