09th Nov2018

‘Eternum Ex’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

eternum-ex-screen

A single-screen puzzle-platformer with a foot firmly in the 80’s, within a few seconds it’s clear to see where the inspiration for Eternum Ex comes from. Luckily, the high level of presentation and game play with arcade sensibilities make this game far more than a tip of the hat to its spiritual ancestors.

The story of Eternum Ex focuses on an elderly gent called Arthur who has outlived his love and, to him, his worth. Finding out about the possibility of the existence of an elixir of youth, he sets out on a final adventure to turn back the years of ageing…what could possibly go wrong?

Everything about Eternum Ex harks back to the golden age of arcade gaming. From the scrolling text that introduces the story (in a very CAPCOM-esque font) to the familiar musical notes that precede each level (Ghouls N Ghosts, anyone?), it’s clear that Eternum Ex is taking the reins over from various vintage classics and trundling nicely down the road.

The main game play takes the form of five worlds containing five levels each (the last of each section also includes a boss fight). On each level, you’ll need to collect the chests which are scattered around the stage, much as in in the game Bomb Jack. Of course, there are enemies in your way, trying to stop Arthur from succeeding, the little sausages. The enemies start off simply enough, rumbling out of the ground and walking blindly forwards along the platforms and falling through gaps, despatched easily with a swing from Arthur’s trusty staff (as in a wooden staff, not a Staffordshire Terrier) but these enemies quickly become more challenging as the levels progress with leaping, charging and flying enemies becoming the norm, this, combined with the environmental hazards (lava, spiked-traps, pits etc.) mean that only the first handful of stages are a doddle, then it’s time for our hero to seriously hitch up that itchy woollen cloak of his and start concentrating, even with the power-ups dotted around.

One touch is all it takes for Arthur to shuffle off his elderly (and yet surprisingly sprightly!) mortal coil. In the arcade mode, three lives is all you get and your score can be uploaded to an online leader board but in the more forgiving adventure mode, three continues are available and the game is saved after each world, giving a much fairer chance to reach the end of Arthur’s quest.

I really liked Eternum Ex, as a big fan of the games that it references, it felt like a long-lost sequel with its scan-lines, cheekily eerie music and simple, yet addictive and challenging game play. It tickled me when you could see Arthur’s flapping red boxer-shorts as he leapt around the levels in a nod to how his namesake would be reduced to his undies after a single hit in CAPCOM’s classic games. If you are a fan of arcade-style games and especially if you have fond memories of the games stated here, this really will be up your strasse. The dual modes available and worldwide scoring table add a frisson of variety to the proceedings as well. What Eternum Ex lacks in originality, it more than makes up for with its charm and accessibility, perfect for quick blasts on the move.

Right, I’m off to get into a fight, hopefully, after the first punch my clothes won’t all fly off.

Eternum Ex is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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