09th Aug2019

‘Robbie Swifthand & the Orb of Mysteries’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

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A trial and error / purposefully tough platformer that manages to poke its head above the crowd due to having design features don’t alienate anyone with the only downside being some frame-rate issues which can be problematic in this genre, where so much is based on careful timing.

Two terms in the gaming world that I have trouble with are (to a lesser extent) ‘Retro Gamer’ and Hardcore Gamer’, the first because I am wary of nostalgia and find people who wallow in the past can sometimes be a bit tiring and the latter because it feels like an elitist club full of condescending fists. I have no issue with games that I personally may find bafflingly difficult or irritating because I can just avoid them and understand that each gamer has different tastes but what really sands my dog’s face off in front of a defrocked vicar is the knowledge that there are people that feel, if you don’t finish a game twice on the hardest settings that they are fundamentally better than you. It really makes my teeth turns into ancient totems that house the souls of my ancestral lineage. It was with these thoughts that I booted up Robbie Swifthand & the Orb of Mysteries, a retro-styled 2D platformer game for (as the developers themselves say) ‘Hardcore Gamers’ and was pleased to find that the game is actually really inviting and caters to a lot of play styles and skill levels as well as having a real sense of fun running throughout…as well as hundreds of sharp-object based deaths.

As the titular Robbie Swifthand, you awake in a Mayan-esque temple, guided by a floating pair of ethereal eyes that proclaim you to be the sole hope of humanity, of course, Robbie only cares about treasure and more pointedly, the putting of said treasure into his pockets, and so with a more solipsistic concern than his guide may have liked, he delves into the three chambers before him to find coinage as well as possibly saving us all, lovely lad that he is.

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A 2D platformer, Robbie Swifthand is controlled mostly by a few simple buttons with your only actions at the very start of the game being; running, ducking, jumping and a boost-jump. Whilst these are very basic manoeuvres, the single-stage level design gives them surprisingly variety as you collect orbs to smash portals and reach the end of each micro-stage, learning all the while to avoid pits, spikes and falling blocks whenever possible.

There are three difficulty stages, an easier mode, hard and extreme mode, all of which contain the same levels but cleverly add more dangers in each one. I also really liked how each of the three chambers has multiple paths so if you hit a wall in one run, you can try a different approach to the end goal through another branching path. There is a real sense of humour here as well, from Robbie gasping for breath after a particularly sprightly section of a level to the spirit that guides you getting distracted by old technology and Robbie’s eyeballs rolling towards a trap that was a little too close for comfort.

Robbie Swifthand & the Orb of Mysteries is a solid and surprisingly accessible platform romp with a cartoonish visual style and approach that sucked me in. The only real downside are the aforementioned frame rate issues which I must admit do detract from the game, especially in later levels where precision is absolutely key, here’s hoping that it is something that can be ‘Swifthandedly’ patched up.

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Right, I’m off to save the word… As long as they pay me, natch.

Robbie Swifthand & the Orb of Mysteries is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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