Spud’s Quest – Review

developed by Chris Davis

I remember the days when games were less about distractions, smoke and mirrors, and slick next gen graphics, and were much more about engaging players through thoughtful gameplay and modest but charming low-res graphics… even if the game happened to be a somewhat challenging adventure / platformer experience.  I think the developer of Spud’s Adventure, Chris Davis, also remembers that era when games were fun simply because of the imagination that was involved in creating a game that many-a-gamer would now call a classic style of game, or simply retro.  The term retro comes up often nowadays, but I think it best describes that feeling that most of us gamers get when a sense of nostalgia engulfs us while playing through a game that shares that similar entertaining and fun feeling that we had while playing the games that were so enjoyable back when we were young.

Spud’s Quest does bring a lot of fond memories back and will be especially memorable to gamers who are old enough to remember such classics as The Fantastic Dizzy series of games, and even games like Metroid for the old NES.  In fact, Spud’s Quest shares a number of similarities with the Dizzy games but does more than enough to feel like it’s own unique world while paying tribute to such classics.  The gameplay and level design would feel right at home on an old computer or the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and SMS (Sega Master System).  It all feels as if it was crafted by a gamer for gamers, and that’s something that I truly appreciate in a game, no matter what type of game it is or the genre that it belongs to.

Spud’s Quest Starts off like many “save the helpless princess” stories do.  Thankfully, the story also has a sense of humour about it.  One day, Spud is woken up from a strange dream involving a desperate plea for help.  His wake-up call, a frog that has crashed through the roof of his house.  The frog turns out to be none other than Prince Charming, and he requests that Spud help change him back into his original charming, witty, and overly obnoxious old self.  Apparently, the prince was turned into a frog by an evil old wizard, and it’s up to Spud and his new found friend to set out and discover what his strange dream was all about, while also searching for the evil wizard and a means to break the curse that was placed on the young prince.  Perhaps these strange events are connected in some way.Gameplay:
The Dizzy series of games go back much further than some people might know.  I remember playing it originally on the old ZX Spectrum.  It was a charming and challenging game even back then, but more so for it’s awful controls which were due to the old Spectrum keypad more than anything else.  The NES version was far more enjoyable because of its great gamepad, more precise controls, and refined gameplay.  But, it was still a very challenging game that happened to be so charming that many gamers couldn’t help but keep playing, even if they found it too difficult and weren’t very good at it.

Spud’s Quest shares that charming, challenging, and responsive gameplay found in the old NES version of Dizzy.  It’s easy to lump Spud’s Quest into the Metroidvania category of games as well because you’ll be doing quite a bit of backtracking.  Gamers who haven’t played the classic Dizzy series of games should also be made aware that Spud’s Quest is equal parts Adventure and Platformer.  You’ll need to solve a number clever puzzles and problems on top of doing a bit of platforming if you plan on going far in this quest.What’s unique about Spud’s Quest is that you control two characters throughout the adventure: Spud, and the frog, Prince Charming.  Both handle pretty much the same but each have a couple of unique abilities.  Spud is the main problem solver and has a limited inventory that he can hold and use items with while also interacting with the crazy cast of characters found throughout the world.  The frog prince on the other hand, is the much smaller of the two and he has the ability to reach places and objects that Spud can’t quite get to.  The dynamic duo does share a few similarities with another classic game called The Lost Vikings in the way that you solve problems utilizing the two characters.  The tricky part of it all is that with Spud’s limited inventory space he can only carry 4 items which means that players will have to be careful when managing items or face the consequences of extra backtracking.

The controls in Spud’s Quest are very responsive whether you’re using a keyboard or a gamepad, but if you have the option then I definitely suggest you use a gamepad because it does feel as though this is the way the game was meant to be played.  You’ll be picking up items, chatting with characters, and switching between the two heroes easily due to the simple but intuitive control scheme.Graphics and Sound:
If you remember Fantastic Dizzy or any of the games in the series then you’ll immediately spot the influences in Spud’s Quest.  It’s bright, colorful, cartoony, and pixelated adventure, with charming sprite based characters and graphics that feel as though they were ripped right out of the late 80’s and early 90’s.  If you like retro games and retro graphics then you’ll love and appreciate the art style of Spud’s Quest.  What’s interesting is how well some of the graphical effects are implemented into this classically styled adventure.  Things like the background changing from night to day, changes in weather, and even the underwater effects, all stand out and give the game a very polished shine that couldn’t have been accomplished during the golden era of gaming.

The audio is great as well.  Upon starting the game up for the first time you’ll immediately notice that the music shares an 8-bit feel as well.  The tunes are quite catchy and they definitely capture the spirit of classic adventure and retro games.Conclusion:
If you were a fan of the Dizzy series games, you enjoy adventure and puzzle games, or you simply like metroidvania style gameplay, then you should definitely pick up Spud’s Quest immediately.  Completionists will be happy to know that there are plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered and competitive gamers will appreciate the worldwide online leaderboard, which is great for comparing scores while also adding extra replay value to the game.

If you get lost or frustrated easily then Spud’s Quest might not be for you as it is a more demanding experience, but it should be noted that it is also one of the more thoughtful retro inspired games available as well.  However, if you’re still on the fence about buying the game then I highly recommend you try out the playable demo which is available at the Spud’s Quest website.  It’s a charming game that is a lot of fun, and although it can be quite challenging at times, it does offer great gameplay, great control, and has a great sense of humour that should keep you coming back for more and until you reach the very end.

If you like what you see then be sure to also vote for Spud’s Quest on Steam Greenlight.

[   8   /   10   ]

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