Wonder Boy-inspired metroid’y platformer Aggelos is out

Aggelos

Typical, really; you wait decades for a Wonder Boy revival, and three turn up at the same time. Aggelos is the second in a trio of games from different studios heavily inspired by (or just plain remaking) entries from the Master System/Mega Drive cult hits Wonder Boy and Monster World. While Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap was a pure remake, and the upcoming Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom looks to build on the later games in the series, Aggelos is shooting for charming old-school aesthetics paired with modern Metroidvania level design. It’s also out today.

I got to play a bit of Aggelos in one of the big indie rooms at Rezzed earlier this year, and found the whole thing oddly comforting to play. It is almost old-school to a fault. Almost. As with Shovel Knight before it, the game bypasses many of the real restrictions of late 8-bit/early 16-bit game design with its perfectly smooth scrolling, widescreen playfield and deliciously chunky monster and boss sprites. While the game opens with some easy mazes and enemies, complexity builds up quickly as you collect a range of fun Metroid’y powers that greatly expand your movement options.

If there is one complaint I had to level at the game from what I played at Rezzed, it’s the soundtrack. It’s not bad, by any means, but it doesn’t stand out from the music of its era. You carefully listen to the music from the likes of Shovel Knight and you’ll hear complex compositions and synth instrumentation that wouldn’t be possible on any real 8-bit audio chip, despite maintaining the aesthetic. Aggelos just sounds authentically retro, which, while nostalgic, doesn’t quite make for toe-tapping fun.

That aside, there is something to be said for the old Wonder Boy format of exploration, shopping, upgrading and fighting. A lot of it hinges on how cute the monsters are, or so I reckon. While a handful of creature types have distinctly angry eyes (usually the bosses), most of the less deadly opponents look adorably blank. Vacant cartoon stares on display as they meander around. Even when you’re being attacked and your health is running low, it makes the world feel just that little bit softer.

Aggelos is out now on Steam for £11.39/$12, minus a 20% launch discount.

12 Comments

  1. DrJ3RK says:

    This one looks a little more my style over the Dragon’s Curse/Trap remake. I think I’m going to give it a whirl. The combat looks like some kind of combination of a Wonderboy game and Actraiser for the SNES. I like the look of the items and abilities too. It definitely has a Wonderboy look to it though.

  2. Bloodoflamb says:

    That dragon reminded me of Chuck Rock.

  3. Tony M says:

    3 remakes. Where is my skateboard?

  4. SBLux says:

    Those lovely colourful graphics warm my heart.

  5. Catterbatter says:

    I… actually really like the way this sounds, going only by the trailer. The only thing that makes me itch a little is that the sfx and music are way back in 8-bit land, while visually it’s improved-16-bit. Maybe that’s just me? Anyway, I like the music a lot and will probably not be able to resist picking this up and playing the heck out of it.

  6. DrJ3RK says:

    I picked it up yesterday, and it’s absolutely delightful. It improves on the old games in the one way I always thought they were deficient, and that’s the movement and jump arcs. This game feels really good. The music is great, and while I agree that it’s no Shovel Knight in that department, it’s more than serviceable, and adds to the game more than it could detract. The story is pure Wonderboy type material, but the exploration feels (yes a bit like a MetVan, but maybe a bit more on the side of Wizards and Warriors on the NES) It’s got some funny touches too, like thieving monkeys. :D

    There is only one issue that I have, and the dev says they’re working on it. On a gamepad, only the analog stick currently works for directional control. They’re working on sorting out the DPad now, so that should be in soon it sounds like. I don’t like playing this sort of game with an analog stick, however, even with that little annoyance, the control and movement are very nice.

    It’s also on sale right now (or at least it was yesterday).

    • anon459 says:

      Oh that’s… strange. Platformers are ideally played with a d-pad after all. Xpadder should fix that right up in a jiffy though.

      • DrJ3RK says:

        I’m guessing it would :) I think the Steam forums have mentioned that or Joy2Key as a temporary workaround. I didn’t find it all that hard to adapt with this game in particular though until they get that fixed. There are other games that had this issue before though that I just stopped playing until that was fixed, because I just couldn’t move accurately enough. The pace of this game though is just mellow enough for the analog stick to work just good enough though. It sounds like this is the first thing they’re working on though.

        I managed to get through the first proper quest last night though, (first element piece) and it was transparent enough after a little bit.

  7. anon459 says:

    That upward strike combined with the downward stabby bounce look like they make a very satisfying combo. I’ll have to try this out.

  8. Titler says:

    The problem with the sound is that it’s using an NES chip style, rather than the Sega Master Systems own; compare it to the original Wonderboy 3 soundtrack and you’ll see what I mean.

  9. DrJ3RK says:

    While you’re correct, the music is more akin to NES music, I think that’s a good thing. I mean, if you owned a Master System, and were specifically looking for a full nostalgia trip, then may not, but the NES sound system is actually quite a bit better (unless you were lucky enough to have a Master System model that had the YM2413 FM chip in it. (We in the US did not get this model unfortunately, and were doomed to horribly thin sounding square waves and pseudo-white noise). I’d definitely take this NES style music over that any time.

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