A new Mega Drive game doesn’t happen every day, but there’s a surprising number of teams writing new code for retro hardware these days. Tanglewood is a charming looking little puzzle-platform adventure for the Sega Mega Drive (or the Genesis, if you’re American), released just today. Originally funded via Kickstarter, it can be played on real, original hardware if you’re willing to splash out for reproduction cartridges, but it’s much cheaper if you just want the digital PC release. There’s also a demo, available in both PC and emulator-friendly ROM format.
Tanglewood is a cute little game about a perpetually (and rightfully) worried looking fox-like critter named Nymn, just trying to survive on their way back home. Unfortunately, Nymn lives on a very hostile planet, and there’s massive boar-like beasties, burrowing sand-worm-things and plenty more predators wanting a nibble. Nymn isn’t much of a fighter, so the focus is on puzzles and evasion. It all reminds me a little bit of the Oddworld series, with perhaps a little dash of Dizzy. So long as it’s not too frustrating, it’s exciting to play a disempowered protagonist in peril.
I do especially like how Tanglewood leverages the Mega Drive’s limited colour palette. Night scenes are painted in dark blues and purples, while sunsets put additional colours into the background, casting everything else as stark silhouettes. It’s intentionally restricted pixel-art, of course, but it does it well. Hats off to developers, the sarcastically named Big Evil Corporation, for nailing the look of earlier-generation (and especially European) Mega Drive games.
Tanglewood is out now on Steam and Itch (where you can also find the demo) for £13/€15/$18. The official site is also taking orders for a second batch of boxed, physical cartridges, although they’re a bit steep at £54 each, and won’t be shipping until October.