Monday, May 28

Review: Fox N Forests [Nintendo Switch eShop]


A central component of many indie game releases has been a return to pixel graphics in classic 8-bit and 16-bit styles. Not only is doing this cost-effective, it also celebrates the amazing level of detail and beauty that were possible. A benefit is that modern systems can display graphics in this style but with more layering, enemies, and detail than were practical at the time so their full potential can also be realized. Where Fox N Forests takes things to the next level is in delivering a play experience that’s very reminiscent of the SNES and Genesis era, celebrating not just the classic look but feel as well, making it a great throwback experience across the board.


Charged with the Season Tree to collect seeds and restore the forest you’ll start out with a simple crossbow, a double-jump-and some basic slashing moves. In order to progress you’ll need to make your way through a variety of enemies as well as work out environmental puzzles that often require you to make use of your power to temporarily change the season. Depending on the stage and the alternative season for that level this will have a variety of effects from freezing the waters, to growing fruit and making leaves fall that you can use as platforms, and more. After you complete the 2 stages that accompany each season you’ll then face off against a boss that will test your skills and require you make use of your abilities as well to defeat them. With each boss defeated you’ll gain new enhancements to your crossbow, which will not only make you more formidable but also enable you to reveal hidden platforms and areas you weren’t able to access before.


Most of the game’s levels involve platforming, whether moving mostly horizontally or sometimes vertically (with a notable side-scrolling shooter level thrown in as well), needing to carefully avoid or dispatch enemies, keep an eye out for a variety of environmental tricks and traps, and search out signs of secret areas… something there’s an abundance of in the game. Most of these will have chests in them to allow you to gain some good you can use for upgrades but some have other objects that you’ll need to get certain more select equipment. By the time you’ve gotten into the third season or so you should be pretty well equipped and generally far more formidable than you were at the start, picking up a spinning attack off your double jump, a hard group stomp attack, and more. The progression is satisfying as levels you’d once had to be a bit more cautious in you’ll be far more confident making your way through, scouring for secrets you’d missed.


If there’s a criticism of the game the greatest one would likely be the somewhat mandatory repetition of levels you’ve visited before. While you won’t need all 5 hidden seeds in each level to progress (once you get all 5 in a season you unlock a special hidden level for each) you will need a certain number of seeds to unlock each season and at some point to get enough you’ll be forced to backtrack to reveal hidden areas you simply didn’t have the equipment to reveal before. For the most part the difficulty isn’t too overwhelming, and 3 skill levels are offered, but be aware that if some of your skills are lacking even on Easy there’s an expectation that you’ll be able to get through specific sequences and losing less health when you’re hit doesn’t make some sections any less difficulty if you struggle with certain types of platforming challenges.


Overall, Fox N Forests truly feels like a lost game from the the Early 90s that you could plug into your SNES and it would seem right at home on all levels. Of course for people who aren’t looking for that hit of nostalgia or are generally unfamiliar with that era this may not be a great fit. However, if you’ve been itching for something satisfies your sense of nostalgia and can dig in to the total experience it’s a welcome reminder of how beautiful pixel art games can be.

Score: 7.5

Pros:

  • Stunning 16-bit pixel art
  • It has the authentic “feel” of a game from that era
  • Some creative and challenging boss fights


Cons:

  • Grinding the same levels a few times can be tedious
  • While an Easy skill level is included the degree of change in overall difficulty was surprisingly minor in terms of skill-oriented sections
  • If you’re not feeling nostalgic much of the game’s charm will likely be wasted