FOX n FORESTS (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 15.07.2018

Review for FOX n FORESTS on Nintendo Switch

Retro gaming is becoming more and more of an expensive hobby. Prices for original cartridges skyrocket, old hardware rejuvenated with HDMI mods, as well as professional gaming up-scalers are prohibitively expensive and yet the fascination for the old shows no sign of recession. Enter games not made 25 or 30 years ago, that do not require jumping through hoops to be properly enjoyed on modern TV sets and which do not cost an arm and a leg to purchase of off any of the favourite digital shops. The examples are aplenty and even old franchises have made comebacks on there where a full priced physical release would not have been viable, like Mega Man 9 and 10 to only name those. FOX n FORESTS on the Nintendo Switch eShop (and elsewhere), fits completely in that category of games trying to recapture that same old feeling without asking people to sell cars and houses to afford it.

The seasons in the forest have gone completely out of whack after pieces of magical bark have been taken from the Season Tree and Rick the Fox rises up to the challenge of collecting them all again from each boss villain so as to restore order to the hero's own native land for the good of all the living creatures in it. To achieve that goal, Rick is bestowed with the power to switch seasons at will, at the expense of some mana, leading to the main draw of what would otherwise be a fairly standard retro platformer. Switching to an alternative season in each level, which can be Winter in Summer or Autumn in Spring, or any other combination entirely dependent on the stage itself, really... can be likened to switching between the Light and Dark worlds in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past or Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. It is not an altogether fresh gimmick, but the spin thrown on this one and its use in a side-scrolling platformer does feel thoroughly fresh indeed and leads to some truly genius moments of light puzzle solving thrown into the action-platforming mix that does make the experience feel decidedly enticing indeed.

Rick is armed with a bow for shooting down distant foes and a sword used while ducking or aiming upward from a standing up position, as well as while jumping; however, one defining aspect of the game is its challenging nature. Indeed, enemies can be pretty tough to take out, especially early on with practically no enemies dying in one hit. None come to mind, anyway, after several hours of play. They also tend to re-spawn annoyingly quickly in the case of some of the smaller ones, aggravating things somewhat but, thankfully, each level is so unique in its design and even setting that it never feels completely like a forced walk and the lure of what next great idea may lie behind the next bend certainly manages to keep the game flowing nicely despite some light gameplay hurdles that take some getting used to. Indeed, Rick tends to feel a bit stiff with double jumps, sometimes just missing platforms if not timed right.

Screenshot for FOX n FORESTS on Nintendo Switch

Even hitting enemies can sometimes be tough to achieve with the basic weapons at disposal since shooting with the bow can only be done from a standing position and not in mid-air, making distant enemies that are not level with the fox an impossible task, even when those may be standing on a platform ahead that needs to be used to progress any further. Many games of the era to which this one pays homage suffered from similar problems, of course, so in that sense the card of nostalgia could be considered to be played well, but there are also better examples to imitate for sure, even back then. With that being said, however, playing this with a decent d-pad, such as that of the 8-Bitdo SN30 Pro controller truly makes it feel like playing a previously unreleased SNES game, if one can forget for a moment the presence of control sticks on said controller, of course. It's worth noting that the ZL and ZR triggers being required for switching seasons (and impossible to remap), the non-Pro flavours of said controller missing those inputs will not do the trick to best experience FOX n FORESTS but, really, the Joy-Con of the Switch lacking a proper d-pad and the official Pro Controller's d-pad being what it is means that to fully enjoy these retro style affairs, such alternative controls can't be recommended enough and this is not a shameless plug but just a sensible ascertainment of how things are on Nintendo's console in terms of controller options at time of writing.

Rick gains new moves by purchasing them from the in-game shops run by the same pigeon from the beginning. These, however, can prove quite pricey and sometimes even going back through previous stages for some extra collection of key items may not be enough to cover the expense of purchasing them. They are, however, useful, especially towards the end where random enemies spawn and their quick re-spawns can make it tough to not take any hits, or some enemies may prove quite challenging to even land a hit on without the necessary new ability.

Screenshot for FOX n FORESTS on Nintendo Switch

This leads to some minor gold farming that could have been done without, although it remains within the limits of what can be deemed "tolerable" to not become a complete chore. In addition to new moves purchasable, the tree will also reward the hero with new types of arrows after clearing each new region or "season" of the game. There are, as could be expected, four main seasons and, as such, four main areas to be played through, each containing two stages and one boss stage, making up the meat of the main game, with one bonus stage in each region, taking place in the "5th" season, opening up after collecting every single collectible in each stage in said region, making this title not the longest seen, but with compulsory back-tracking to pick up previously unreachable collectibles, FOX n FORESTS manages to last just the right amount of time to fully enjoy all that it has to offer without overstaying its welcome, providing enough content for the price and, thus, good value for money in the process.

Visually and audibly speaking, it's hard not to see in the art style, soundtrack, and even in the fonts and menu layout, a complete throwback to Capcom's 16-bit licensed Disney output and the Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse series, in particular. The samples used in the music tracks could almost be confused for being ripped straight from the first instalment of the aforementioned franchise. Of course, the game being widescreen and running on far more capable hardware, it's a given that every now and then the designers have pushed beyond what would have otherwise been possible on a stock SNES and, after all, even Capcom itself has admitted to have done the same thing for Mega Man 9 and 10 by doing some things that the NES wouldn't have been able to do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is a bit harder to swallow, though, that in certain circumstances the frame-rate can be seen dipping somewhat during fast-scrolling sequences, such as during long vertical drops.

Screenshot for FOX n FORESTS on Nintendo Switch

It's understandable that anything developed using Unity tends to not always be super optimised as seen recently with the gorgeous Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles and players will have to really dig deep to find some technical faults here as those are really not that common. For a game of that level of visual fidelity, it is a bit weird that it should still happen here. Some subtle scaling artefacts can be witnessed, as well when the screen is scrolling, like if the full screen resolution was not a perfect multiple of the native resolution at which the 16-bit style game is actually running behind the scenes. It's impossible to perceive 95% of the time but it may still show on some occasions and that makes it worth mentioning.

Overall, in pure technical terms, there is really nothing in its execution that takes away from the enjoyment that can be had within FOX n FORESTS. It is a gorgeous love-letter to the games of people's childhood (or admittedly pre-childhood, depending on who you ask) that just simply doesn't always feel like the best of its kind due to somewhat stiff controls, especially early on, long stages that can be a bit frustrating after repeated deaths sending the player back to the same checkpoint over and over again, as well as a distinct feel of necessary grinding at some points due to how the upgrade system works. In terms of progression, though, being forced to revisit previous stages with new arsenal opening up previously inaccessible chunks of stages to collect seeds so as to unlock additional areas in order to reach the ending, doesn't feel like a chore; on the contrary, as this added depth of exploration is the sort of thing that was far too often missing from old mascot-platformers of the mid-1990s where beating a stage usually meant they would never be enjoyed again without starting all over. In the case of FOX n FORESTS that would have been a shame considering how beautiful, original, and cleverly designed each stage is, yet admittedly with slightly fluctuating levels of awesomeness from one level to the next. Overall, though, it is still a recommended experience for fans of this style of game.

Screenshot for FOX n FORESTS on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The somewhat restrictive nature of the controls of FOX n FORESTS, coupled with the lengthy stages where death means sitting multiple times through the same section, keep it from being the glowing homage to the 16-bit era and the SNES, in particular, that its fantastic soundtrack and awesome graphical design would have otherwise allowed it to be. Nevertheless, what is on offer here is still well worth checking out, if only for one heck of a nostalgia trip to the first half of the 1990s.

Developer

Bonus Level Entertainment

Publisher

EuroVideo Medien

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Gabriel PVJ Jones

There are 1 members online at the moment.