Foxyland 2 review for PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS Vita
Also on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: BUG Studio
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

A couple of months ago, I was made aware of the existence of Foxyland, a retro-influenced platformer that didn’t do anything particularly well or noticeably badly. I played it, I platinumed it, and I promptly deleted it. It was fine for what it was.

The good news about Foxyland 2 is that I have slightly stronger feelings about it. The bad news is that all of those feelings are negative. The developers didn’t make too many changes from the first game, and yet, remarkably, it feels like every single change they did make was for the worse. It’s just a series of bad design decisions, made over and over and over.

The first and most obvious of these is that Foxyland gets rid of the hearts you get in each level, and replaced them with one-hit deaths. As you can imagine, this ups the challenge significantly: partly because of some other design choices I’ll get to shortly, partly because some of the enemies here are much more aggressive than they were last time out, and partly because the hit detection is all wonky. You never can tell when the game is going to decide that you’ve actually touched a spike or been hit by block that looks suspiciously like Thwomp, and knock off one of your very limited number of lives.

(Note: I can’t remember if there were lives in Foxyland, so I’m not going to complain about their prominence here. I will say, however, that even if they were present last time out, the limited number is much more noticeable in Foxyland 2 because of all the crappy design choices this game makes that lead to so many more cheap deaths.)

Not only are the enemies more aggressive, killing them is a lot harder. While you can avoid the lousy hit detection by throwing cherries at the bad guys, one cherry seldom does the trick, and Foxyland 2 is absurdly stingy with giving out new ones. Combine that with the game not allowing you to line up shots from a distance very easily, and you can see why everything about fighting enemies here is a huge frustration.

Another part of Foxyland 2’s challenge is that you automatically start climbing up ladders if you get close to them. This may not sound like a big problem, but it is when, say, they’re attached to a series of platforms, and you have to make more precise jumps. It’s much harder to judge your jumps off a ladder than it is to judge jumps from a flat surface, and given how stingy the game is with its deaths, it’s another needless annoyance that wasn’t present last time out.

Similarly, Foxyland 2 makes scaling and sliding down walls an enormous pain. Like most platformers, you occasionally jump from side to side in order to reach higher areas. Unlike most platformers, however, here you automatically push away, and even if you’re right on the ledge of the area you’re going to, you’ll push off into nothingness. You can’t double-jump up to where you want to go, and, again, it leads to all kinds of needless, annoying deaths.

I have no doubt that I’m putting way too much thought into a lousy sequel to a cheap platformer that came and went without any fanfare. But the low profile doesn’t make it any more infuriating. Foxyland may not have been a great game, but it was a fine way to pass an hour or two. Foxyland 2 isn’t even that: it’s just a bad game that constantly makes bad choices, and it’s absolutely worth avoiding.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Foxyland 2 PS4/Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: D