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Alfonzo’s Arctic Adventure review for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Limited Run Games
Developer: Spoony Bard Productions
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: No
ESRB: E

Earlier this year, I reviewed a phenomenal retro-tinged platformer called Kaze and the Wild Masks. I loved it because it didn’t just imitate 2D platformer classics, it also captured what made them so memorable. Like games like Sonic and Mario, it was tough but fair, and it brimmed with ideas and personality.

Alfonzo’s Arctic Adventure also evokes NES/SNES-era platformers, but in the exact opposite way of what’s described above. Basically, it copies all the things about those games that should have stayed in the past, and doesn’t add anything new or interesting or inventive on top of them.

It practically goes without saying, of course, but Alfonzo’s Arctic Adventure is incredibly difficult. The levels may be short, but it still tries its best to make them as challenging as possible, with everything from gaps that require impeccably- (and often impossibly) timed jumps, to infuriating hit detection, to unclear controls and explanations, to wildly unfair boss fights where a single hit kills you as you slowly try to whittle away the boss’ health bar.

There’s the awful reliance on passwords in place of a proper save system. At least back in the day it made some sense, since those systems didn’t have hard drives to save your games, but here, it’s just obnoxious.

There are long-ish dialogue sequences that can’t be skipped. In fact, you can’t even speed up the dialogue, so you have to wait as it slowly goes back and forth.

In Alfonzo’s Arctic Adventure’s defence, all of this is by design. The game, after all, pitched itself on Kickstarter as a NES game, and that’s exactly what they delivered. Unfortunately, in the process they seem to have copied one of the many forgettable games that graced that system, rather than one worth imitating. If this were 35 years ago, that may have worked, but in 2021, there’s really no reason to pick it up.

Limited Run Games provided us with an Alfonzo’s Arctic Adventure Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-