Everyone remembers classic adventure games like A Link to the Past and the Dizzy series of computer titles. Solving puzzles with a bit of action thrown in was the formula for such classic endeavors. Well, along comes Spud’s Quest. Recently Kickstarted, Spud’s Quest is homage to those classic titles all the way down to the mechanics and the complete look of the experience.
Players take on the role of Spud. One day while sleeping, a frantic frog crashes through Spud’s roof and begs him to help get to his mother and father. As it turns out, the frog is none other than Prince Charming. He was turned into a frog after he accidentally released an evil wizard from a chest he found in a cave, and now he needs Spud’s help to turn him back and stop the evil magician from causing more chaos.
Spud’s Quest plays out like any 2D side scrolling platformer would on the Super Nintendo. Players can run and jump to reach platforms as well as attack by throwing projectiles. There is another unique mechanic that comes into play with certain puzzles. The player can switch from controlling Spud to controlling Prince Charming. Since the prince is a frog, he can jump slightly higher and can squeeze into tighter corridors than Spud can. This usually has something to do with opening a certain door or flipping a switch that Spud cannot reach.
The game revolves around solving puzzles both by physical interactions and with items stored in his inventory. Spud can pick up certain items and store them for later use. So, a miner is missing some gems and is blocking the way down into a cave. Spud may have found a bag of gems earlier on and can give them to the miner. Now the path is open. There are multiple items that can solve numerous puzzles, sometimes creating this chain of events that solve one after another.
The beginning of the game is a bit slow. It mainly had me doing menial tasks and fetch quests in order to progress the story, but once the game opens up, it gets surprisingly deep. There are certain dungeons that must be completed in order to progress. This is where things really shine. It has a sense of Zelda where more enemies wander around and the puzzles are complex and tricky. Spud will also receive new abilities that can aid him in his quest by offering new ways to take on puzzles and reaching previously unreachable areas. He has a certain number of hit points but they can be increased by finding health upgrades. These are not the easiest to find, but are very rewarding when found.
Like the games of yesteryear, Spud’s Quest has a charming sprite-based 16-bit feel to it. Even the music is catchy and has a classic feel. It is colorful and enjoyable throughout the experience. What is also impressive is the day/night cycle. Certain people and events will only take place during specific times. Of course, the player doesn’t have to sit and wait. They can advance time by sleeping in any bed they find.
The writing has its moments of comedy and the overall presentation feels like a nice romp through a classic adventure with some pretty entertaining characters. I never felt like I wanted to skip dialog because it was weak or boring. It was just the right amount to keep me going.
There were a few problems I did have with the game. First, the save point system is totally fine, and I get what the developer is trying to do, but when I have made a ton of progress in a dungeon only to die and start back at the beginning where the last save I made was, it is rather devastating. Secondly, there are a limited number of inventory slots. When I find the actual item I need, I have to switch it with something already in there, then have to go use that item, run all the way back to where I dropped the previous item and pick it back up. The game doesn’t hold player’s hands either. There were times I had a full inventory, talked to everyone I needed to and still didn’t know what to use and where to use it. It can become time consuming and tedious.
It may take about an hour or so to ramp up, but when it does, Spud’s Quest becomes a rather fun and challenging experience. Sure, there are some quips with the game that got under my skin a few times, but I still find it impressive that only one guy developed this with money he generated through Kickstarter. Kudos to him. He’s made a charming, fun game, and for around eight bucks, you can relive some of that old classic game play.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.