Monday, July 2, 2018.
by Kirsten Naughton

FOX n FORESTS Box art I'm about to tell you a true story about gaming twenty five years ago. Not so long ago, there was no such thing as Playstation VR, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X, 4K TV's and E3 was only a couple years old. In 1993, Star Fox helped make 3D console games popular by releasing on the SNES. Games of yesteryear, well, the 1990's, really makes you think about how far we have come from an early 3D game like Star Fox to games like Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and Assassin's Creed Origin. It truly is amazing how technology has shaped the future of gaming.

So, why am I mentioning this? Well, it has to do with this review of Fox n Forests, a game that harkens back to the 16-bit era. I think that Bonus Level Entertainment and Independent Art Software did a fantastic job on game's retro feel and there are some pretty good aspects to the game making it worth buying.

I have to admit, I've only played a couple old school video games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros, but I remember spending hours on my Sega Genesis playing two Sonic games repeatedly and loving every single minute of it. My scope may be very small compared to a really seasoned gamer, but I can still appreciate the way video games were back then and the connection gamers may have with the not-so 3D video games. I know some folks cherish those kinds of memories.

If you already haven't guessed, Fox n Forests is about a fox (spoiler alert, I know...). His name is Rick and is the main character you'll be playing during your adventure. A great tree has lost its bark, and its Rick's job to recover it. I'm going to be honest here and say if you're looking for an in-depth story, it's unfortunately not here. I would say that gameplay is what you should really pay attention to, as it's the bulk of the experience. Although the controls are very basic, as so many 16-bit video games were in the past, it's easy for anyone to pick up, young or old.

Once you begin playing, it feels as if you're experiencing any of the 16-bit platformer games that were released in droves during the 1990's. Most of the gameplay is level based, so you have to explore forests and collect objects in each level. Whether or not you collect these items is based on how determined you are to collect them all. You may find yourself repeating the levels over again if you're the type that likes to collect every item, although you don't need to collect everything in the game, you should just know that if you don't collect certain items, you won't be able to progress through specific levels.

Gameplay is also about developing Rick's in-game abilities, so if you'd like him to acquire certain arrows that are essential to get to different parts of the levels you're exploring, you may want to invest some time in this ability, as it'll be helpful down the road in the game.

When I played the first level, something unique immediately caught my attention; Rick can change the seasons during gameplay. You heard me right, you are in control of fall, winter, summer and spring. Do you have a large stream you need to get across? Wait! Don't jump and think you're going to swim, cause you'll die. Do you know how you fix that? Turn the season into winter and freeze the stream and simply walk across the icy patch before turning the season back, as you only have a short time period before your 'season changing' meter runs out, though it will slowly build back up after a little bit of time.

Another example of how this gameplay element falls into play, you may find yourself facing a large, deep gap you have to cross before moving on in the level. If you change the season, something may fall from the sky that will aid you in crossing theis gap. I enjoyed changing the seasons because I've never played a game where I can manipulate my environment to advance in the level I'm playing on. I'd also like to point out for those who would like to know, you have to pay to get checkpoints, which, take it or leave it, as it's a part of the game you can't change, though an odd design decision.

In terms of the game's visuals, as you can see from the screenshots within this review, it is very 16-bit-like and the colors used are very vibrant, adding to the retro look and tone of the game. The sound is even 16-bit-like too, which adds to the whole retro experience. When you take everything into consideration for the presentation, it all really shows what a solid looking retro game this is.

I think that Fox n Forests is an excellent reminder of the good old days when games were simpler, times where we spent summers sitting on the couch playing games with our friends taking turns, beating the levels over and over again trying to beat each other's scores. While Fox n Forests isn't going to be remembered as one of the greats, it's definitely a game that even if the 16-bit platformer isn't your thing, you should give it a look.

Oh, and one last thing. I admit that the game isn't very long, but I don't feel like I wasted my time playing it. I hope that Bonus Level Entertainment and Independent Art Software consider making another game like this. I need to go now, as I want to collect more seeds and coins!

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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