If you like platformers or hate yourself, you should heavily consider picking up 1001 Spikes, which is only $10 if you already own Cave Story+ or NightSky.  It’s an old-school platformer from your good friends over at Nicalis, most notable for producing Cave Story and Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, among others.

Also maybe this chair.

It’s the epitome of 8-bit platformers, with a perfect blend of “impossibly difficult” and “impossibly fun.”  Success depends on impeccable timing and perfect precision; just the sight of some of the later levels will cause you to crush your controller in a sweaty death-grip.  Fortunately, the controls are tight and intuitive, so the only things keeping you from victory are your unreliable thumbs and eyeballs.

I guess all these spikes don’t really help either.

After the game’s tutorial levels, it sets up the story for you.  The short version is that Aban’s father has left him a challenge to plumb the Ruins of Ukampa, which is full of treasure and also horrible traps.  He sets off for the ruins, and the real game begins. You jump over spikes, you dodge statues that shoot darts at you, there are flamethrowers to deal with, spinning blades to jump over, and somebody even left a bunch of angry scorpions lying around.

You deal with all of these obstacles with a high jump, a low jump, and throwing knives. The throwing knives are one of the trickiest parts of the game, since you often have to use them to destroy darts in mid-air when you can’t just jump over them.  The jumps are simple enough, but very situational:  Sometimes you can’t high jump without ramming into a set of spikes; sometimes you try a low jump to play it safe and run face-first into a dart.  One thing is for sure:  You will die.  A lot.

This pretty much sums it up.

But it’s more than just another “hard game.”  It isn’t filled with invisible obstacles or blocks that fall out of thin air, forcing you to restart dozens of time just so that you can find the next hidden trick. It forces you to restart dozens of time because the puzzles are well-designed and meant to test your wit and your reflexes. And on top of that, they beg to be speedrun.  You could just make your way slowly through the level, testing every block before you step on it, waiting for the perfect opportunity before every jump.  But each level is designed in a way that if you’re good enough, you can power your way through it at a breakneck pace, adrenaline pumping and palms sweating.

It is also a pretty hard game, though.

Overall, it’s a great game if you’re a fan of NES-style perfectionist platformers.  It’s got fun gameplay, great music, and a boatload of extras.  There’s something addicting about it that keeps me from putting it down, no matter how many times I fail a level.

On that note, If you’re prone to throwing your controller when you get angry, I recommend playing with a friend. Nothing makes me feel better than watching someone else run into the same stupid scorpion that I just did.

This is what evil looks like.

So pick it up, play it with a friend, and have a good time laughing at each others’ horrible deaths. You won’t regret it.

1001 Spikes Trailer

Here’s the gameplay trailer of 1001 Spikes, sans the opening cutscene.  Prepare your eyeballs.

Website: Nicalis

Twitter: @nicalis

Steam: 1001 Spikes

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