Fox n Forests
FOX n FORESTS is a 2D action platformer with RPG elements inspired by the glorious days of 16-bit! Switch between various seasons on the fly, shoot and slash with your magic melee crossbow and snatch valuable loot to unveil the mystery of the 5th seasons. A thrilling pixel art fable with rewarding super secrets, screen filling bosses and thriving exploration. This is 16-bit how you remember it!
Switch between various seasons to explore new areas, outfox enemies and uncover amazing secrets.
-MAGIC MELEE CROSSBOW!
Wield a weapon like no other to shoot, slash, slide and switch seasons.
Help Rick the Fox uncover the mystery of the 5th season and bring back justice to the forests and its inhabitants.
16-bit how you remember it with gorgeous pixel art and a catchy chiptunes soundtrack.
A thrilling adventure with engaging RPG elements, clever puzzles and pixel perfect platforming.
OS: Windows 7
Processor: 2 GHZ
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 630 or AMD Radeon HD 5570
Storage: 700 MB available space
May 17, 2018
PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Bonus Level Entertainment
Publisher: Eurovideo Medien
Rating: E for Everyone 10+
From Munich, Germany comes a game that is a love letter to the old 16-bit adventures of the past. Bonus Level Entertainment is made up of experienced developers who have worked on game franchises such as Saint’s Row and Dead Island. They began Fox n Forests as a kickstarter which gained full sponsorship (and then some) in 2016. From there, Steam gave it the greenlight and worked with them to get the game on PC. With so much talent and effort put into this game, is it good enough to be a callback to the 90’s? Or does this fox fall flat on his face?
Violence: Fox n Forests was created with 16-bit graphics, so everything has a bit of a blur to it. You are a brave fox that takes up a magic crossbow and can shoot arrows at enemies. Once shot, enemies disappear in a colorful disintegration. When the fox takes too many hits, he simply falls down and seems to faint, signaling that he has been defeated. There is no blood or gore in this game.
Spiritual Themes: Magic and Spirits are quite present in this game. Magic can be used to shoot more arrows or you can use magic potions against your enemies to create explosions, thunderstorms, or even summon otherworldly spirits. There is a level in the game that tasks Rick the fox to jump and maneuver through a graveyard. The level is very reminiscent of Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts because during the entire level, ghoul-like enemies attack you. Phantoms, demons, and other wraiths all appear in the level. While it may not be off-putting for some, the level can come across as spooky and freaky. But the level has a playful nature and the enemies are treated like any other enemies in the game; shoot them and they disintegrate. The game is fanciful by nature and takes place in an imaginative world. These ghouls and ghosts should be seen within that context.
What was it about these games that were so fun and addicting back in the Super Nintendo age? Was it the difficult and near impossible platforming? Or maybe it was the variety of enemies and weapons? Or was it the catchy chiptunes that we hummed along to as we traversed the bitscape? Fox n Forests is indeed a game reminiscent of these times and feels exactly like a game on the SNES or Sega Genesis. It’s copycat dynamics and gameplay takes me back to the days I played the popular Disney platformer Aladdin. Shooting arrows and avoiding enemies reminds me of throwing lances and jumping over obstacles in Super Ghouls n Ghosts. It’s surprising how well Fox n Forests copied that style.
The game’s story is quite simple. Rick the fox wants to chomp down on a bird, but is instead tasked by the Season Tree with saving the forest and stopping the mysterious fifth season from happening. He’s given the Magic Crossbow which has the power to change seasons at his command. Guide Rick through five “seasons” as he makes his way through the magical forest and gathers magic bark from powerful foes.
It’s a story that does not really have any continuity or clarity until you reach the very end, and that’s okay. That’s how older games were as well. Stories aren’t always needed for a platformer to be great. The fact that Fox n Forests even attempts a story is fantastic because it adds some sort of intrigue and drive to make it to the end. The game is also saturated with puns and jokes throughout the story, which are minor chuckles at best, but at least there’s a bit of cleverness to it. The playful banter between the fox and the bird is entertaining and makes you wonder if the fox really does get his poultry prize at the end.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and if that is true, then Fox n Forests is a love letter to its predecessors. It is a clone, but so well done that it is hard to tell it from an original. If I was to play Fox n Forests back in the 1990’s, I would not be able to tell you if it was made then or now. The developers seemed to have not only captured the graphics and gameplay, but the very spirit of said games. The old SNES and Sega platformers had this cheesy, challenging, puzzle-ridden, enemy-laded, addictive feel that is hard to explain without playing the games yourself. It’s more something you have to experience.
The gameplay is especially representative of this. In the game, you can buy upgrades for your life, magic, and crossbow to access more attacks and become more effective against enemies. You can also buy potions that each have a different attack. One potion I used has the ability to create lightning strikes around you. Your crossbow can also use magic by shooting magical arrows. Green arrows are tri-shooting projectiles and red arrows shoot fire. There are other attacks as well, such as a crouching slash, an upward slash, a jumping slash, and a double-jumping flip slash. All of these are effective and almost all these attacks will end up being used in every level.
Graphics are every bit of 16-bit goodness. Environments range from a lush river and pastures area to a forest on fire. Enemies are as detailed as can be and still look good. One level has a beautiful sunset in the background. How they managed to make a 16-bit sunset look gorgeous is beyond me. Bosses are menacing and you can tell that they put a lot of time into the designs for each and every level, character, and enemy.
Fox n Forests also has great level diversity and keeps it fresh. It switches things around by featuring different types of platforming. For example, one level will be just a normal level with puzzles and things to collect whereas the next level will be a side-scrolling shooting and flying level, much like the old SNES SHMUP. Boss battles are tricky, but they all have a weakness, which can usually be found out during your first bout with the boss. It will usually require Rick to change the seasons, another great gameplay dynamic.
One of the biggest dynamics in the game is the ability to switch between seasons. Each level has a main season, but you can switch to the alternative season mid-level, allowing for passageways to be opened, enemies to change, and puzzles to be solved. In the level “Revolving River,” the level starts off in spring, but you can switch to winter, freezing moving water solid and allowing for safe crossing. It is also used in other levels in even more clever ways and it adds a lot to the puzzle-solving aspect of the game.
The music in the game is phenomenal and brings you into a deep nostalgia. It’s all chiptunes and sounds exactly like the SNES tracks. From somber and cool tones for a beautiful background, to creepy moods for the graveyard, the music is very fitting for the game. For a full track list that you can listen to—and support the composer—you can find all the songs right here. You can listen to all of them for free! Be sure to check it out. My personal favorite is “Gorgeous Gorge.”
I have few qualms with Fox n Forests since it is very well done. One thing that is annoying though is the fact that it is a bit of a “collectathon.” Actually, you cannot move onto other levels without first collecting a certain amount of magical seeds. So, yes, that means you will have to return to levels to find these seeds. Another thing is the length of the game. For being twenty dollars, it is a relatively short game. It makes me want to see more!
In the end, Fox n Forests is a great nostalgic ride through the games of the early 90’s and will bring back a lot of fun memories of games like Aladdin and Super Ghouls n Ghosts. At the price of twenty dollars, despite its shortness, it’s well worth the money to be able to experience such a great callback. The only problem I can see is that it will have little appeal to young and modern gamers, as its style is dated. It will truly only appeal to gamers 25 years old and older. Hopefully it will get the spotlight it well deserves.
Review code generously provided by Stride PR.
+ Challenging Puzzles
+ Beautiful environments
+ Memorable soundtrack
+ Nostalgic 16-bit gameplay
+ Can upgrade weapons and abilities
- A bit short
- Forces player to collect objects in order to continue with story