My PC doesn’t get used for gaming very often, so often I’m late to the indie game party. Such was the case with 1001 Spikes. But, thank goodness, publisher Nicilas saw fit to bring this game to a host of other platforms [3ds, wiiU, vita, ps4, et.al.]. I picked it up for Vita as I have been enjoying that system quite a bit lately despite the shortage of A+ software I care about. It looks great on the Vita display but, unfortunately, is missing the multiplayer features of its console cousins.
Regardless, it’s an amazing game for all those who love 8-bit era platformers. At first glance it reminded me of Spelunker, but all it really has in common is a similar setting and a crushing difficulty. But in the case of 1001 Spikes, that difficulty isn’t the result of wonky controls and unintelligible design. It’s that delicious variety of hard that seems just short of possible but increasingly within reach after each attempt. The game pulls no punches, but the short levels and ability to skip over areas and attempt them later kept me from every giving up in frustration.
A world map tracks your progress, or lack thereof. I desperately wanted to reach the end of the game as soon as possible to see what might lie in store; but, as I saw my journey reaching an end I was sad because I knew that whatever waited there, the best was behind me. I arrived. I saw. I conquered. But just when I was starting to get my dick all hard for being a winner-take-all explorer, 1001 spikes dropped a bomb that shriveled my shrimp: Antarctica.
YEP. The additional end game content, “Antarctica” is so expansive it’s like a second game. So despite my best efforts, I’m stuck just short of my frozen goal in the dreaded wasteland of Vostok, i.e. 10-4.
1001 Spikes is a great game. It’s not reinventing anything, but it does its thing with such intense aplomb that it stands clearly apart in an ocean of retro-throwback fish. The sheer difficulty may put some people off, but that really is part of the appeal. It scratches the same itch for me as some of my other favorite ball-busters: Gimmick; ActRaiser 2; Ghosts n’ Goblins; Contra Hard Corps and so on. These games don’t lead you by the hand for long and ask a lot of the player, but it makes for the invigorating gaming.
So I’m not giving up yet. After 100+ deaths in Vostok I have to take a breather, but I intent to grab a winter coat or two and hit the ice again soon.