We’ve recently seen platform games re-emerging in the App Stores with titles such as Cavorite, Cordy and Roboto doing extremely well in the popularity section. That’s because people always have and always will love a good retro-styled platform game. And that is exactly what Emberwind by Timetrap is.
Published by Chillingo, this adaptation of the classic PC platform game brings the retro styled Amiga-like action to the iPhone.
Set in a beautifully rendered fantasy world, Emberwind finds you playing the role of the gnome watchman Kindle Elderwood, on a quest to defeat the invading gremlin armies of the evil CandleFinger. Together with beautiful graphics, reminiscent of the classic platform games that we grew up with, the sound effects and ambiance music create a powerful atmosphere that draws you into the game.
Like every Amiga-style platformer, the controls are very simple to understand and pick up. You’ve got the joystick simulator on the left side of the screen for movement, and on the right side the attack and jump buttons. There is also a special button that will allow you to throw acorns into a wishing well, activate secrets, cause fireplaces to explode, etc.
Kindle will be walking/running/barrel rolling around from platform to platform, beating gremlins into the ground either from up close with his cane, or from a distance, assuming you’ve picked up a fairy. Different fairies give your cane different ranged abilities, either throwing fireballs, energy balls, bolts that cause enemies to float helplessly in the air, etc.
You have a set amount of health, in the form of red dots in the bottom left corner of the screen. Each hit takes out a dot, and when you reach zero, you’ve died. It’s not game over however, as each level is riddled with checkpoints that you can activate as you pass them (streetlamps). There are a few combos, such as the barrel roll that will smash everything in its path sonic the hedgehog style, the hide in plain sight combo, and the rocket ability that allows you to reach far away spots.
Each level requires you to free a number of houses from the gremlin infestation, however you’re not forced to stop once you’ve achieved this number of houses, being allowed to finish the level entirely. As you run along, you’ll pick up acorns which allow you to perform certain actions (such as throwing them into wishing wells) as well as coins, diamonds, etc. that pop out of enemies bodies after you’ve thoroughly bonked them. Collecting these will allow you to level up, giving you more health.
The campaign is quite long, and although you will occasionally run into special situations such as flying levels where you have to rely on your trusty giant white owl Wick, boss battles, and the awesome last castle levels. However, over all, the game play is kind of well…boring. After a while, the head bonking, jumping action gets repetitive and you may not have the actual patience to finish the game (which is a shame given how cool the last levels are).
Another problem with the game is that currently, the buttons are extremely small. I initially thought it was just me, but after checking the comments on the game’s iTunes page I quickly found that several others had the same concern. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t make the game unplayable, it’s just less than comfortable, and they can cause a few annoying unintentional falls off of platforms.
Over all, Emberwind had me hooked. I’m a sucker for platform games and even more so a sucker for fantasy games, and this adaptation of the classic game simply made my day. The characters, the graphics, the sounds, and even the dialogue create an immersive experience that I just absolutely loved. I would recommend this game for all platform fans, as well as fantasy game fans.