Developed and Published By: Color Grave Categories: Platformer Release Date: 08.24.23
I’m about the right age to have some serious nostalgia for GameBoy Color games, right? I was a kid when I got mine, my first games being Wario Land 2 and Pokemon Blue. If I had to imagine, the developer for Curse Crackers may have had the same experience as me. A deep nostalgia for this clear purple console, it’s games, and it’s aesthetic. It’s going to sound shallow, but my first sight of Curse Crackers was what drew me in. Give me more 8 bit games that look like GameBoy Color or NeoGeo Pocket Color games! Thankfully, this isn’t a case where all of the attention went towards the graphics, this is a really fun game that if I had it as a kid, would most likely be permanently in my GameBoy.
Ok, so Wario Land. Now put Klonoa into it. And then maybe a bit of the hidden secrets you’d get in a Metroid game and the movement of Mario. Yes, this is a lot of buzzwords, but it’s probably the most accurate point of comparison I can make. And it does sound like a cluster, but it all just works together. The absolute first thing that came to mind was Klonoa however. In Curse Crackers, you control Belle, a bit of an acrobat you could say. With her is her little buddy Chime. Now, Chime is a bit multipurpose when it comes to being a friend. While he can grab coins, attack enemies, he can also be used as a boost to your platforming. It all just reminds me of how Klonoa uses his ring to capture enemies to do these same things.
Belle has a handful of ways the get through each stage. There is the previously mentioned Chime mechanics, but she also has plenty of movement to get through tricky spots. You’ll want to keep running, so what are you going to do when you see a long gap you’re not sure you can get across? Slide and do a long jump right over it. Too high of a jump and you need to go fast? Try the old Mario 2 trick of holding down and just jumping. Belle will do a spin jump that has some height to it. Try and combine it with Chime’s boosts sometime.
Also at your control is certain snacks you can buy or make when it’s offered. Usually these can offer you things otherwise out of reach. Chime floats up, some wings to fly, flames? If you take these back with you into levels you missed something, you’ll be rewarded quite nicely.
You can just run through stages, infact, you’re rewarded if you can get a good enough time, but you’re not gonna want to do that right away. There is so much to each of the levels in the game. The first and most obvious one is the roses you can collect. Three in each stage and most aren’t too hidden. Some levels have hidden blades, some have hidden tomes, some have people to rescue. Each level has three challenges to do as well. The aforementioned speedruns, a damage free (or hitting the goal from a distance), and a challenge to hit every target in a hidden room.
At no point did anything in the game feel frustrating to do, even those trickier challenges or speedrunning stages with bosses. Everything just felt good to do. The controls in Curse Crackers are just so good. Give it a hearty chef’s kiss. With how the game works, it’d immediately fall apart if it didn’t just meld together properly. Thank god this doesn’t have the good ol’ screencrunch some GameBoy games had.
Curse Crackers has a lot of lore. Like, an absurd of it. It starts with a bit of a lengthy cutscene explaining it all and it really is quite interesting. A Dragon, it’s scaled being spread out as it’s daughters. There’s people gifted with powers, and people who aren’t. The ones without them are looked down a bit, but that includes out lead Belle, who can do everything that everyone else can do with her acrobatics. But the big story is, her boyfriend was stolen. It’s time to get him back! Throughout the game you’re going to meet a lot of people too. Some are nice, some are just…plain rotten. But you’ll be seeing them again and again and even do some side quests for them or see them in shops. Be sure to talk to everyone often.
I already said how much I love the graphics, but how does the music fare? I hate to use the term “chiptunes” as a cover all, but this game has some great chiptunes. Not quite sure if any of them are ear worms yet, but we’ll see in time.
Imagine. A world without screen crunch, the crappy GameBoy speakers, needing to use external light to play the best of GameBoy. This is the kind of game Curse Crackers is. I adore this game and cannot wait to see what Color Grave does next.
*Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review