Thursday, October 10, 2013

Undiscovered App #42: Rico - Castlevania Meets Mario Brothers

Rico - A Tale of Two Brothers
This is the tale of two brothers. The older brother - black as the night - was called Rico. The younger brother - white as snow - was nameless. 

Since the beginning of time, they were fighting each other. They were worthy adversaries, and their clashes always ended in a tie. Both brothers drew their powers from golden crystals which were scattered all across the world. Little did they know, their constant battle was the sole reason the world remained in balance.

One day, for reasons unknown, Rico finally surpassed his younger brother. While he didn't kill him, he stripped him of his powers, abandoning him to his fate. For he should live to watch Rico rule the world henceforth. The world's faith tipped and fell out of balance, and would soon perish if nothing was done.

This is the story of the unnamed brother on his quest to get his powers back and restore the balance of the world.

And that's how the story begins for today's Undiscovered App, called Rico by Maximilian Csuk. In its simplest form, it can probably be best described as the result of putting together the gameplay and look of Super Mario Brothers and Castlevania. Explore, gather crystals, get power ups, avoid obstacles and traps while trying to reach the end of each mini-world stage, with each mini stage getting you closer to the big battle with your darker half, all set in a 2D platform and a retro pixelated wrapper.

Rico screen shots

It's the execution, finesse, and attention to detail that made Rico stand out so much. You can run, jump, swim (you have an oxygen timer), and even fly (don't land too hard because the physical impact could kill you). All while enjoying a cool music soundtrack. The controls were perfect and responsive, and adapted to the type of movement you were performing. For example, acceleration and deceleration physics came into play when you're flying.

The game allowed you to set the difficulty level appropriate to your preferred challenge/patience level. Easy, Medium, Hard, and Insane allows you to basically tune the following factors: the number of lives, fall damage, hit points, and the frequency with which checkpoints appear.

I went Old School and chose Hard, then promptly forgot the setting I had used, and after a few runs at it, getting blown up by mines and getting impaled by stalactites, I thought to myself, "This is hard!" then remembered my good old Castlevania days and went back at it again. (For what it's worth, it might not be so hard for others, but specifically for me, these traps were in red and green hues, unfortunate for someone like me who has red/green colorblindness!)

The boss battles were fun and rewarding, especially since it took a fairly long time just to reach them, but after you beat your brother, you move on to the next world and encounter a different set of challenges to work your way up to yet another battle.

Rico is one of the true undiscovered gems that I've come across, and I'm not alone in this assessment. When I've had discussions about some great games people just haven't heard about, this came up enough times that I had to give it a look. It has an average rating of 5 stars from 57 reviews. If you liked Castlevania, Metroid, or Super Mario Brothers, give Rico a good hard look. It's available to download for $2.99. And yes, it's worth it.

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Amazon.com: because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

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