Arkedo Series was developed by Arkedo Studio and published by Sanuk Games. It was released on October 16, 2012 for $5.99. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.
The Arkedo Series, an anthology of games by Arkedo Studio, is a throwback to times long past. When games were more about the intense challenge that came through hard and sometimes frustrating game design than they were about technical breakthroughs. A time when games didn’t hold the player’s hand as much and respected them as a player.
The download comes with three of the games previously released on the PlayStation Network, including JUMP!, a collect-a-thon game where the player must grab bombs and escape before time runs out. SWAP!, a puzzle game where the player must match four or more blocks of the same color in a row by swapping them around. Last, but not least, PIXEL!, an action-adventure style platformer where the player takes control of a cat and navigates through treacherous worlds.
What we liked:
Art design: There is a trend amongst many independent developers today where the games of old are emulated through both their gameplay and their aesthetic, but this is not often updated to appear more modern. Luckily, all of the games in the Arkedo Series are absolutely beautiful to look at, from the vivid greens and reds of JUMP!, the cutesy Japanese-influenced character and color palettes of SWAP!, and the gorgeous blue tint that dominates the levels in PIXEL!.
Controls: The game consistently plays like a breeze, with extremely tight controls that make what could have been a lame rehash of designs long gone feel great and enjoyable. JUMP! and PIXEL! both consistently seem to impress with their feel, and it’s evident that Arkedo Studio put a lot of time and effort into making sure that the game just felt right. It’s something difficult to explain well, as many often feel differently about what good “game feel” is, but rest assured that the Arkedo Series does not disappoint in this category, where it matters most.
Sound Design: The game sounds beautiful, thanks to the wonderful chiptune-esque samples that constantly chirp in and out of your ears for every action you do, such as jumping on an enemy or successfully finishing a puzzle in PIXEL! It really sells the ideas of good game feel, or the different elements of the game all working together in wonderful harmony, being transmitted to the player throughout the Arkedo Series.
What we didn’t like:
Repetitive design: While it’s undeniable that the game is a blast to play in short bursts, it suffers from some design choices which make the game repetitive. The levels and enemies in PIXEL! and JUMP! all feel derivative of each other, and this is a huge problem; if a platformer is to be truly great, the designers need to ensure that new elements and dynamics to the core mechanics are constantly being introduced so that it feels dynamic and worthwhile to play to the end. Likewise, SWAP! is sort of a drag to play, as it’s not really all that difficult and doesn’t feel very rewarding to play through as the challenges are extremely simple and similar to each other.
Music: The music here on display isn’t really much to write home about. The songs are very short and repetitive, with no pieces really standing out as exceptional. It’s a shame that these songs couldn’t be extended a bit, as this could have helped the pieces out. As they are now, the songs loop too quickly, and this can become grating in some of the lengthier levels in PIXEL! As well, there simply aren’t enough tracks to listen to, so the player might find themselves irritatingly humming along to the constant petering of the only music to listen to here, or even just turning on music of their own. All in all, it feels like an opportunity to create something evocative of the retro days with their wonderful memorable tracks was wasted on an afterthought of a soundtrack.
The negative aspects of this series do hurt the game a bit, but you are still getting a pretty robust package at a very low price of $5.99. I hope that Arkedo can continue in the direction of making fun and difficult games for download spaces like the PlayStation Network, as they have displayed that they know what they’re doing in the platformer genre.
Score: Buy it!