Platformers: the genre that introduced much of the gaming population to gaming in the first place. Whether it was Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog or any other old platforming title, these games let us maneuver over and under obstacles, giving a feeling of immersion that is still so unique to its genre. Fortunately, games similar to those that founded the genre have not completely vanished off the face of the earth. From WayForward Technologies and D3 Publisher comes a new side-scrolling adventure called Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land for the Nintendo 3DS that travels several decades back to bring a taste of the old with the new. It sounds splendid enough, but execution is key. A bundle of great ideas may not be worth much if they aren’t pulled together with a neat little bow, so let’s see how this title fares.
If you’ve seen even a single episode of Regular Show, you’ve probably noticed how many of its jokes and references are dripping with a retro feel. Right away, you can tell that “retro” is exactly what WayForward was going for when developing Mordecai & Rigby in 8-bit Land, and that’s exactly what they accomplished, except that the game’s graphics are technically 16-bit, but I’ll let that slide. An awesome soundtrack of chiptunes pervade the game’s four separate worlds. The 3-D effects work very well here as they provide a subtle layering to the foreground, background, and everything in between that actually helps a lot in the latter half of the game.
So far, it certainly looks and sounds like a retro game, but does it play like one? Actually, yes, very much so. The biggest factor in maintaining the feel of an old school platformer is the lives system, similar to Super Mario Bros. and tons of other retro games. Similarly, one touch from an enemy is enough to KO the player. On the contrary however, Regular Show plays very different from a Super Mario game, as the gameplay changes in certain levels to become either a side-scrolling shooter, a top-down shooter, or an eclectic mix of the two, which is when the game is at its trickiest.
Mordecai & Rigby in 8-bit Land may be based off of a show on Cartoon Network, but, like the television show, this game probably isn’t geared towards kids. The game’s content is perfectly age-appropriate, although children likely won’t understand much of the humor as it mainly revolves around the 80s, what with the mullets, jorts, cassettes tapes, the Game Genie, and more, but rather the game itself is actually pretty damn difficult. By the end of Regular Show, I felt like I was playing Dark Souls, dying over and over again thanks to careless mistakes. The whole last world pretty much requires a certain cautiousness to get through unscathed that reminded me of treading through the Undead Parish. When this tension is mixed with the level design that frequently takes you in every which direction, Mordecai & Rigby performs at its best, showing its true colors as an excellent 2-D platformer. It’s all much more of a love letter to the days of yore and those who lived through it. It’s just too bad that the fun is over way too soon.
While I was grateful that I managed to brave through the game’s difficult final levels, I couldn’t help but wish that there had been more. For a retail price of $29.99, Mordecai & Rigby in 8-bit Land really doesn’t provide very much content. There is some concept art that can be unlocked as you amass a collection of golden cassette tapes from various levels, and there’s a jukebox to listen to the game’s soundtrack, but aside from the game’s 20 levels, there isn’t much else to warrant the price, making it feel more like a digital bargain title on the 3DS eShop, like WayForward’s own Mighty Switch Force.
Had the game been longer, there would have been more space for variety in the environments and music, but instead it’s left as a relatively bittersweet experience. The plot of the game itself is fairly bare with many of the game’s references to the show being left as something completely random and bizarre when out of context, although it’s already weird as hell even within the context of the show. I love stomping on evil geese and men with powdered wigs, but they and the majority of the game really has no explanation for anything. With enough gameplay, this wouldn’t really matter, but with it’s meager amount of content, this makes the whole package seem somewhat lackluster.
In spite of it all, Mordecai & Rigby is a very fun and challenging 2-D platforming adventure that makes you almost feel like you’re a kid again, toughing it out in a flat world, jamming to lovely chiptunes. Unfortunately, it’s also a really short game compared to similar titles like Super Mario World. Regular Show boasts some very fun mechanics as the game can turn into a side-scrolling shooter or top-down shooter in an instant, but it feels like the developers ran out of ideas and just quit while they had something good. Had they continued, this could have been another increasingly difficult, but increasingly fun title to recommend to all 3DS owners, however, for now, the retail price of $29.99 may not be worth it. Still, for anyone looking for something akin to the old school, Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-bit Land may definitely be worth your time.
[+Fairly nice graphics and use of 3-D effect][+Great 8-bit soundtrack][+Very challenging][+Ripe with personality and 80s-90s references][+Better than your average licensed title][+Excellent mechanics switch things up in an instant][-Its potential never feels fully explored][-Very short][-Not enough content to warrant the price][-Mediocre menu presentation and cutscenes][-Some technical bugs]
You can purchase your copy of Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-bit Land for the 3DS right here.