Retro-Inspired Indie Games (Part 3)

Retro-Inspired Indie Games (Part 3)

Modern takes on classic games

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Whether it's via their visuals, gameplay, or both, many indie games are clearly inspired by the classics so here are 7 recent retro indies.

Streets of Rogue Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Here we have an incredibly random free-for-all where you can complete missions by using different approaches but is it any good?

Streets of Rogue screenshot
These folks may look cute but they're quite deadly little chums

I must admit; when I first started playing Streets of Rogue, I didn't understand how it could be fun but after hours of horsing around, its open-ended gameplay really clicked with me. You basically choose or create a character then try and master multi-floored dungeons by completing a few missions on each floor to unlock the exit. This may sound simple but each character plays radically different and your array of collected items can change up your approach drastically. For example, you may be able to turn invisible so you can steal an item without anyone being the wiser or unleash tons of firepower to take out a rival gang. The amount of customization is staggering and its graphics are rather appealing albeit simplistic. You can play with up to 4 local players as well which is awesome.

Gameplay-wise, Streets of Rogue is one of the most open-ended games that I've ever played and mastering it is super-rewarding.

Streets of Rogue gameplay video →

Timespinner Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

A Metroidvania with lovely graphics and music where you equip and use a variety of magic orbs sounds great and thankfully, it is!

Timespinner screenshot
Let's fight 3 bosses at once, why not?

From its gameplay to its graphics and music, Timespinner is clearly inspired by the classic Metroidvania Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Although I appreciate completely original works much more than copycat games, it's difficult to fault Timespinner for this since it's such an enjoyable game. You basically run and jump through a somewhat large map while battling enemies and you can even traverse the world in multiple time periods which adds a layer of mystery to its story and setting. Anyway, controlling Lunais primarily involves attacking with your 2 equipped melee weapons and unleashing charged attacks. Regularly swapping out your assortment of orbs so you can see what the different attacks are capable of is great fun, especially when you can take out a particularly difficult boss with a new setup. You also have the ability to stop time although this feature is almost entirely used for simple platforming scenarios.

If you enjoy Metroidvania games then you'll love what Timespinner has to offer with its addictive exploration and combat.

Timespinner gameplay video →

Q-YO Blaster Review Switch ★★★☆☆

There are tons of shoot 'em ups on the Switch so let's see if this quirky space shooter has what it takes to be worth playing.

Q-YO Blaster screenshot
That goofball in the plane sure shoots a lot of things at once!

Q-YO Blaster has you fly and shoot through 10 stages and it features some interesting mechanics. As you destroy enemies, you gather gems that power your special attack gauge and you also have another gauge which unleashes an automatic attack whenever it's full that depends on your current partner. Speaking of which, setting yourself up before taking off involves choosing a handful of aspects so experimenting with which characters, weapons, and such suit your play style is pretty fun. Anyway, as you play, you can deploy a pulse whenever it's charged that turns all onscreen projectiles to gems which is cool. However, the gameplay is incredibly generic even with all of these mechanics and the graphics seem rather blurry which is weird considering that it's merely a 2D indie game.

For those who must own every shoot 'em up on Switch, Q-YO Blaster is worth downloading even with its middle-of-the-road gameplay.

Q-YO Blaster gameplay video → More Switch Shoot 'em Ups

SolSeraph Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Indie devs love combining genres and SolSeraph's mix of 2D action and tower defense is definitely intriguing so let's check it out!

SolSeraph screenshot
I hope my little villagers are doing okay...

In SolSeraph, you control humankind's guardian as you try and ward off hordes of encroaching monsters. In the tower defense mode, you basically place structures and assign people to posts in order to earn resources and kill incoming foes. You keep this up while expanding your village to the point where you can reach dark clouds then you create a temple to drive away the darkness and enter an enemy lair. Once there, the gameplay shifts to a simple 2D action game as you run, jump, and attack enemies using either your sword or bow and arrows. This formula then repeats until you expose the boss area which can take hours then you move on to the next stage. I enjoyed this formula a great deal although neither the tower defense or 2D action modes are complex enough to be engaging.

If SolSeraph featured more in-depth core gameplay in either of its 2 genres then it would be a much more fulfilling experience.

SolSeraph gameplay video →

Aggelos Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Retro 2D action adventure games set in open worlds need to do a lot to stand out. Does Aggelos live up to its genre predecessors?

Aggelos screenshot
World of Light, huh? This sure doesn't look like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!

We've already discussed a Metroidvania inspired by Symphony of the Night and here's one that borrows a lot from Wonder Boy games. Aggelos has you control a hero who's battling invading monsters to save Lumen Kingdom. As you run, jump, and fight monsters, you'll gain experience points to level up as well as items and money. Eventually, you'll unlock different abilities that help with traversing the elaborate world. Being able to thrust your sword down after jumping and turn enemies into platforms is nifty stuff indeed. However, I wish there was a map because I frequently got lost even with the fortune teller's advice of where to go next in mind. The graphics and sound also don't go above and beyond to create a memorable game world, especially with the repetitive music loops. Plus, difficulty spikes can be irritating to deal with. That being said, I enjoyed the boss fights and puzzles a great deal.

When a game is inspired by the classics, you'd hope that it improves upon them. Although Aggelos doesn't, it's still a rather fun game.

Aggelos gameplay video →

Run the Fan Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Circuit-building mini-games have been around for decades so here's a game that's full of tricky action-oriented puzzles.

Run the Fan screenshot
If I had to do this every time I wanted to run my computer's fan, I wouldn't bother

Run the Fan has you control a ball as you roll around a circuit board in order to guide 1 or more electric sparks to their respective cooling fans. This sounds silly but the gameplay is as challenging as it is unique. For starters, you roll the ball around as if you're playing Super Monkey Ball then you hold a button to link 2 nodes so the current can jump from one to the other. You can imagine how challenging this gets when you can fall off the stage and when you have to guide multiple sparks at once. Additionally, many stages feature tons of red herrings thus forcing you to figure out the correct path but don't worry; once the current fails to reach its goal, you could always retry. Lastly, I enjoyed the music a lot but I wish there were some sort of challenges aside from simply beating every stage.

If you're looking for an enjoyable series of puzzles to work through then Run the Fan offers both challenging and satisfying gameplay.

Run the Fan gameplay video →

Kid Tripp Review PlayStation 4 ★★☆☆☆

Few genres involve as much trial and error as stage-based endless runners but is Kid Tripp more fun than annoying?

Kid Tripp screenshot
Finally, sweet revenge! Take that, you darn monkey!

Last year, I enjoyed the fun Miles & Kilo and now, its predecessor Kid Tripp is available for PS4. However, instead of being a straight-up 2D platformer, it's an endless runner which means you automatically run forward and your only controls are to jump and throw rocks. Even though this sounds simple, almost everything in Kid Tripp is strategically placed by the developers to kill you and let me tell you; jumping a gap only to have a monkey throw something at you at the peak of your jump is super-frustrating stuff. As a result, you have to play through each stage many times in order to master it and once you do, you'll likely be annoyed since most levels only take half a minute or so to complete on a successful run. Still, the graphics and music are charming so repeated attempts aren't entirely painful.

Gamers who enjoy finally beating levels after countless attempts will like Kid Tripp but everyone else should avoid this frustrating runner.

Kid Tripp gameplay video → Miles & Kilo Review
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