The 16-bit era was full of timeless classics and games that are better off forgotten. Fox n Forests is heavily inspired by that era so get ready for one furry retro adventure!
Fox n Forests has you play as Rick the Fox (is that a reference to the actor Rick Fox?) who's on a quest to help a bird and its forest because he hopes to strike it rich in the process. As soon as you boot it up, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how authentic it looks and sounds like a Super NES game. Besides being widescreen, the visuals feel like they're ripped straight from a SNES cartridge with detailed environments and plenty of kooky enemies that are more often than not rather stiffly animated. Thankfully, Rick runs through stages and fights his adversaries with some smooth moves. The music is reminiscent of this era as well with plenty of toe-tapping tunes that manage to make the gameplay even more enjoyable. Overall, I'm happy that the developers put so much effort into making Fox n Forests a genuinely authentic-feeling retro experience.
As Rick, you run and jump around stages while combating plenty of odd enemies. You do so by firing a crossbow and using its bayonet for a melee attack. These are mapped to the same button. When Rick stands still or runs, he fires projectiles. When he crouches or jumps, he slashes away which can destroy certain objects to hopefully reveal some health or coins. You'll unlock a few extra moves, too, such as twirling your blade in mid-air and a ground stomp. Anyway, the gameplay is rather basic and easy to learn. However, it's also quite clunky in that controlling Rick feels pretty stiff. This is especially true when enemies are just out of reach. Having to duck or jump to a very specific height in order to carefully slash at enemies just feels silly considering he has a crossbow. Aim that sucker, you silly fox!
As you play, you'll gather a wealth of coins that you can either use at the Forest Plaza to purchase upgrades or mid-level to buy checkpoints from a retro gamer who's trying to save up to expand their collection. That's not too on the nose, is it? The checkpoint system is clever in that you have to decide whether it's worth it or not but it can also be annoying when you think of the fact that most games just have free checkpoints. You'll also gather magic seeds that are required in order to open further worlds as well as two different kinds of upgrade materials that are rare to come across. Finding all these things makes exploration fairly rewarding, especially considering you get more ammunition types after beating each boss which allows you to open areas that you couldn't explore previously.
Even though the exploration is somewhat satisfying, the fact that you're forced to backtrack to find enough magic seeds after beating every world is a huge pain in the butt. I hate having to replay levels so many times but you're forced to do it again and again until you have enough magic seeds to move on. Seeing as you can easily miss these seeds because they can be in very obscure spots, having to carefully comb every nook and cranny becomes tedious to the point where you might decide to just quit playing entirely.
It got me thinking: I bet the developers put in this forced backtracking because Fox n Forests is an incredibly short game at its core. There are only 8 moderately sized stages and a handful of bosses to battle so making you play the levels over and over again adds some much-needed replay value. However, it's not fun replay value. It's more of a chore than anything.
Fox n Forests is impressive in its authentic SNES visuals, sound, and gameplay. That being said, if it were an actual Super NES game then it would be one of those obscure titles that only a handful of gamers enjoyed back in the day.
- + Looks, sounds, and plays like a genuine long-lost Super NES game
- + Easy to learn gameplay
- + Exploration can be rewarding
- - Gameplay is pretty stiff and clunky
- - Forced backtracking is a pain in the ass
- - Very short campaign