La-Mulana has a long history dating back 15 years and now you can enjoy both games in the series in one whip-lashingly cool package.
La-Mulana began in 2005 as a retro-inspired platformer that emulated an MSX game. Since then, it has seen a remake which released on Wii in 2012 and that saw a port to Vita a few years later. As a console guy, I enjoyed it on both Wii and Vita but I never played La-Mulana 2 before. Little did I know, it actually only just released in 2018 for PC and now, western console gamers can enjoy it in this collection.
History aside, what makes La-Mulana a worthwhile game? Well, it's one of the most challenging 2D action adventure games ever created that tests both your reflexes and your brain with its tricky platforming and puzzles. Of course, this formula has been done countless times before and admittedly, La-Mulana doesn't stand out from the crowd much but it does in that it feels like an authentic retro experience. In other words, it does not mess around which will surely alienate many modern gamers yet simultaneously delight old souls.
La-Mulana Xbox One ★★★★☆
First up, we have the remake of the original La-Mulana. It's been years since I last played it and when I played it through again for this review; I was pretty stumped for the first couple of hours. Thankfully, it all started coming back to me and after I discovered the Holy Grail which allows you to warp and some useful items, I found myself carefully exploring the elaborate ruins with every newly discovered treasure bringing a huge sense of accomplishment. As the campaign progressed, the bosses gave me a substantial challenge while some of the puzzles kept me scratching my head but I progressed and that perseverance makes La-Mulana such an enjoyable game.
If you're not the kind of gamer who likes patiently chipping away at a challenging game world in order to make a bit of progress here and there, this is not a game for you but if you're willing to keep at it then you'll find a supremely rewarding adventure complete with oodles of hidden treasures that may help unlock new areas or increase your odds of surviving a tough segment or boss fight. From collecting items to loading your laptop up with new software, each bit of progress feels like putting a puzzle together piece by piece.
La-Mulana 2 Xbox One ★★★★☆
Considering La-Mulana 2 released a handful of years after the remake of the original, I was expecting it to be a huge improvement. In many ways, it definitely is, but not as much as I had hoped. The most noticeable enhancement is that your character (who is the daughter of the first game's protagonist) can be controlled slightly while in mid-air which contrasts with the original's stiff physics that force you to jump with deliberately-aimed leaps. Anyway, its graphics seem more modern as well although I appreciate the original's visual style more. Oh, and speaking of presentation, both games feature fantastic music and plenty of humour which ranges from genuinely funny to a bit brash. Either way, you're sure to occasionally crack a smile when conversing with the game world's inhabitants.
La-Mulana 2 is slightly more challenging than the first game but there are a couple of ways in which it accomplishes this that are kind of annoying. For starters, it features a lot more pitfalls and traps and many of them have no visual cues or hints alluding to the fact that danger is ahead. So, you may get crushed by a ceiling or fall into a pit then have to memorize where these traps are whenever you find yourself in these rooms again. Finally, I can't stand having to refer to a guide whenever I play a game but I regularly got stumped in both of these adventures and after reading about what I had to do, I rarely thought, "I could have figured that out myself."
Both La-Mulana games are excellent experiences for gamers looking to master elaborate 2D worlds filled with challenging bosses, platforming scenarios, and puzzles. With that said, it can still be a frustrating affair and one that casual gamers should avoid.
- + Challenging gameplay that rewards perseverance and careful planning
- + Spot-on 2D visuals and sound
- + Loads of secrets to discover
- - Less patient gamers will likely despise their time with these games
- - It's often tricky to know what to do
- - Surprise deaths are a huge nuisance