Golden Force – Review

Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4

2021 – Pixelheart

Publisher Pixelheart has just released another awesome retro-style game for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4. Golden Force! You get some great 2D platforming action with gameplay that will remind you of your favorite classics.

I was able to get my hands on the Xbox One version and gave it a go, so let’s take a good look and see what Golden Force delivers.

Features:
– 4 worlds full of challenges.
– 4 playable characters.
– Tons of secret and obscured challenges for hardcore gamers.
– Created with Old-School style difficulty.
– Play solo or with a friend in 2 player co-op mode on one system.
– Truly fearful “bosses”.

The Story:

The King of Demons has set his sights on Muscle Island, a peaceful paradise where life is good and all is well. Yet this evil monster sends in his army and attacks the populace. Wasting their last coins in the island’s taverns, mercenaries from the powerful Golden Force enjoy their last moments of vacation when they receive a new contract: defeat this evil threat in order to win back the Gold Mountain now in the Demon King’s possession.

Where there’s gold and a promise of great battles, count on the Golden Force to save your skin!

Good stuff, and that’s all the story you need. So pick one of the four available heroes and fight your way through the hordes of enemies, traps and bosses, to reach the King of Demons!

 

The Characters

At the start of the game all four characters are selectable. 

Gutz – A sword wielding swashbuckler.

Spina – The dual saber vixen

Drago – A dragon with a battle axe

Elder – An old salty dog with robot arms

All the characters play the same for the most part. I couldn’t notice any difference other than cosmetics. I could be wrong, but I went through the whole game and played as all of them. Maybe Drago’s double jump reaches a little higher? Maybe not.

A nice touch is that each of the characters also has several color schemes to choose from.

The Gameplay:

Your crew are on board a sailing galleon at the start of the game. You are presented an overhead map showing four islands. Each of these islands consists of three stages and a boss fight. You have to clear the first island before the next one is selectable (we’ve seen this before…)

Once you select an island you pick your character. Each character can clear the maps equally. No single character needs to be selected because of their abilities, which is a little bit of a bummer. Just go which what you like! That being said all of them look and animate beautifully. A major bonus is the ability to play 2-Player! And often forgotten game aspect that works great here!

Each island has a theme and each stage presents different challenges. You can go about beating the stages slowly and exploring everywhere, or you can dash through and past enemies to complete it as fast as possible. This is a side-scrolling adventure similar to many that you have probably played. You run to the right (mostly) and have to take on continually spawning enemies, dash and jump over deadly spikes and occasionally find a trigger to open a passage.

Also on each level are a couple collectables, three large gold coins and a golden shell. Collecting them will give you bonus gold at the end of the level. The coins, shells and gold you receive at the end of each level can be spent at a shop located on the overhead map. With the coins and shells you can buy permanent hit points and attack upgrades to your character, which is really nice. The gold you aquire can be used to buy consumable attack or character  bonuses that can be activated on any level. These includes freezing attacks or invulnerability and others. All of these are a one time use and last for a few seconds. 

Once you complete three stages on an island you reach the fourth stage which is just a boss fight. Each boss has at least two forms, and are all a blast.

At the end of each stage you receive points for several factors. How fast you beat the level, how high did your combo meter get, how much gold did you collect and so on. There is a bar for each island that fills up based on the amount of end-of-stage point you received for each stage. As the bar goes up you can win special items (normally bought at the store).

The collectable coins and shells, and the over-all island bonus bar, give you a good reason for going back and playing each level again. Wether to find the last missing (and hard to find) coin or trying to beat your fastest time, and maximize the island bonus.

The level designs are good and fighting is a blast. And while there aren’t a lot of mechanics that are unfamiliar to seasoned players, there are a few clever situations you have to navigate on some stages.

The Controls:

Your character has a multi-hit combo that will dispatch the basic enemies after 3-4 hits. Although some of the enemies require more than your first flurry of slashes, causing you to have to reposition and go at them again. If you press up while attacking you can throw them into the air. It doesn’t do much other than making combat a little more creative.

As you attack you build up a combo meter. This will give you more bonus points at the end of each stage. It is reset by either getting hit or going too long between attacks. There is also a Special Attack bar that fills up gather treasure across the stage. Once it is full, a press of a button will call in a hail of cannon fire from your ship offshore, clearing all enemies on the screen.

Par for the platform course you have a jump and double jump. You can also dash, which is very useful. Your dash works either side-to-side or straight up when pressing up. This is a great way to hit monsters above you. The dash also works with your basic combo attack. So you can Jump into the air, then dash attack up, then start swinging your regular attack in the air, which will hold you in place, allowing to “float” long distances (often to reach a hidden area).

The controls are tight a spot on, Making your little guy zip and slash his or her way around the screen is easy and fun.

The Graphics:

Golden Force is a beautiful game. With the popular retro-pixel style, this game looks like it would be at home on 32-Bit systems like the SEGA Saturn or SONY PS1. The animation is great on your characters, enemies and awesome giant bosses. The levels are very colorful and fun with several layers of background scrolling. It is a pleasure to look at.

The Sound:

Song Bird Studios did a great job on the music. Each island has its own soundtrack and all of them are quality. As this is an attack heavy game, you will hear the attack/slashing sound a lot, which the wife brought up while I was playing for hours. Still, it didn’t bother me and every sound fits the game perfectly.

The Difficulty:

This isn’t a brutally hard game and is very approachable and easy to play. You can pass most stages fairly easily. You will get caught on a section every other stage or so that will kill you several times over, but with practice you will be able to make it through and look like a boss doing it. 

Speaking of Bosses, these can be challenging. Each has at least two forms and several attacks that will have to be mastered to beat them. Fortunately dying on any stage or boss just restarts you from the beginning or a check point if you passed one, and it’s never to far back. The real difficulty will come from trying to collect all the items on each stage. 

The Verdict:

There isn’t much to fault on Golden Force. It’s as solid an action platformer as you will play. Great graphics, controls and sound make for a great game. I would have liked a couple more islands as there are only the four, but that’s about it. That being said I had a blast playing it for the review. 

Golden Force gets a solid 4 out of 5 Trog.

Golden Force – Video Review

One thing I love about Pixelheart Games is that they have all kinds of options in packaging. Including awesome collectors boxes. Golden Force is no different. The release date is March 2021, you can purchase your copy using the links below.

The standard edition is a classic physical edition of the game. It will be available on 3 different platforms:

The Limited Edition is a steelbook edition, you will receive your game in a beautiful matte black metal box. It will be available on 2 platforms:

And finally, the Mercenary Edition which will be a PixelHeart world exclusive (only available on our website). This edition will contain a collector’s wooden box with the game’s OST, a magnet coin, a futurpak, a coaster, a case, a key ring, a t-shirt and a copy of the game. It will be available on 2 platforms:

You can also find the standard edition and the deluxe edition on Pixelhearts co-publisher’s website: Just for Games

Have you always wanted to write Game Reviews?  Now's your chance! Gametrog is looking for reviews on any classic game system!