My five-year-old cousin was hanging out with me while I was trying to get some work done. I'm known as “the video game” uncle, so naturally, he was kicking back checking out my library of Switch games. There's a lot on there that he's played before, but when he said “Oh, this one looks interesting”, the highlighted game was the newly released Ravva and the Cyclops Curse, a game I hadn't even played yet!
So, he (and I) gave it a shot, and here's our review!
What do you do in this game?
“You play as some kind of a wizard who can shoot magic and jump, plus you can use four different monsters!”
Ravva and the Cyclops Curse plays like you'd expect from a retro 2D platformer, challenging the player to get past obstacles and enemies that are out to kill them. The big hook in this game is that you can swap on the fly between being able to attack and using different summoned monsters’ abilities.
You change which one is equipped using the shoulder buttons, and each one has a different power. There is a green one who spits at blocks below you and a red one explodes obstacles above you. The blue monster can freeze enemies. The yellow bat makes a circle around you that does not break yellow blocks.
There are a total of ten different levels across a few different environments to play through. Everything is very straightforward and linear. This is a game about finding your way past enemies and platforming challenges, rather than an exploration-based platformer. Still, there's a good variety of enemies and obstacles, so the gameplay stays feeling pretty fresh.
How much fun is it?
“It’s pretty fun. You can upgrade your blast and have to change which ability you are using.”
The variety of abilities make pushing through enemies a bit more interesting than it would be otherwise. The controls all felt simple, smooth, and snappy, so the game was fun to play, even in the few places where the obstacles got tough.
The look of the game also went a long way towards hooking me in. The art style is just as much of a throwback as the gameplay. The pixel art is pretty simple, but it works really, really well.
The biggest hurdle my nephew ran into was that this game was a bit tough for him. Your character dies in a single hit, but then you respawn right where you were at. If you run out of lives and get a game over, you go back to the start of the level. Since you have two extra lives when you start and don't lose overall progress, you can basically take three hits in a level. That was a bit tough for me but way too hard for him.
I wish I'd noticed the “kids mode” difficulty setting while he was playing. Turning that on means that death doesn't actually take away one of your lives, effectively giving you infinite health. I ended up turning this on for my own playthrough, and still had lots of fun with the game. There was a boss fight in the middle of the game that I think would have broken me if I wasn't playing on that mode.
Did you like playing this game?
“Yeah! I wish I could play it for a hundred years!”
My nephew got really, really into this game for about fifteen minutes before he wanted to try something else. That may not sound like much, but considering how many games were at his fingertips I was impressed. He even went back to show my wife how to play it later in the day!
I ended up really enjoying my time with this one. It was awesome to watch my nephew figure out how to play it. When I finally got a turn, I was delighted to find a fun platformer with smooth controls, an interesting hook, and a great vibe. And, just like the best old-school games, it's got a ridiculous difficulty spike that will drive you absolutely bonkers.
Except for the need for the shoulder buttons and a mode that lets you bypass the difficulty, it’d be easy to convince someone that this was a rerelease of an NES cult classic they’d never heard of.