It's not often that you find new games launching these days that do a good job trying to bring back the classic game styles that many of us grew up playing. One game series that I spent a lot of time playing was Mega-man, which was the series that inspired Bonus Level Entertainment to develop Fox n Forests.
Rick the fox was about to commit some evil deeds one day when he came across an animal asking for help. Curious, he accepted to follow the animal to the problem. Once they arrived, Rick finds himself standing in front of the ancient tree who asks for his help retrieving the magic bark of the four seasons before the evil witch gets a hold of them to try and create a fifth session.
The game doesn't contain a lot of level, but each level it does have is a unique experience of its own. While most of the levels were the classic platformer/action style, full of enemies and hidden areas to find, there were a few that fit a different genre.
Starting with the genre that the game is based in, platformer/action, each level would have a base season and one season that it could be changed to. The base season would be based on what section of the game you are in while the season that you could change the level into was based on the types of puzzles and challenges within the level. Levels with a water section typically had winter as an optional season while levels that were more platforming focused would bounce between spring and fall for the different type of plants that would grow in a forest in these time periods. The second season required mana, which worked a lot like a stamina bar and could be replenished when in use by collecting blue crystals that are all around the different maps.
The combat had two weapon types: bow and sword. The bow is your main weapon, but with every arrow you let fly a chunk of mana is lost. The mana does replenish itself over time, slowly, but this is something to keep in mind when you are changing seasons because the downfall could be your own attacks. The type of arrow that you use would be the basic one at first, but as you complete sections of the game and defeat bosses, collecting the Magic Bark of that season, and return it to the elder tree, you are awarded new arrow types. The sword was your weapon for when you jumped, offering a horizontal slash on the first jump and a vertical slash on the second jump, or when you crouched down.
Each arrow type has its own effect and use. The green ones spray arrows in three different directions, the red ones were a heavy hitting rapid fire, and the blue ones worked like a boomerage. These arrows were helpful with fighting different enemies from different safe distances, but they also were needed for the puzzles. Most of the hidden areas in the game, or even the locations that were just out of reach, are able to be found by hitting a target that is the color of the arrow it needs to be shot with.
There is a small area in between the elder tree and the world map where you can upgrade your weapons, mana, health, and buy potions that will fill empty vials you find with an element that you can use to help you fight. My personal favorite was the Spirit potion that summoned a wolf that annihilates anything on the screen!
When it comes to bosses, this game did it the best. After going into the fight blind, unsure how to defeat your great foe, and failing to beat them would cause you to go back to the world map to either try again or select a different level. Before it would actually load out of the screen to load up the map, a box pops up and asks if you would like a hint. If you select yes, they tell you what you need to do in order to defeat them. You can always say no if you want to keep trying yourself, but it was great to have an easy way to find out what I was doing wrong.
As for the levels that were a bit different than the platformer/action style ones, they are side scroller avoid and shooters. Placed on the back of your newfound winged companion, you are taken through the level at a consistent speed while given the ability to shoot, change the season, and even use your potions. These sections proved to be challenging as well, thanks to your damage endurance being lowered to a single heart that is lost when you take any amount of damage.
Graphics and Sounds
Keeping to the retro style of what influenced Bonus Level Entertainment to develop Fox n Forests, the game is fully made in pixel art. From the beautiful backgrounds to the multiple enemies, the game is loaded with clear imagery that was put together one pixel at a time.
The music is an up beat, energetic sound that fills the main menu and each level. Oddly the music dampens and changes dramatically when you change the season though. They did a great job with the sound effects as well. Everything matched up to what was going on around you and what actions you were executing without being annoying.
For the completionists out there, this game provides rewards for each section being fully completed. There are more areas to explore in each level as you unlock more arrow types and bonus levels for finding all the magic seeds in each area. Finding every seed, crystal, and metal wheel are the only non-spoiler reason I'm willing to share. Once you beat the game, there is an extra motivation for you to get all the magic seeds.
What Could Be Better
You aren't able to shoot arrows after jumping nor use your sword while standing despite the fact that there are two different buttons to execute an attack. They should've made one button for shooting arrows and one for your sword so that you can use them in a different variety of ways.
The drastic change in music when changing the season makes sense, except for the fact that the second season for each level didn't have its own music style. This was a small issue, but it is very noticeable and was a down side to changing seasons; even when it was necessary.
Fox n Forests is a great game with a style that is a worthy tribute to the retro classics. It is a lot of fun, full of challenging enemies and puzzles. It was a bit shorter than I would of expected, but all around enjoyable.