One of the most delightful things about the modern video game scene is the fact that a lot of developers are willing to go back to classic hardware and make new games.
In doing so, they can create games that feel authentic thanks to their working within the limitations of the original host platform, but which perhaps incorporate some more modern design sensibilities that the gaming community as a whole has figured out over the years.
Xeno Crisis is an unapologetically old-school arcade-style shooter, designed specifically for the Mega Drive and ported to a variety of platforms. That original Mega Drive version is also available as part of a double-game cartridge (alongside the excellent but very different Tanglewood) for the Evercade retro gaming system, and it’s that version specifically that we’re looking at today.
The Evercade isn’t just about old games — it’s also about new games developed for old platforms. Tanglewood, one half of the eleventh cartridge in the system’s library, is a great example.
Developed in 2018 making a specific effort to use authentically ’90s-style techniques and tools that Mega Drive programmers would have used back in the day, Tanglewood is a charming puzzle platformer with a clear artistic vision and some enjoyable gameplay to back it up.
Following the initial batch of ten cartridges for the Evercade retro gaming platform, one of the releases that people were most excited for was cartridge number 11: a double pack featuring arena shooter Xeno Crisis and platformer Tanglewood.
We’ll get to Xeno Crisis in due course, but I wanted to make a point of looking at Tanglewood first. Because while Tanglewood was, like Xeno Crisis, a successful Kickstarter project that ended up being released on both Mega Drive and modern platforms, it’s Xeno Crisis that has had the lion’s share of attention to date. And you know how much I love an underdog. Or an underfox, in this case.
Fortunately, Tanglewood is a lovely game in its own right, so I’m glad I decided to give it a look first. Let’s explore together!