Terra Noctis Delivers a Nightmarishly Fun Platformer

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Platformer

It’s safe to say (or maybe not) that the platformer genre is a junkyard filled with graphics-heavy wreckage, boring gameplay shells, and less than appealing characters.  One of the first video games that many of us remember—and I am talking about the younger and semi-young set—is Super Mario Brothers.  A platformer at heart, we didn’t love it just because of the cartoon graphics or the catchy sound effects.  We loved it because it was fun.  That’s what you have with Terra Noctis by FireFruitForge, a retro platformer that brings fun back to the genre.  Great controls, a strange yet curiously charming storyline, and super fun gameplay make Terra Noctis a worthy addition to your gaming collection.

The story in Terra Noctis is unusual to say the least involving a nightmare named Allen.  (Feel free to fill in the blank with your own personal nightmare).  Unfortunately, he’s struggling in the fright department and in danger of flunking out of school.  One night, he discovers a way to become more frightening, which involves gobbling the heart of the scariest monster he can find in the dreamverse.  Thus we begin our adventure which while not as frightening as you would think, is a charming and amusing one.

The guys at FireFruitForge really did a fantastic job presenting the story through comic book cut scenes.  The color scheme which primarily consists of different hues of blue and aqua against muted backdrops helps to add to the wonderful murkiness of the dreamverse.  And, in doing so, sets the retro tone for the overall game itself.

Terra Noctis has a ghostload of worlds, each of which consist of a bounty of levels.  Worlds have names such as Green Steppe, Rusty Fields, Weeping Woods, and Hazelnut Desert.  When first beginning, you’ll run through a tutorial in Green Steppe where players are taught the basics such as moving, jumping, aiming and shooting.  The tutorial is well done and of course you can revisit unlocked worlds and levels at any time.

On the journey, Allen’s goal is to score 100% at each level.  To do that, you need to capture fairies, coins and letters (these spell SCARE).  The fairies come in blue and red and they each have their uses.  The blue fairies are used to purchase a number of powerups including extra lives, speed, bombs, strength and health by visiting Pumpkin World managed by Terra Noctis hottie Pumpkin Girl.  She’ll sell you anything and everything you need but only if you have the right color fairies…sounds like real life.

On the other hand, red fairies are important because a certain number are needed in order to unlock new worlds.  Along the way, you’ll also receive a time bonus based on your speedy ability in completing the level.

An issue I have with many platformers is the level of frustration that comes from poorly implemented controls.  But, what sets Terra Noctis apart from other platformers are the controls which are well thought out and work.  Most of the time, I felt like I had full control of Allen, and he responded as intended.  The controls consist of a d-pad for moving right and left, and two buttons: jump and cover.  Tapping the jump button twice allows Allen to double jump.  The one area that felt awkward is the aiming mechanism that involves tapping in the spot you want to shoot and then dragging to rotate the directional guide.  The mechanism takes somewhat getting used to, but it’s a minor issue in the scheme of things.

The gameplay in Terra Noctis is simply fun.  There’s really no other way to describe it because players will discover different paths and crevices as well as monsters that unlock doors and new entrances.  Along the way, you’ll come across a number of sign posts which provide useful information as well as nightmare ammo refill stations.  Allen may be scary but he doesn’t have unlimited nightmare powers yet.  Allen even gains a bat sidekick later on that Allen can ride across different areas.  The sidekick is a nice touch especially since he’s actually useful since he’ll provide warnings of danger and give you the head’s up on secret areas.

As Allen travels throughout areas, there will be plenty of opportunities to jump platforms and ledges, destroy monsters and flying creatures, and experiment with different paths. Similar to Super Mario, monsters are dispatched by jumping on them, while others require shooting.  In general, monsters run the gamut from Pac Man-like blobs to airborne bats and flies.  There’s even a cannonball shooting plant to deal with.

Terra Noctis uses OpenFient which has plenty of achievements, but unfortunately, no GameCenter support at this time.

FireFruitForge has a winner in Terra Noctis, delivering a well packaged platformer complete with creative levels, easy to use controls, and most importantly, a fun game.  Players will enjoy this romp through dreamverse, and for that alone, the journey not the destination will be worthwhile.

Albie Meter:  5 Stars (thoroughly fun platformer with responsive and easy to use controls; 2D muted visuals set the right tone while catchy soundtrack will linger in your head after you’ve stopped playing: plenty of variation in the levels with replay value from accumulating additional bonuses; OpenFeint only achievements)

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