Kawaii Metroidvania Desu. Misleadingly not mini.
A game called Mini Ghost might seem like it’s gonna be small – it’s in the name, right? So this is just a game you can pick up and playthough in like 15 minutes, like all small games, right?
Wrong – Mini Ghost is actually pretty substantial, wrapped up in an adorably retro package.
Mini Ghost, developed and published [email protected]_fran, can be found on Steam for the very small price of $1.99. It’s usually these kinds of games that you buy because you’re bored/interested, play for about an hour, realize you’ve done everything you can, then exit the game and never play again. And for about $2.00, there’s honestly nothing wrong with that, as there are definitely more expensive forms of entertainment out there. But Mini Ghost has the ability to keep going long past that “indie hour” that plagues small titles; with massive maps, character and level customization, and a Twitch streaming mode where you can troll your friends, this little gem really does have something for everyone (and will occupy time much longer past the hour mark).
Mini Ghost starts off with an evil mastermind hacking into a space computer and making it go on a homicidal-psycho rampage. Said evil mastermind then offers a solution to the unfortunate space station – for a fee, he’ll save the day for them. All it takes is one phone call to Ghost and she’ll get it all taken care of. Thus begins your adventure – playing as Ghost, you’ll barrel your way through baddies to save the space citizens from certain cyber destruction – and just in time, because you were getting pretty bored waiting for something to do (life sure is hard when you’re a merc).
The controls are simple – arrow keys move Ghost, and space bar shoots. “x” will bring up items, including your map, and “c” will shoot special weapons you find along the way. As is the nature of a platformer, you’ll be dipping, ducking, dodging, diving, and dodging your way through a dangerous maze full of flying robots, terrible turrets, and what appear to be colorful daleks that would try to do you in. As you explore the maze, you’ll find power-ups, cubes that can be exchanged for goods, and bosses to destroy. This is worth mentioning that, again, this is priced at $2.00 and average gameplay time is a little over two hours.
Influences on this little platformer appear to be Metroid, Metal Storm, and Legend of Zelda. I’m also reminded of 3D Dot Heroes when it comes to pixelated customization. There’s just a lot going on here, with each screen offering a completely different look and feel than the last. The colors are a bit garish, but that just makes the game feel that much more…ancient? Authentic? In other situations where I would find this a negative, I’m instead seeing a positive. Whatever it is, it just seems to click.
As a pixel junkie, I’m obviously drawn to the art style – Ghost’s animation is adorable and you can definitely make out her hair against her sprite and the background. In addition, the enemies are also well-designed and are distinct from one another. But Mini Ghost is not just a pixel platformer – it also features stylized cut-scenes for your reading pleasure. The music is also a complete homage to the glorious 8-bit days, and for a second there I couldn’t tell what year it was because the music and pixels came together in one beautiful 80s package. I was definitely transported back to a time when I played video games as a kid, and the lengths the developer took to ensure the authenticity of the game are certainly impressive.
The customization abilities is where Mini Ghost takes indies to the next level – literally! The level editor is actually extremely strong and equally gratifying. You can design just about anything to set a challenge for yourself or make something hilarious for a friend to try out (and possibly fail). You can also watch your friends stream the game and troll then mercilessly as they try to defeat the creation (or abomination) you’ve made especially for them. And what friendship would be complete without incessant trolling? Send them false platforms, empty crates, and octopi. Because you can.
Lastly, the character customization, being 8-bit, is super cute and something you could spend literal hours on. You wouldn’t be alone though, as there are even Steam competitions to upload the best skin. Think you can take a whack at it? Test your mettle against the other pixel game fans and see if your design rises to the top.
Mini Ghost is not for the faint of heart. It is not something you can idly play on your lunch break or when you have 15 minutes of downtime. Like other bigger games, you have to set aside time to play this little gem, but by all means is it worth it. What I like best about this tiny title is that it’s got something for everyone – for those that like to play with friends, you can troll them until they’re no longer your friends. For those that like to play alone (maybe after your friends have rage quit on you), you have an entire campaign that will take you back to the days of hand-mapping out your 8-Bit Metroid games. Heck, you can even customize your sprite to be Samus if you so desire. The sky is literally the limit here with this cute little gem, and it’s definitely worth the small, small price of $2.00 to check it out for yourself.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Steam (reviewed); Publisher: @unepic_fran; Developer: @unepic_fran; Players: 1; Released: April 28, 2017; ESRB: N/A; MSRP: $1.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam review copy of Mini Ghost given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher