Booting up 8-Bit Adventures 2 is like rediscovering a cherished childhood game long-lost in my basement’s depths. Its sounds and visuals whisk me back to a time when pixels ruled. Winningly, while encapsulating a retro feel, it caters to modern sensibilities with autosaves, varied gameplay, and streamlined playability.
8-Bit Adventure 2’s cherry on top is a world bursting with personality and intriguing metanarrative. So far in my seven-hour playthrough, it all adds up to a title that retro JRPG enthusiasts can’t miss and no player should overlook.
I’m not even 1/3 through the thirty-hour titles, but the narrative has already transformed from a fun, if well-trod, heroic journey to a Westworld-like plot. I start the game as an unnamed warrior, overlooking a sun-scorched desert. Infiltrating a forgotten ruin, I learn to fight with a tutorial whose instructions are unobtrusively etched into the sands.
A foolish foe steps up to challenge my approach (which triggers a banger of a battle theme to start playing). Like many of the game’s encounters, the moment of danger is blended with a little humor. It’s not lost on me that the creature is alliteratively called a Rattling Ravager, and this silly naming trend still delights me, even hours in.
It’s not just names though, one of my favorite baddies is a crocodile — which I find much later — that promises something good if I don’t attack. Of course, it uses its turn to take a bite out of my health bar. Once defeated, I realize the beast is named What A Croc, referencing the lies it feeds opponents in battle. It’s a grade-A dad joke.
Back in the sand-filled boots of my heroic adventurer, I easily cut down every enemy with a fun battle system. The turn-based, party-focused setup should be easy for any JRPG fan to pick up immediately, but 8-Bit Adventures twists the familiar formula to avoid boring players.
Inspired by more modern games, my character has a special bar that, when full, lets me unleash an Omega attack. This differs for each playable character, but the warrior’s attack is a melee powerhouse meant to punish a single adversary. I also have the option to decide the power of my normal attacks.
A weak attack is guaranteed to hit, but deals minimal damage. While opting for a strong blow will seriously hurt the target, if I can manage to land it. If that’s not enough variety, I can also call on special — AP-costing — abilities to debuff opponents or make me stronger.
Every playable character (like the thief who can blind enemies mid-battle, or the mage who can call lightning out of the sky) not only has different abilities, but unique play options. With the thief, for example, I can use a turn to pickpocket a hostile creature, rather than fighting it. The result is usually a special object or gear piece that I couldn’t otherwise obtain.
After spending a short time with my iron-clad fighter exploring the desert ruins, I cross paths with a different type of evil. It’s a small boy, covered in shadow even in the glaring sun. He steps forward asking for friendship before the world malfunctions, shifting left and right all in one split second. Something isn’t as it seems here, and the path to figuring out what has only gotten more gripping.
My journey takes me to snowy peaks, lava-filled volcanoes, bustling cities, magical towers, and I can’t wait to battle my way through even more of 8-Bit Adventures 2‘s locations — collecting friends and saving the world as I go.