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A Hole New World Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . If you can get beyond the punishing difficulty, A Hole New World offers a fun and authentic experience with a lot of charm. I like most of the levels, memorizing the boss patterns and the effective pixel art. I think the developers at Mad Gear Games has a lot of potential and I can't wait to see what they come up with next. This is a retro-inspired action game that not only makes the most out of the old school theme, but also reminds you that games from the 1980s can be insanely frustrating at times. Rating: 71%
A Hole New World
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  • Review Score:

  • B
A Hole New World is the very best and worst of old school gaming. Despite being a brand new 2017 release, this retro-themed 2D action game looks and plays just like it could have been released back in 1987. It offers authentic pixel graphics, a great chiptunes soundtrack, a cool new character and a fun set of bosses. It nails all of the things I love about those ancient 8-bit games. Unfortunately, it also reminds me of some of the things I absolutely hated about those old cartridges, especially when it comes to the punishing difficulty spikes right at the very end.

In true retro fashion, we're introduced to the Potion Master through a lengthy cinema that sets up the story. It tells us about the once-peaceful world of Versee, which was split in two when evil threatened to seize control. After years of fighting, Lord Baduk has discovered the Orb of Darkness and plans to enter the world of Versee and take power once and for all. It's up to the brave Potion Master to fight through a bunch of challenging levels and save the day.


What I like about A Hole New World is that it's not yet another Metroidvania-style action game. Don't get me wrong, some of my favorite games of all time fall into that genre, but it often feels like the default for developers making retro-inspired products. This is a straight forward action game that feels like a cross between Ghosts 'N Goblins and the original Castlevania. You basically walk from left to right throwing potions and platforming your way to the boss. Complete the linear level and you'll earn a new weapon and the ability to move on to a completely different location filled with another batch of enemies.

What sets this game apart is that every stage has what I can only refer to as an Upside Down World. No, not that Upside Down World, I'm talking about parts of the level that are literally upside down. You can shift between these two worlds by simply jumping into what look like bottomless pits. This not only changes the color scheme, but also some of the level layouts. It can give you an interesting choice between paths, something that helps keep this game fresh throughout its short run time.

Jumping between worlds isn't as confusing as you might think, especially when it comes to the controls. In fact, the gameplay doesn't actually change when you are upside down, which is something I really appreciated about the design. I also like that the bosses require not only skill to beat, but also a level of observation and memorization. Although not the largest bad guys, these bosses have a series of predictable moves that you'll need to learn in order to stand a chance. A Hole New World makes a lot of smart decisions that do a good job of mimicking those old games while simultaneously adding something new.

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The truth is, I loved this game right up to the very end. But then, in true 8-bit style, the game ramps up the difficulty in a way I didn't enjoy. The final stage is nothing but cheap hits, followed by a boss that is significantly more unfair than anything that came before. It took me right back to the days of trying to beat the final boss in Ninja Gaiden and constantly hitting a wall. Part of this is because some of the new weapons we earn kind of suck and I desperately needed a few more hearts added to my health. On one hand, the punishing difficulty is as authentic as the pixel graphics. But that doesn't mean I had a good time replaying the final fight dozens of times.

It's probably worth mentioning that the game has a lot to offer to those who overcome the challenge. There's a new game plus mode, challenge mode, several endings and even an extra mode that has you fighting all seven bosses one after another. I like that, and think this certainly has enough content to keep fans of old school games playing for quite a while. That said, the adventure isn't all that long and probably won't take more than two or maybe three hours to complete.

If you can get beyond the punishing difficulty, A Hole New World offers a fun and authentic experience with a lot of charm. I like most of the levels, memorizing the boss patterns and the effective pixel art. I think the developers at Mad Gear Games has a lot of potential and I can't wait to see what they come up with next. This is a retro-inspired action game that not only makes the most out of the old school theme, but also reminds you that games from the 1980s can be insanely frustrating at times.
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