of my favorite video game memories from my childhood were action and adventure games that sometimes n’t make sense, but I kept trying to see how far I could go. I’m talking about classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark on the Atari 2600 (boy, that’s a bad age), Pitfall II, and Montezuma’s Revenge on the Commodore 64 (actually my first introduction to a development almost comparable to Metroid). Of course, there were many adventure packs on the NES, and while some were a little clearer about what to do next, games like Castlevania II : In Simon’s Quest, you had to go to one of the Nintendo Power editions or a friendly NES game consultant for help.
As the video game industry has matured, some may argue that games, in an attempt to make them more accessible, have become too simple, and even open-world games often have a sense of linearity thanks to mission objectives and other icons that appear on the game map with arrows telling you where to go next. Mystery and magic have kind of evaporated over the years, and I think that’s why games like Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda : Breathing outside has become so popular lately. They throw you into the world with little explanation and let you go off on your own. For many old school players it was refreshing, and that’s exactly what La Moulana 1 and 2 are about: There is a valuable hidden outlet for the switch.
The Mulana caught my attention as a WiiWare game, but when it came out in the fall of 2012, I was already buying a Wii U and saving money on a bunch of launch titles, so the game kind of fell by the wayside. I’ve heard over the years that it’s a great game, but it’s extremely difficult. Not only is the game challenging, but there are extremely obscure clues that you must decipher to know what to do next. Add in random traps that can kill you instantly, and a host of other hazards, and you get a game that doesn’t really stand up. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not looking for challenging games. I like to have fun and enjoy a fairly high difficulty level, but due to my time constraints, I am often frustrated when a game has boring game mechanics that artificially drive up the difficulty of the game.
Although I solved La Mulana’s puzzles and boring bosses indistinctly, the feeling of having played those classic games I mentioned earlier began to come back, and I felt drawn to try again and again. As I walked through the ruins, I quickly discovered that there were many different paths. Every time I got injured in a game, I learned from my mistakes and was willing to try again. The maze of rooms quickly imprinted itself on my memory, and I learned the layout pretty well – which is necessary, because the card system in this game is pretty terrible.
In fact, many things in this game are not slated to happen, and that is probably intentional. Is that the right thing to do? I’m not sure that making a game intentionally stupid is a good development strategy, but for some reason I was able to ignore these problems the more I played. Take the example of jumping – honestly, it sucks. You can’t get up or down the stairs, and it’s strangely difficult to jump onto the platform above you. These quirks aren’t for everyone, but if you grew up in the 8-bit era, you’re probably fine with them.
Graphically, the game is very pixelated and reminiscent of how we imagined the original Nintendo game to be 30 years ago The graphics are actually a little better, although not very attractive on the big screen You will definitely enjoy the images more if you play in manual mode. The ruins you explore are quite detailed though, and there are a number of different environments to enjoy as you progress. Enemies are quite small and lack much detail, although some patterns are much larger. The music is much better than the graphics, with some really great songs.
La-Mulana 2 was released on PC in 2018, so it definitely has a head start in the graphics department, and I actually liked the presentation of this game better because it was more in the 16-bit style. In the first title you played the role of an archaeologist, and this time you play his daughter. What is cool is that you start the game in the same small village as in the first part. In fact, whether you walk left or right, the entire opening section is almost identical. Even if you go to the ruins, you will find the same areas, but they are under construction and the graphics have also been improved. Soon you will discover another realm where you will have to explore completely new areas. So don’t worry that the sequel is a complete remake – even if it borrows some of the same artifacts and abilities.
The gameplay of both games consists of running and jumping as usual, and your characters are equipped with a whip to destroy all kinds of enemy creatures like snakes and bats. You can talk to a small number of NPCs and use the money you find in banks and defeat enemies to buy new items and weapons to help you on your quest. You even have a computer in the submenu where you can download special software that gives you access to more features. If you like getting lost and trying to figure out where to go next, you’ll feel right at home here.
The Mulana 1 and 2: The Hidden Treasures edition is available as a physical package from participating retailers for about $60. While it comes with a lot of nice physical accessories, like a soundtrack CD and an art book, it’s a bit expensive for the games it contains. You can choose the digital channel to save money. There is a lot of fun in this collection, and if you like the Metrodvania genre and difficult and mysterious games, then this collection is for you. Despite some gaps, I kept coming back to this book, and you probably will too. Oh, and since there are no more Game Advisors, you might find this free official guide to La Moulana very useful! You’re welcome to join us.
La Mulana 1 and 2: Hidden Treasure Edition Overview
- Charts – 7/10
- Sound – 8.5/10
- Gameplay – 7/10
- Last call – 9/10
Final thoughts: GOOD PAGE
The Mulana 1 and 2: Hidden Treasures Edition should appeal to players who love the challenging Metroidvania-style gameplay and mysterious clues. Those who grew up in the 80s and loved the adventures of the NES are the target. Get ready for dark puzzles, tons of deadly traps and terrifying enemies!
Craig has been involved in the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently an editor and contributor to Age of Games.
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