A Hole New World Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Release Date: March 1st 2018
Price as of Article: $9.99 USD, £8.99 GBP
Being nostalgic for classic retro video games is not a new thing. As we all get older we all crave for something in our past and there have been several highly successful games that have managed to capture that retro feel while bringing in modern standards. For me, the perfect example of this is Shovel Knight, but there are other candidates and I suspect a few people would put forth A Hole New World.
As with many a retro title, the story of A Hole New World is basically told in the introduction. The world has been separated into two; a world of good and a world of evil. Naturally, the evil world manages to spill back into the good world and take over. You are known as the Potion Master who sets out to save the day by collecting energy crystals that have the power to defeat evil. Or something like that. The story goes by so quickly and inconsequentially you don’t really need to pay attention to it. I will give them credit for doing an opening storyboard which is more than many classic games did, but you won’t be playing this one for the story elements for sure.
The soundtrack is pretty awesome with its retro vibes. An interesting addition to the music is the fact there’s a choice between a retro 8-bit soundtrack and a more modern take. I actually really like both and I found myself switching between the two regularly. I wouldn’t call it classic or anything but it’s definitely of a higher standard than I was expecting and it’s one of the best aspects of the game.
Visually the game is okay if you’re into the very retro 8-bit art styles. I’m not sure how in keeping it is with what the NES could do, but it’s definitely held itself back in order to look as authentic as possible. I think the main character, the Potion Master, looks very cool. His design is really well done as a sprite and he definitely stands out amongst the crowd of retro heroes.
The exterior backgrounds are full of depth and have parallax scrolling with its layers, something definitely not possible on the system at the time. It adds a lot to the game compared to how it would look if everything was static. It’s all personal opinion but I like the retro-ness to A Hole New World.
Performance was pretty decent for the most part. There were no crashes or anything, no slow down when the action became too hectic, it was pretty smooth in that area. I did have the occasional issue when coming into the game from sleep mode though. It seems like I took the game by surprise and it struggled to wake up properly for about 10 seconds or so. Not a major issue but a little odd, nonetheless.
The gameplay for A Hole New World is kind of a mix between Mega Man, Castlevania and even a bit of Ghosts ’n Goblins. That’s a high standard to live up to.
As a side-scrolling platforming action game you move left to right kill enemies and make it to the boss at the end of the stage. It’s pretty standard in that department but A Hole New World does a few things to try to make it stand out more. The first thing is the two worlds concept. In each of the levels there are two planes of existence. The good world and the evil world. You’ll begin in the normal world in which, as you would expect, everything is normal. As you make your way through the level you’ll notice plenty of holes in the floor. These are not pits of death, instead they will take you to the evil world. This is where the world is twisted and even more full of enemies. Worst of all, it’s upside down.
If there’s one thing that can instantly put me off any game, it’s an upside down part. I’m just not into that as I find them more of an annoyance rather than an interesting gameplay mechanic. Now, actually, A Hole New World was probably the least painful upside down experience that I can think of especially when it’s for such an extended period of time. I’d rather it have been the right way up though.
As the Potion Master your weapon at hand is obviously a potion. I found this to be a little on the useless side thanks to the arch it takes after being thrown. It was often useless for enemies low to the ground. After defeating bosses however, you will get more and more attacks, Mega Man style. You’ll have one that can shoot a vertical lightning shot, some bouncing balls that switch elemental types between fire and ice after every bounce. You can flick between all of your attacks types with the shoulder buttons and, unlike Mega Man, they don’t have their own energy bar so you can use them as much as you like.
The level design in A Hole New World is fairly decent. It starts off very basic, but over the course of the handful of stages, the developers definitely get just a little more adventurous. The second world starts to become more integral as well as them becoming more sprawling and exploration driven. It started to develop into something I didn’t expect.
One thing I very do much appreciate in A Hole New world is that there are no respawning enemies, something which plagued NES games and was probably the biggest annoyance about games from that era. The developers of A Hole New World made a great choice. Once an enemy is dead, it’s dead for good.
As far as difficulty goes the game doesn’t start off too bad but the last couple of stages are more annoying than challenging. Games like Shovel Knight provide a solid challenge but they’re always doable and you always feel like you can conquer it. A Hole New World however, gives you challenge by throwing dozens of enemies at you at once while platforming upside down. It goes about adding difficulty in the wrong way in my opinion. It doesn’t help that A Hole New World takes lessons from Castlevania when getting hit as the knock back provided is borderline obnoxious. After really digging the game in the first 3 stages, really by the last stage I started to enjoy it much less and it really tested my patience if I actually wanted to stick with it or not.
The game is fairly generous with its lives and checkpoints system, much more lenient that the games it’s inspired by. You have three lives and every time you perish, you will be revived exactly where you left off. If you lose all of your lives then it will send you back to the last checkpoint. This was a good move by the developers. Had it not been so nice in this regard I probably would have given up the game around halfway through. The one exception to the rule is when you’re facing the bosses. You don’t get revived while fighting the bosses, instead you’re always sent to the checkpoint outside of the boss room so you have to do the boss from scratch. It makes sense, otherwise it would have been too easy to cheese the bosses by using all your lives without consequence.
As for value you’re looking at $9.99 or £8.99 and in my mind for a 2 hour play time with this kind of simplicity, it’s on the edge as to whether the value is okay or not. It’s obvious there’s a lot of love gone into creating a classic feeling game but I don’t know if it’s quite there. I would have preferred if it was a few pounds cheaper and that would have made me feel much better about its value.
For those interested A Hole New World will take up a surprisingly large 856MB of storage. No, I have no idea where the memory goes either.
Nice music options
Convincing retro feel
Depth to backgrounds
Upside down sections