8-Bit Adventures 2 Review – Scratching The Retro Itch

8-Bit Adventures 2 Review - Scratching The Retro Itch


The “neo-retro” gaming scene continues to thrive, with numerous games drawing inspiration from and emulating the style of classics from the past. While many of these games blend modern and retro game design, only a few manage to stand out as truly special amidst the sea of nostalgia-driven titles.

One such game is 8-Bit Adventures 2 by Critical Games. Despite its simple title, this game exudes creativity and pays homage to retro RPGs from the NES, SNES, and PS1 eras while offering a modernized experience. It not only serves as a love letter to beloved classics like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger but also distinguishes itself from other modern retro titles, potentially earning a place alongside the very games that inspired it.

8-Bit Adventures 2 acts as a direct sequel, yet newcomers like myself can jump right into the game thanks to its recap of key events and characters from the first installment. Players assume the role of Charlie, an impulsive young man aspiring to be like his hero, the thief from the previous game (whom I named Bessie). Like many traditional RPG protagonists, Charlie begins his adventure asleep instead of studying for a test. He was too preoccupied with warrior training, foolishly optimistic about his impending test results.

While 8-Bit Adventures 2 employs various RPG tropes that were once overused in the ’90s, this actually enhances the game’s authenticity in emulating classic RPGs. The well-written dialogue elevates these tropes beyond mere imitation, integrating them into the characters, plot, and more.

The game’s story, action, and exploration are all enhanced by fantastic writing, creating a certain charm that is difficult to pinpoint. 8-Bit Adventures 2 manages to establish its own world and characters while remaining a heartfelt tribute to classic JRPGs. Unlike other games that mimic the style of classics without offering anything unique, 8-Bit Adventures 2 genuinely invests players in Charlie’s fate and the adventures of his friends.

If you are familiar with old-school JRPGs like Final Fantasy, you will feel right at home with 8-Bit Adventures 2. The gameplay involves exploring diverse environments, engaging in conversations with characters, battling beasts, solving puzzles, and gaining experience to acquire new skills and spells. Following the game’s initial dungeon, Charlie embarks on a stealth mission to stow away aboard a ship bound for a new land. This cleverly breaks the gameplay flow, introducing a different pace while propelling the plot forward. It’s a refreshing and enjoyable side adventure, a component that many classic games often reserve for later stages or overlook entirely.

Combat in 8-Bit Adventures 2 follows the classic turn-based RPG formula. Players can utilize skills, unique abilities, items, defend, or attempt to escape, all while facing a well-balanced difficulty curve. I never felt overwhelmed in the early stages nor did it become a cakewalk in the later parts of the game. Although I faced defeat on multiple occasions, it allowed me to analyze where my strategies failed and adjust accordingly to overcome challenging sections.

In terms of visuals, 8-Bit Adventures 2 achieves its intended goals. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel graphically, it doesn’t try to. The game maintains a nostalgic look reminiscent of the NES era or the period when SNES and PS1 games embraced similar graphics while utilizing more advanced hardware. Every element is well-designed, and despite its dedication to paying homage to classic RPGs, 8-Bit Adventures 2 manages to present memorable character designs that possess their own unique charm.

The game’s soundtrack truly shines, evoking emotional responses from the players. Fast-paced action music fills players with excitement and anticipation during battles, while slower and more somber tracks accompany poignant moments in the game. Even the stealth section mentioned earlier features a perfectly fitting slow and mysterious musical arrangement. Kudos to Sebastian Cruz, the game’s composer.

Perhaps due to its literal title or the fatigue associated with modern retro games, I initially approached 8-Bit Adventures 2 with different expectations. I thought it would be a run-of-the-mill retro RPG lacking any unique features of its own. I anticipated growing tired of it or struggling to stay motivated to play further. However, I am thrilled to admit that I was completely wrong on all accounts. The game successfully stands as both a loving tribute to classic RPGs and a terrific experience in its own right.

This is a game for every JRPG enthusiast, for those who thought they would never fall in love with another entry in the genre. It caters to players who find themselves replaying Chrono Trigger or Illusion of Gaia for the hundredth time in search of that thrilling JRPG experience. 8-Bit Adventures 2 takes you on a grand adventure, scratches that retro itch, and offers something more. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

8-Bit Adventures 2 was reviewed on PC with a code kindly provided by the developer.

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