Okay, I’m going to preface this with the following statement: “I am NOT the target audience for games like this, games in this genre as a whole even. Because of that, I, personally, cannot give this game the seal, regardless of how good the game is in it’s own genre. So please read the review and see what you think about the game instead of just looking to see if it gets the seal or not. And I will be clear right here and now about this, I absolutely hate almost every single retro platformer and generally retro game as a whole.”
Now onto the review, you play as a purple character that reminds me of a child version of the California Raisins, like from the beginning videos before movies on the big screen. Some of you… well many of you probably don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m old, the videos before movies at movie theaters use to have some videos about the snacks and stuff. One of them was about walking talking raisins and the only ones I can think of are the California Raisins. They aren’t shown anymore as far as I know. Anyways, the baddie of the game calls you the pink guy, even though you are clearly purple. You have gone treasure hunting, found the three Eternity Crystals, well the bad guy has apparently been tracking you and it steals them from your raisin-y ass. You immediately steal it back but the ship explodes and you’re sent to the planet below. It’s up to you to find the crystals so EVIL doesn’t get a hold of them because crystal has the power of one of the three guardians of the universe. Who are big chested uhhh things or some sort.
The whole game is you hopping on the heads of enemies a la Mario, or throwing/shooting things at them instead. Some enemies it’s hard to jump on their heads so throwing/shooting is better. You get coins from kicking ten bells of shit out of the enemies which is used in vending machines to buy either ammo for the various items you can attack with or for power-ups which are mostly regenerative items for your juice or health meters. Your health meter, like all retro games doesn’t recharge, that’s what adds to the difficulty, they’re big brains like that, so when it runs out you die, if you fall off the screen you die as well, though not many levels have parts that let that happens, and if you run out of oxygen you die a la Sonic. You start off with I believe five lives, you can pick up more in levels, collect pearls in bonus levels, or even outright buy them from some vending machines. Juice is, well literal actually in this game, you pick up fruit and when you get enough fruit you can enter juiced mode. Juiced mode makes you invincible, unless you’re hit by an insta-kill enemy or fall off the map, it lets you walk into enemies and kill them instantly, if the enemy is killable anyways, and automatically collect nearby coins. It takes a lot of fruit collectables to use it though, because of that you’ll only be able to use it one or two times per level usually. Other than that you collect diamonds to give to some shifty guy, after you collect three you can turn them in and go to a bonus level. The bonus levels are timed and you just have to collect all the pearls in it, for every twenty-five you collect you get an extra life. There’s various thrown weapons and shooting weapons, I kind of stuck with the basic acorn because you got a fuckton of them. I only used weapons for flying enemies or ones attached to ceilings because otherwise I’d rather just conserve ammo instead because I’m one of THOSE types of players. The only enemies you can damage with your weapons are enemies you can damage with your jumps, and this also excludes bosses, so no cheesing it by shoving acorns up their ass all day sadly. There are some unkillable enemies, some of them can insta-kill as mentioned prior, but most of them just do some damage and can’t be killed. I don’t like that in games, I wanna kill the things that hurt me, I think that’s a normal human response, it hits me I whack it, I think that’s fair. Retro games don’t care about fair though so…
Also upon completely levels and/or collecting crap, no idea what crap, but something unlocks masks and hats you can equip your character with to give them a little more personality. They’re cute, no idea what caused them to unlock though which was maddening. I don’t think you just pick them up in levels, but with all the chests I jumped on to open… I have no idea.
Now, I’m not big on platformers, the only ones I’ve liked were the Super Nintendo Mario games and the first maybe three Sonic games for the Sega Genesis. Platformers have never been my strong suit, being blind and all, but I know what’s required to make them good platformers even if I just don’t get my rocks off to them like most people. You need tight controls, you want proper response times, you don’t want to feel floaty, and you don’t want to slide every fucking where. Platforming is good in this, no not good, fantastic, not quite perfect but damn near. The controls are super tight, you push something the character moves. The only time there is a slight issue with the controls is when you have to pick up items. In every level there are a few items you have to pick up and carry around from one place to another in order to use the item. The controls for that just aren’t very smooth, it’s really easy to accidentally drop the item, which I’ve done a lot, which I think is more just down to the controls they have listed for it, I use an analogue stick, and you can pick up and drop stuff by pushing either up, down, or B which is also the throw/shoot button. Since I’m using the analogue stick, I tend to push upwards when I’m jumping because I’m used to doing that in games, which leads to said issue. If you play with a D-pad and play a lot of retro games this might not actually be an issue for you. There’s absolutely no lag, at least that I ever felt, which is good as there are some areas that require some moderate levels of precision. You start off with a ‘double jump’ which isn’t like you’d expect, you jump up and you can do this little mini jump that just adds a little bit extra, and it feels so perfect, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to high or you’re being screwed out of the extra jump distance. I never felt like I was sliding, granted there are some winter levels, and I didn’t get to them. I’d expect them to have some slide at that point, which I mean everyone expects that and it’s fine in those situations.
Retro games have their own set of stuff people care about: graphics, audio, and game design. I can tell you what this works with and doesn’t work with for everything but audio. I wasn’t much of a gamer until the PlayStation 2 era, I had like seven Super Nintendo games maybe, just as many Nintendo 64 games. I didn’t have a Sega, I played it at a babysitter’s house. I remember having a huge crush on her and also that we’d play Sonic the entire day really cause that’s all I ever wanted to play cause it was interesting, I wonder how she’s doing now… hmm. Anyways, so I haven’t really played the games from the time this game is emulating, so while I can tell you the graphics and design, I don’t know how the audio stacks up since I never played that generation’s games. Graphically it is, well it’s a good thing they were going for a retro style. I don’t much care for the graphics myself because I think they’re ugly honestly, however I also don’t have nostalgia for games of that period. I know that as retro games go, this thing has good retro graphics, from the color palette to character design it’s good for retro. Now, I can’t tell you if it’s top tier or just good graphically cause I have no idea how to judge that, HOWEVER, I can at least tell you I know the difference between good and bad and this one is most definitely in the good looking category for retro games. Level design is fairly forgiving, it does get a lot harder as the levels continue, and getting to the diamonds sometimes require off the beaten path stuff, but none of it is too hard, it starts to require better jumping as the game continues but it does so slowly so you actually get better at the game as you play it. The only time I feel like this isn’t the case is I played a chase scene and it was misery, it was not fun at all. I think there are more of them later on in the game. I don’t know if that kinda stuff was normal in retro games of this style, if they were and you’re used to it then it’s probably nothing. I don’t play many platformers though because I’m not good at them and they kind of piss me off because of that. Audio… well I like the music, it had a funky vibe to it and I can appreciate that, no idea how it compares to retro games, but I rather enjoyed the music which is something I rarely say cause I usually either don’t care or didn’t pay attention to music. I really noticed it in, I think, level three; I was doing the same platforming bit over and over because I’d climb up kill and enemy who always dropped some coins down at the bottom because why wouldn’t it, so I’d jump down to collect them for no reason other than that’s a thing I have to do in games, then I’d climb back up and kill the next one, drop down for the coins, and repeat. After I did that three or four times, I suddenly thought to myself I really like this music, and it took me a few more minutes before I realized, “Wait I like the music? I’m paying any attention to that? It isn’t just background stuff? The fuck is going on.” Then I stopped and actually listened to it properly and I was like hell yeah. The cave music is bitching, that funk to it is just fantastic.
So while I didn’t enjoy the game all that much myself that’s because again I don’t have nostalgia for retro games, I think that most of them are ugly and I don’t like the play style. And I’ve never been big on platformers; TPS, FPS, and RPGS are more my style. As such, I didn’t like the game, I can’t give it the seal. That said, I do know that the game has merits and that it’s pretty solid as far as retro games go. If you like retro platformers you will like this cause it’s really good, it’s just clearly not for me.
Juiced! was developed by Timothy van der Hoeven.
Point of Sale: Steam and a planned release for Switch on October 8th.
A review copy of the game was provided by the dev.
darkmikasonfire doesn’t give Juiced! the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.