Fox n Forests Preview – Charming 16-Bit Platformer Takes Cues From the Classics

Fox n Forests Preview

When it comes to retro styled games 16-bit is as hot as ever and really, why shouldn’t it be? It happens to sit right in that Goldilocks zone, just the right amount of pixels to give that warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia, yet look good too while it’s at it. So a little more than a year ago when I came across a Kickstarter campaign for Fox n Forests I couldn’t resist it’s SNES styled charm. Originally scheduled for September of this year the game did see a minor push back of its expected release to this Winter. No big deal, but in the meantime the team at Bonus Level Entertainment released a demo to enjoy, so let’s have a look at what the future has in store.

The big hook in the gameplay is that the hero, Rick the Fox, has the ability to switch between two different seasons. This opens up some real possibilities with in-level puzzles and exploration as well. It’s a pretty neat mechanic and one that doesn’t seem out of place in that era of gaming either. In both levels the switch was from summer to winter time. Giant gaps of water now become cross-able and leaves that block the way disappear in the snow. However the changes aren’t for an unlimited amount of time, there is mana to be concerned with, luckily there is no need to really use it, in the demo at least, for an extended period of time.

There is a healthy bit of exploration to the levels as well. Each stage has five seeds to find and one crystal hidden away in it. It took me a few runs to find all of them but it was fun exploring the stages, getting all the collectibles requires ample usage of that season switching ability. The level design fits right in place with the 16-bit era as well, so be sure to search everywhere, especially behind waterfalls. You may even need to dive down a well.


“So what about that 16-bit look? It’s nothing less than amazing.” 

However accessing those hidden areas isn’t just about switching seasons either. Rick’s weapon has a few tricks as well. It’s a true multi-tool, part bow, part melee weapon. That bow has a few different types of shots which, besides defeating enemies can be used to reveal hidden platforms by shooting a target with the proper skill shot. There is a lot more to each level than there initially seems, but a thorough investigation will reveal much much more.

As for the melee usage, that is a tad different. When standing or moving at ground level it is a bow. Outside of that, every other attack will be melee. That equates to no jumping shots, melee only, but also no standing strikes either. The Kickstarter campaign made mention that it was a special kind of 2 in 1 weapon. Unless this is something that is integral to the story as opposed to just being special because it doubles up as two different types of weapons, then it might need to be examined some more. It feels odd to be standing still and not have a melee option available. Maybe it’s just something hardwired in my brain that tells me, short range equals melee, anything else bow. It does take a little getting use to.

fox n forests top screen

So what about that 16-bit look? It’s nothing less than amazing. One of the things I like most from the era is that for the most part games were still rather vibrant and colorful. There is no shortage of that here and even in the far more graveyard setting the colors still, manage to pop out at you. It really is easy on the eyes, the art team did a great job here. The same goes for the music. What I heard was good and I could even pick out the Zelda-esque portions of the tune. It’s a call back to those popular titles, yet is still original unto itself.

A demo is of course still early work, so there is no telling what may change. There were potions involved for example, but they didn’t seem to be too important to these levels and probably more of use for bosses. But overall I like what I see. It feels like it has all the makings of a game that can deliver not just on the nostalgic look of the era, but the essence as well. It’s a hard thing to do but Fox n Forests has the potential to really pull that off.

***PC key provided by the publisher***