There’s been a gaping android-sized hole in the videogame market for a long while now, one that gets larger with each passing year of Capcom’s reluctance to please a very vocal group of consumers. We call it the “Mega Man Hole.” Joining Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 in its effort to fill this chasm through crowd-funding is Battery Staple Games’ “roguelike multiplayer action platformer,” Echoes of Eridu.
This early preview version of the game, purportedly representing 20-25% of the final product, wears its inspiration like a badge of honour; the chiptune music is a perfect throwback to the SNES era and is just as infectious, clawing its 16-bit hooks into your brain and demanding your nostalgic attention. The early artwork of the game is similarly reminiscent of this era, though it’s wonderful to see a game proving that deriving inspiration from the timeframe’s art does not require being beholden to it. Echoes of Eridu’s visuals capture the essence without relying on a pixelised art style designed to tug on nostalgia, resulting in a closer representation of how we fondly remember the games through the lens of time.
What exactly does “roguelike multiplayer action platformer” mean, though? Battery Staple Games summarise it by saying “Take one part Mega Man X and one part roguelike goodness. Add multiplayer,” and that really is the best way to put it. Echoes of Eridu does a great job of it, too; despite adding elements to the formula, it treats the action platformer genre with a huge amount of fidelity that borders on reverence.
The game has a fantastic amount of tactility to the controls, reacting to inputs almost as well as the notoriously responsive Super Meat Boy in very similar ways. Basic acts like jumping give a huge sense of control, the only issue at this stage of development being an off-balance weight to the characters.
The platforming itself continues the game’s faithfulness to the genre with a ton of classic platforming puzzles. For instance, there are blue platforms fading in and out of existence, egging you on toward the ostensible rewards at the end as they get trickier and occasionally bringing your android’s wall-sliding ability – itself used in a ton of puzzles – into things. The preview began to repeat these quite quickly, though it’s safe to assume there’ll be plenty more variety in the final version.
It is, after all, a roguelike. Your android has one life with which to complete its journey through these randomised levels, two themes of which are present in the preview: Lava – or jungle – infested space stations. These are well designed and vibrant, allowing for such inspired enemy designs as a Cthulhu-like hybrid of machine and flora.
Items are also randomised and locked inside crates including the speed-boosting ninja sash, life granting heart containers, and giant shurikens, allowing for the genre’s trademark divergent-gameplay-based narrative. In an interesting diversion from the roguelike norm, however, these persist between playthroughs of the game.
There are two playable characters present in Echoes of Eridu: Nina and Ace. Nina is the more traditional option, an android with a laser-ball-firing gun-arm that is unabashedly given the moniker of “N-Buster.” Ace is the Zero to Nina’s Mega Man, a laser sword in his hand.
The mechanics and balance of the characters definitely require some work. Ace is far too strong in his current form, his sword having much too large of a spread that can often hit enemies right above his head. On the other hand, Nina is handicapped by the N-Buster which fires in a very narrow line immediately in front of her. She also can’t crouch, rendering her completely unable to hit certain low-flying enemies, of which there are a lot.
Echoes of Eridu’s uncompromising combination of genres is an incredibly natural one, the two complementing each other without sacrifice. Already compelling in its unfinished state, we’re certainly hoping that Battery Staple Games get to realize the deep potential of this game through a successful crowd-funding campaign.