In the past few years, a handful of indie developers have opted to develop games for older platforms that have become industry icons such as the Sega Dreamcast, Super NES and the SEGA Mega Drive, also known as the Genesis in North America. Funded via Kickstarter in November 2016 by newcomers Big Evil Corporation, Tanglewood is the latest of these projects, which has seen a simultaneous release on PC and the SEGA Mega Drive.
Like many platformers from the early 90’s, the plot of Tanglewood is told without a single line of dialogue. The story focuses on a young fox-like creature named Nymm, who is separated from his friends and family after he stays outside past sunset. Unable to return to his home because of the dangers that inhabit the night hours, Nymm must rely on his natural abilities and the friendly supernatural beings that will help him survive until sunrise. Keeping with the theme of the retro aesthetic, there is little to no exposition within the game or description of the control mechanics, so you will need to read the included digital manual if you are curious as to the finer details. Many older games will revel in this trip down memory lane, whereas players from recent generations may be waiting for the tutorial messages that will never materialise.
Tanglewood is primarily a 2D platformer, with inspiration drawn from titles such as James Pond, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. In order to progress through each level, Nymm must come to the aid of mysterious multicoloured creatures called Fuzzls. By helping them return to their designated stumps, Nymm will be able to change the colour of his fur and gain their special abilities. Whether it is gliding like Bubsy, stopping time like Max Caulfield or hiding from enemies like Solid Snake, each ability brings something unique to Tanglewood’s gameplay, without feeling like a simple re-skin or a duplicated skill set.