There’s no shortage of modern designs that evoke the look and sound of late 1980s games. Not so much as those games actually were, but as gamers fondly remember them – with bigger characters, better animation, and smoother gameplay than any 8-bit system could handle. Are they neo-retro? New 8 bit? Traps to nostalgia? Whatever the name of the movement, We need protectors was there at the start, with protect me knight in 2010 and We need protectors in 2016. And now Gotta Protectors: Chariot of Darkness arrives on the Switch so thick with a retro attachment that the initial screen mimics a fuzzy TV signal, while the game itself wastes a few screens before its protagonist princess shouts that her castle is moving “faster than a hedgehog when dealing with the explosion”. If it triggers a smile of recognition, We need protectors is for you.
But what about gamers who don’t have fond memories or excessive fixations around that particular era of video games? What does mean Gotta Protectors: Chariot of Darkness suggest them? It turns out a lot.
The kingdom of Magicadia is one of those unfortunate kingdoms rarely besieged by the forces of evil, as Princess Lola and her eight faithful guardians learn at the opening of Gotta Protectors: Chariot of Darkness. As in previous games, the princess must be defended against onslaught of hostile enemies, but their new quest brings an offensive thrust. Instead of sitting in her castle, Lola travels it along the train tracks to reach the enemy stronghold. And then she happily slams her fortress into the enemy castle until her target explodes in a mushroom cloud. Princess Lola is clearly a go-getter.
To defend the princess on her castle-train journey, the player chooses three of the Gotta Protectors and fends off a furious horde of creatures. By changing a simple order, the heroes cover familiar archetypes with humorous touches; the close-range fighter, spellcasting mage, and long-range archer play it relatively straight, but the ninja speeds up with just a mask and loincloth, the unflatteringly named Oldguy advances with a toy horse bolted around his waist, and the shaman-like oracle wears a candle headband and a constant expression of guilty, wild-eyed terror.
There is an undeniable charm to the mixture of simple appearances and intricate details in We need protectors. It’s there in the stages themselves, which begin with basic tasks as the heroes carry the princess and fend off enemies. But then the opposition expands from pushover goblins to include swooping bats, bomb-throwing bears, deformed succubi, buzzing reapers, cluster zombies, and the occasional giant crab or equally oversized creature. .
The stages develop in the same way, gradually introducing switches to change the path of the castle, doors that must be unlocked, pits that only a hero can cross, and other gadgets that turn each level into a fast-paced puzzle . It is therefore appropriate that the heroes have more than their attacks. If you want to play defensively, you can erect barriers to slow down enemies, who will be busy pouncing on roadblocks while you plan your next move or simply punch your foes. And if the barricades are damaged, you can repair them by attacking them, just like in real life.
We need protectors is calculated in the same way in its appearances. Characters and enemies are small and simple in design, but everything is done so that the game can cram as many characters into the playing field as possible without a hint of slowdown. It’s easy to lose sight of a hero in the chaos of mobs of goblins, glowing minotaurs, flying arrows, flashing spells, and the constant cheering of the princess and her locomotive castle. Yet even if you are confused, the game offers quick solutions. When in doubt, mashing the buttons will usually allow you to pass. Maybe a little too often.
Hitting attacks against hundreds of enemies per stage is repetitive at first, but then again We need protectors build things. With three characters on your team, it’s best to go for the variety of standard attackers, long-range projectile experts, and one of the less easily cataloged characters like the Oracle or the Prince. Each mission earns money which can be used to improve your defense, your attack power, the strength of your barricades or the power of the princess herself. Unfortunately, these stat boosts disappear after each four-part mission, dismantling any tiers you’ve purchased.
Long-term satisfaction is elsewhere. Save your money and you can upgrade real character abilities in a shop run by fairies. Each Gotta Protectors hero has multiple in-stock playstyles that continue once purchased, and you’re free to create a custom profile with your favorite acquired moves. This brings great variety to the gameplay, even though you’re only allowed three characters in battle.
We need protectors rarely lacking in cute style, whether it’s the pleasingly detailed graphics assembled by programmers with decades of experience, the punchy soundtrack of industry legend Yuzo Koshiro, or just quibbling characters. Princess Lola and her companions tackle everything from sequel trappings to self-censorship jokes, and during play they’ll discover little game cartridges with oddly familiar titles like “Balloon Fright” and “Jujitsu X.”
Even the interstitials are peppered with callbacks: pausing the game brings magazine mockups, and the title cards show fictional and often nonsensical imagery. fan art (including a track apparently by the singer and The wizard star Jenny Lewis). It’s a constant stream of jokes, but it’s never an empty reference parade like Loan player one or Hi Score Girl. Instead, We need protectors is reminiscent of Game Center CX and its DS titles, paying constant and humorous homage to an era while remaining self-contained.
The game openly invites multiplayer at all times, with three spare slots at the top of the screen even when playing solo. It’s only more hectic with other characters on the playing field, and that’s totally the point. Having other heroes to help each other out and annoy fixes the occasional monotonous attack, and online play felt smooth as of this writing.
Gotta Protectors: Chariot of Darkness looks carefully and forcefully back to the days of the NES and the Famicom, and it’s not an uncommon lens these days. Still, there’s a lot more to the game than the overloaded trappings of an 8-bit game too technically impressive to have actually existed at the time. It’s refreshingly complex and relentlessly charming despite some repetition, earning it a far-reaching recommendation even for gamers who won’t get the joke in an NES-like cartridge called “Hoagie’s Aisle.” .