I always say that platforming is one of my favorite game genres. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that I (like many of you) grew up in the 80s and 90s, where Mario and Sonic reigned supreme. So, I still have quite fond memories of my platforming days, and will often review these games through rose-tinted glasses. “Emerald Shores” is a light-hearted throwback to the glory days of platforming, but how does it stack up? Are you better off just playing on the UK online slots? Or does “Emerald Shores” deliver on its heritage?
Story, as it’s usually the case with platformers, takes a bit of a backstory. For some reason you’re pals with the very-cool king, and he asks you to go help out the inhabitants of Emerald Shores, a floating island in the sky. There’s heavy emphasis on humor here, and the game as a whole doesn’t take itself too seriously. While it may work for some, I found the humor to fall flat most of the time, and the dialog more of a nuisance than something which enhanced the game.
Gameplay is where every platformer should shine, though, and “Emerald Shores” quickly puts you in action. There’s jumping on enemies (multiple times) to kill them, coins to collect, etc. Very little is done here to innovate, other than a built-in leveling-up system that, admittedly, does not much. It’s alright to not break new ground if you’re executing the genre perfectly, though: “Miles & Kilo” on the Switch is a fantastic example of a game that relies heavily on fantastic level design and tight physics to shine through the crowd.
“Emerald Shores”, on the other hand, falls a bit short here as well. The physics are a bit wonky, with hit detection particularly odd in some places. Also, even when I receive damage and “blink” on and off (the universal sign for momentary invinsibility) I keep receiving damage. What’s the point of me flashing, then? The controls are also not that tight, and the level design is such that it wants you to move slowly rather than power through a level. This may appeal to some, but the wonky physics and loose controls might bring about more frustration than enjoyment.
Finally, the art and music are serviceable but ultimately bland, with an overworld that is clearly inspired (a bit too heavily) by early Mario games, and cute but forgettable sprites.
“Emerald Shores” then, is a difficult one to judge: there is potential there, for sure. I think the concept is good and, despite not appealing to my sensibilities, the level design could have really been a highlight. But a platformer that’s ultimately let down by physics, hit detection and controls is, sadly, not a game we’d outright recommend. Maybe wait for a sale and give it a shot? It’s an alright game, one that I’d be proud if I’d made it. But it lacks a further 2-3 months of polish to truly stand out and tighten things up. It’s also cross-buy with PS4, so that’s good!
At a Glance:
- Title: Emerald Shores
- Publisher: Fordesoft
- Developer: Fordesoft
- Format: PSN Download
- Memory Card Space Required: 90mb
- Cross Buy: Yes (PS4)
- PlayStation TV Compatible: TBC