Sole Iron Tail is a beautiful and addictive 16-bit platformer and I’m so here for it as the game does what it does so very well. It’s fun, speedy, full of momentum and highly replayable. Think Sonic the Hedgehog but he slides everywhere like a skier instead and you are close to the gaming experience.
Each level sees you play as this cute bunny/otter thingy with a giant iron tail. Pressing down means that he’ll hop on his tail and slide down the hill and this builds up speed. Keeping down pressed at the end of the hill means you’ll leap off the end like a ski jumper and hopefully land atop a new hill to slide down. The levels are designed to be like a maze of hills and slides that often interconnect either through jumps, bouncing on penguin bellies, being spanked by whale tails or by holding down a charge button to blast through breakable walls. Each level feels different and unique whilst feeling part of the same vibe and set. It’s really well thought out because when games are speedy like this they can often play themselves and Sole Iron Tail doesn’t feel like that. This is not a runner game but it does have a momentum to it that if you keep jumping at the wrong time will utterly break down and make the game feel quiet disjointed. It takes a few minutes to click and get the feeling of how to slide and bounce but after that, it’s all about the speed.
Most of the challenge in what is admittedly a short game is found in getting all the collectables. You need to find and keep 100 small golden scarves and then there are 5 big golden scarves hidden off the beaten track. It’s highly replayable and rewards you going back through levels to find different routes. This then unlocks a time trial mode and other badges for not being hit or beating certain times can unlock other additional perks too. Damage is treated interestingly in Sole Iron Tail. You’ll visibly see your tail cracking up with each hit but when you die, you don’t lose a life. Instead you lose10 of your collected scarves and its only when you run out that its game over. This is especially key when levels run as sets of two or three and the scarves carry over. I needed them for my first go at the final boss! Bosses are not very difficult but they are well thought out with fun patterns.
Graphically, I love the retro artwork. Everything runs smoothly with no screen tearing or weird blurring and the animals in the game look superb and detailed with their animations. I also wanted to shout out the soundtrack too which is vintage top tier 16-bit chiptune. These songs wouldn’t sound out of place in a Sonic game. They’re catchy and have potential iconic status in places. I also really enjoyed how each level is narrated by an onlooking animal – either one that’s been captured or an onlooker. It felt like a weird animal bedtime story and added to the games charm, which it already had in spades.
Most of all though, Sole Iron Tail is simply good fun. It rewards you with satisfying moments of glory as bounces, jumps, water skims and skids chain up at speed. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to look and feel good. It will take some level of skill to find and unlock everything. That makes the game accessible and very playable to all demographics in the platforming genre and its a game I’d definitely recommend – especially at its cheap price point.
Review copy provided by developer.
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