Remember Bubble Bobble? Arguably, one of the finest platformers out there, it still remains one of my all time favorites. It was an immensely simple concept, merely requiring you to survive a single screen full of enemies and platforms, but it was a potent combo. A mixture of speedy reactions and quick thinking were essential to success. The original Drop Wizard was a homage to that and now Drop Wizard Tower is much the same, being a fine tribute to an even finer game.
Like Bubble Bobble, the objective is simple. You’re attempting to ascend 50 floors of traps, enemies, and platforms, in a bid to rescue an ancient egg. The catch is that you’re fairly limited with how you go about that. Your wizard is limited in terms of how he can move. He runs automatically, firing one projectile in the direction he lands on a platform. He doesn’t fire again until he falls onto another platform. All you can affect is which direction the wizard runs in initially, and whether to activate a special spell or not.
Given that you have to shoot an enemy first before running into it, and sending it scurrying off to take out others, this is a tricky but vital mechanic to learn. It’s all too easy early on to treat Drop Wizard Tower like a regular platformer, leaving you keen to stomp on heads. Of course, it’d be too easy if it were like a typical game of this kind, which is what makes it interesting.
As you learn to adapt to this different method of doing things, new elements and environments emerge. There are ice surfaces that cause you to skid and move rapidly around. Similarly, there are watery areas causing you to run much slower. Timing is everything in such sequences, ensuring you stand any chance of survival. Boss battles are also available, requiring more effective strategies than before, and some pinpoint accurate moves.
It can be tough, especially when adjusting to how things play out, but it’s never cheap. Your success is almost solely dictated by your ability to react quickly and adapt. Like its inspiration, it’s almost a form of puzzle to deduce how best to approach each stage so it’s welcoming that the action doesn’t kick off until you start moving first.
Fortunately, some help is also available in the form of some rudimentary RPG elements. You can unlock different wizards, each with their own special moves. It’ll take a while given you have to use the premium currency of gems to do so, but it’s worth working towards. Each of them changes the dynamic a suitable amount. There’s also a basic levelling up mechanic that has you unlocking power-ups and bonuses such as an extra life or a bit more speed. It’s simple stuff that doesn’t fundamentally change the concept of the game, but it’s enough to maintain your interest.
Crucially, Drop Wizard Tower is fun because of the nostalgia element. It’s so much like arcade platformers of old, that 80s fans will lap it up with enthusiasm. That means its difficulty curve is just as tough as back then, but it’s worth pursuing. With its simple to learn one-handed controls, it’s the kind of thing that lends itself to commuter play sessions. Just don’t expect to beat it any time too soon.