The Isle of 8-bit Treasures is more or less Rogue, wrapped up and packaged with a retro look and feel that seems more at home on an NES than an iPhone. But whereas Rogue is entirely set in a dungeon world, The Isle features a number of environments to play through, including dungeons, caverns, forests and ruins, across more than 60 missions. It has a feel that's somewhat reminiscent of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon.
The game lets you choose between three different characters -- Swordsman, Witch and Hunter, each with their own gameplay characteristics. Different areas of the island game world are accessed from a central map, some areas and weapons of which are randomly generated using songs in your iTunes library as seeds. The various play areas are full of roving creatures with which you must do battle, and three different types of objects -- stones, powders and crystals -- that can be collected to enhance your capabilities. Each game area is completed when the heart shaped Valor icon is collected from the area's final floor.
The Isle brings an interesting twist on the weapons systems of most games of its sort. To the right of the on-screen play area is your vertical Weapon Reel. The Reel contains a light smattering of power icons by default and scrolls downward with each attack you perform. If a power icon appears in the window at the bottom of the Reel during an attack, your weapon delivers more damage than normal. Crystals collected along the way can be dragged onto your Weapon Reel to deliver a series of high-damage attacks in battle.
The game features colorful, whimsical, retro-inspired graphics and feels very smooth to play. But don't let the graphics fool you, this is a rather difficult / challenging game. Many's the time I've found myself slaughtered by a cartoonish enemy after just a few minutes of play. And while this presents a notable challenge, some readers in our forums lament the small number of floors in some of the levels (some just 3 or 4 deep), as compared to Rogue's far deeper dungeons. More troublesome, perhaps, is the lack of a mid-dungeon save feature. Tap out to the home screen or get on a phone call and it's back to the island map. Hopefully Tecmo will address this unfortunate omission in a future update.
Despite its shortcomings, early adopters are enjoying it on the whole. The Isle of 8-bit Treasures is an interesting new take on a solid formula and should appeal to many iPhone adventure fans. Let's hope an update will make things less frustrating for an interrupted gamer.
See our brief video of very early stages of several game areas to get a feel for the game.
App Store Link: The Isle of 8-bit Treasures, $4.99