At some point in the nebulous past, I came across a tweet stating ‘Flinthook’, a rogue-lite with glorious pixel graphics, a grappling hook, laser gun, and Max Payne-esque slow-mo, was “Nintendo Good”.
And so, reviews unseen and trailer watched, I trusted this Twitter random, bought the game on my Xbox One, and gosh darn it, that stranger on the Internet was right. Flinthook *is* Nintendo Good.
The log-line pitch for Flinthook is basically Bionic Commando (except the grappling hook is actually fun) meets Mega Man meets Rogue Legacy. In space. And upgrades. The premise finds you selecting various, randomly generated enemy ships to infiltrate, all with a boss fight and precious skull tokens as your reward. You need to gain a certain number of these tokens – by completing a certain number of levels in a row – to unlock a boss battle and progress to the game’s next series of challenges and bosses.
Of course you also unlock various perks and bonuses, like increased slow-mo time, bouncy shots, health and EXP upgrades, and so on. The gang’s all here, as they say.
This is all handled deftly and with care; you never blame the controls nor does the game slow down or force a rage quit due to BS. The progression can be hard – as you seemingly need to collect those skull tokens in a row – you can’t fail or turn your console off – otherwise you start again, and the way you apply upgrades, via an expandable EXP bar, seems a little too cumbersome for its own good.
But that’s no matter, because, like Mr. Twitter up there said, this game is *Nintendo* good. What’s that mean? Quality. Attention to detail. A subtle charm that welcomes, but doesn’t command, your attention. It literally feels like a late-era SNES classic that took risks and tried things way ahead of its time.
The difficulty will knock your socks off, sure, as this is a little bullet-hell-y, but learning to dodge enemy fire by darting around a given room with your grappling hook and eyes peeled is part of the fun.
Its simply marvelous. A game you can find flaws in, sure, but the base product is so endearing and so good and chalk-full of flat-out quality and personality, there is really not much of a point in doing so. Yeah, progression is weird and the game is tough; but man, when a game this good is tough and weird, it is entirely forgivable.
Basically, if this game looks like its for you, it is.
Due to a relatively ‘meh’ 7/10 on Steam and a shocking lack of buzz at the time of its release on other platforms, I found myself weary that this game would go unloved and unsung – even the Kotaku article only had 18 comments..
Most of those comments? Bring it to the Switch.
And so it came to pass – the game is out on The Nintendo Switch March 9th. Thankfully, due to this impending release, perhaps it’s time for Flinthook to find its second, louder, chorus, and here I am singing.
An advantage of this gig – other than free games (though I did pay for Flinthook) – is you sometimes stumble across hidden gems and passed-over would be fan favorites. Flinthook is such a game. In a world where Rogue Legacy never existed, and gamers at-large were not suffering from rogue-like fatigue, Flinthook would be spoken in the same breath as Meat Boy, Tower Fall, and perhaps…Mario.