In my side-quest to play more Metroidvania games (which I didn’t realise was a side-quest but it seems to have become one in recent months), I was looking through lists of well-regarded, eShop-available, games in the genre. Listed frequently was Alwa’s Legacy, so I didn’t buy that as I found it was a sequel to Alwa’s Awakening which was about £2.50 so I bought that instead.
And I’m glad I did because although it does nothing special, it’s a solid and enjoyable game with some unusual ideas for the genre. Firstly, it’s built with a NES aesthetic (in fact, there is a NES version which was developed recently) with limited colours and two button controls. Nothing new there, but it’s a good example of how to do that well.
Any Metroidvania needs to have decent unlockable powers to make things interesting, and Alwa’s Awakening manages to do this without opting for the staple double-jump. In fact, there are only three powers – create a block (which you can push or stand on), create a bubble (which rises and you can hop on briefly), and shoot a lightning bolt. The block is upgraded later so it can be used as a raft in water, and the bubble improved so you can ride it until you bang your head, but that’s it. It does a lot with these though, including some tricky platforming sections which see you switching magic on the fly, puzzles where you have to create blocks and push blocks in specific ways, and unusual methods of defeating difficult bosses.
Importantly, it has the “colouring in the map” mechanic that is so important to these games, and there are hidden and semi-hidden secrets to double the damage you can do and orbs to collect which can knock some HP off bosses before you start.
It’s also a lot longer than I was expecting. I thought I was in for a couple of hours, but it was nearer 8 when beat the final boss and I suspect there’s a different ending once I return and find the remaining handful of orbs I’d missed.