Alwa’s Legacy (Switch): COMPLETED!

After enjoying Alwa’s Awakening so much, and it was actually Alwa’s Legacy I’d originally intended to play until I realised Awakening came first and, well, existed, of course I was going to jump right into Legacy afterwards.

It is, basically, more of the same. You’re still Zoe, you still have a magic staff, and you can still use your three powers – shoot a lightning bolt, create a block and create a bubble. This time, however, the graphics are all 16-bit in style rather than 8, and you get additional abilities too.

Once obtained, you can air-dash (a bit like how you do in Celeste), warp through some walls, breath longer underwater, and upgrade the number of health segments you have. The way you upgrade your original powers is different too – previously you just found items to do that, but now you spend the orbs you collect on improvements – most of which are new to this game. You can also remove the upgrades too, allowing you to re-spend the orbs on different upgrades, meaning if you don’t need one for a bit you can make use of another. There are also a few tweaks to the controls to accommodate more skills and to make use of the fact 16-bit machines had more buttons!

The plot isn’t much different to before – beat four bosses then take down Vicar. Each boss has its own area with different gimmicks: Two of the cleverer ones include one where you can raise and lower the water level to open up paths or solve puzzles, and the other lets you swap between past and future versions of the “dungeon”, making vines grow or lasers disappear.

I found Legacy’s enemies, especially the bosses, much much easier than those in Awakening, but found the puzzles and “how do I get to X” issues much less obvious than before. Completing it 100% was a bit harder too as hidden areas were much more hidden and there’s no controller rumble to alert you to them – although there is an item late on that warns you there’s a secret in a room, but not where in the room! Overall, though, the improvements and other changes made this more enjoyable than the original game, which I’d already thought was great. Alwa’s Legacy is not in the same league as Super Metroid or Hollow Knight, but it’s still a great Metroidvania and definitely worth picking up.

Alwa’s Awakening (Switch): COMPLETED!

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.