Möira vs The Tropes: How 8-Bit Is It?

Last night, I spent a lot of time in my bathtub, marinating on the prickly questions of life: Why is there existence? Are we all just figments of our own imaginations? Are numbers real? Can free will occur given the determinism involved in pre-conscious decision making? How good is Onagro Studios’s new old-school RPG platformer Möira? I was coming pretty close to answering them when my phone rang and I forgot my working out for most of them. Only one solution had floated far enough up in my suds-soaked brain to survive – the last and most important one.

From the demo I’ve just played, Möira is rose-spectacled, Metroidvania-tinged fun. It comes with a flexible ability system that develops nicely as you encounter different enemies and characters, and the characters are all pleasant and engaging.

Crucial, though, to the success of any game that tries to play on 8- and 16-bit memories is the quality of its nostalgia. And to assess that, we need a checklist:

 

  1. Graphics: authentic looking.
  2. Music: authentic sounding.
  3. Family: authentic… err… being. The hero appears to live with a single mother, whose main role is to scold him for being late for school.
  4. Plot: people are missing, the world of Möira has gone to shit…
  5. Hero: …and it’s up to a small child to save it, even though there are plenty of perfectly capable grownups around.
  6. World: mixes a fantasy castle with an industrial factory and a treetop village. The castle is as badly maintained and dangerous to live in as you might expect, thanks to its spike pits and disintegrating floors; you can certainly understand why it was abandoned in the first place.
  7. Villain calling the hero a “foolish child”, hammering home that someone older than about 7 should have taken over by now: present.
  8. Monsters I: not bothered that everyone in their species looks identical nor by being trapped behind locked doorways without drinking water or Wi-Fi.
  9. Weapons: you can use a sword-boomerang! Best weapon ever! Except for the even bester sworderang in Soleil (a.k.a. Crusader of Centy).
  10. Number of chickens: middling to high.
  11. Monsters II: touching them hurts you, which makes me wonder 2 things: why don’t they all run at you if their skin is lethal? And are they only angry because they are alone and cannot experience physical love? Wounding them makes them briefly invincible, which only makes their emotional vulnerability all the more ironic and tragical.
  12. Jumping: unrealistically high.
  13. WHY CAN’T I STEAL ANYTHING FROM ANY OF MY NEIGHBORS’ HOUSES?!?
  14. Did I want one more go? Yup, though the gradually increasing difficulty of the demo never gets so hard that it’s really necessary.
  15. Is it good enough that you should pick up the demo? Yes, unless you feel as strongly as I do about being able to pinch things from your friends’ houses. (And in the game). Download the demo of Möira from itch.io or play it in your browser here. Onagro Studios are also running a successful Kickstarter campaign at the moment, which you can throw money at if you feel like it.

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Declan Taggart is still struggling to come to terms with not being a ninja, pirate or dinosaur. If you’re going through the same thing and would like to let him know he’s not alone, please find him on Twitter @NonsenseThunder.

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