In the world of nostalgia-inducing sidescrollers, Shovel Knight is largely unchallenged as the king. Sure, lots of games try to sit alongside it, but few actually succeed. With it’s fun and memorable soundtrack, retro graphical style, and challenging platforming action, Shovel Knight is a game that takes a classic aesthetic and drags it kicking and screaming into the 21st century, creating an experience that’s fresh and invigorating, while still giving you that warm nostalgic fuzzy feeling in your chest that we all love so well.

Möira is the latest challenger to the throne, taking the classic sidescrolling format and coating it in the game boy’s monochrome colour scheme. The demo was released via Itch.io, and developed by the Brazil-based Onagro Studios. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched, ending on April 13th.

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The story centres around Rubick, a wizard’s apprentice who goes on a journey searching for his missing master. The game opens with a classic narrative trope: being woken up from your bed, being told you’re going to be late. You set off for school, and step out into your home village. The area is teeming with life, with plenty of NPCs for you to speak to, and a bouncy tune jingling away in the background as you jaunt off to school.

The developers have clearly taken some influence from HAL’s iconic character, Kirby, as Rubick’s main power is the ability to mimic the powers of enemies. If you see an enemy armed with a sword, you can steal that ability, arming yourself with a sword too. Unlike Kirby however, Rubick can hold on to his powers after he releases them, allowing him to pick and choose which power he uses on the fly.

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The powers you collect can also be fused together to create new powers, which are often required to progress through the game. There’s a degree of trial and error involved in combining spells. Not only do the individual powers you combine matter, but also the order in which you fuse them. For example, if you combine the Beam and Sword spells, can create either the Magic Sword, or the Beamerang depending upon which order you combine them.

Solid level design is so important when trying to create a good sidescroller. The levels need to be intricately put together, giving the player the opportunity to explore, while being restricted to only two dimensions. Möira largely nails this, offering plenty of secret areas for you to find and plenty of new challenges and hidden items to find.

“…if the rest of the game is as neatly put together as this demo, we could have another Shovel Knight on our hands.”

You progress by solving simple puzzles, and fighting smaller enemies. The levels culminate in a battle against a boss. This doesn’t appear to be a game for players who enjoy tooth-grinding difficulty. The challenge mounts in a slow drip feed, and doesn’t ramp up too much. The platforming action in the first few levels is very forgiving, although if you’re not careful, the combat can be your downfall, as there is a small degree of strategy involved in timing your attacks just right. I rapidly gave up on using the sword as it involved getting dangerously close to the enemies, and if you’re not quick enough on the uptake, you could lose all your lives shockingly quickly.

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The soundtrack is beautifully retro, taking classic video game bleeps and bloops, and combining them in wonderful orchestrations that breathe a huge amount of life into the game world. Every track sounds like it could have been ripped straight from a classic video game, and had these pieces been featured in a game released in the game boy era, they would almost certainly be remembered as bona fide classics.

One of the game’s most unique features is the ability to adjust the colour scheme from the main menu. While the base colour scheme is a simple matte grey and white, you have a whole host of new palettes available to choose from, which you can access at any time from the menu. While some of the colour schemes are something of a shock to the senses, splashing the whole screen in primary colours that render it almost impossible to look at the screen, some of them are nice and subtle, allowing you to choose the way in which you experience the game.

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Möira is a welcome trip down memory lane, and if the rest of the game is as neatly put together as this demo, we could have another Shovel Knight on our hands. The premise is simple, but masterfully crafted and it looks like real care has been taken to get the aesthetic just right. I can easily see this game being a big success in the near future, and I’m really looking forward to playing the rest of the game when it’s finally released. The Kickstarter campaign will be open until the 13th of April, and if you get a chance to try out the demo before then, I highly recommend it. For fans of Kirby’s Dream Land, Shovel Knight, or any of the classic Megaman titles, this is an absolute must play.