The Mysterious Cities of Gold
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Nostalgia obviously plays a huge role when it comes to such a classic license, but this game is good enough to stand out on its own. The basic gameplay is engaging, but with a gentle difficulty curve that makes it suitable for younger players. Experienced players can aim for all the optional goals to up the challenge.

Gameplay: The puzzle solving provides a challenge for players of all ages.

Graphics: The visuals stay true to the animated series.

Sound: Authentic voice acting and catchy tunes

Summary 8.0 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

The Mysterious Cities of Gold

Developer: Neko Entertainment | Publisher: Neko Entertainment | Release Date: 2013 | Genre: Adventure / Casual / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

The original Mysterious Cities of Gold animated series ran in the early 1980s and followed the adventures of a young boy named Estaban and his two friends. The series mixed history with science fiction and built up quite a following amongst younger viewers. Now more than 30 years later the show has a second season and with it an official game.

The good news is that the developers are actually fans of the animated series so this isn’t just another half-baked cash in. Like many other fans, the show was an integral part of my childhood, although I only had a chance to view it in the early nineties. I wasn’t even aware that the show had been renewed for a new season until this game popped up on my radar, but the second I heard that iconic theme song I was drowning in nostalgia. Judging by the success of the kickstarter project to bring this game to PC with full English localization I would say that I’m not the only one eager to relive those childhood memories.

The game gives you direct control over Estaban, Zia and Tao as they explore levels and solve puzzles from a top down perspective. Each child has their own unique ability which means you have to constantly switch between characters to overcome the various obstacles. Esteban has the ability to bring out the sun, which is useful for activating special pillars while Tao can translate the ancient language of his people for puzzle hints. His parrot is also adept at pilfering keys from guards while Zia is petite enough to squeeze through cracks into areas inaccessible to other characters. None of the children are skilled at combat, so stealthily sneaking past enemies or hiding in pots and barrels is your only defense.

The levels in the game are quite large and filled with puzzles that have to be solved. The puzzles mostly involve pressure plates, levers, switches and keys that open doors to new areas. You’ll also encounter colored dragon statues that have to be placed on the correct pedestals to unlock gates. You can use the camera button to scroll around the level which is vital for pinpointing which character to send in what direction. Unfortunately, there is no way to zoom out which is a function that would have come in really handy. Levels are usually filled with guards that patrol important areas and you have to avoid their line of sight or you will get caught. Footsteps indicate the patrol routes of guards and you usually have a second or two to get away if spotted, but even capture only means that you are sent back to the nearest checkpoint. This means that the frustration factor is quite low and even younger players can enjoy the game without getting stuck.

To make things more challenging for veterans there are some optional goals to aim for. Each level has a secret chess that unlocks new artwork from the show and you can also try to collect all the parchments dotted around the levels. The parchments are completely optional and usually require you to take more daring routes or send characters to sections where they would not normally be needed for a nice added challenge. Each level also has a strict time limit to aim for but don’t worry as there is no penalty for failing to beat these.

Even with the top down perspective the visuals remain faithful to the animated series and all the characters are immediately recognizable. The large, colorful levels are fun to explore and the animations of all the characters are excellent.  At the end of each level you are rewarded with a cut-scene that is taken straight from the animated show, but you don’t really need to know the show or characters to enjoy the game. The audio is good and features the familiar theme song that will stick in your head for days. The voice acting is also done by the same folks who lend their vocals to season two of the animated series.

The game can be played with a controller, but I had no issues using the mouse. You can only control one character at a time, so no directing them as a group or selecting waypoints before switching to another character. This means that some extra planning is required to avoid reaching a point where you discover you are using the wrong character for the job, but movement speed is fast enough that even this isn’t much of an issue.

At this point 20 of the promised 30 levels are available and with the conclusion of the animated series on French television the release of the final 10 are imminent. It took me about five hours to complete the 20 levels and at no point did it feel tedious or become a grind to solve the puzzles. The upcoming levels will obviously be more taxing with the final three in particular promising to pose a challenge even to adults.

If you are a fan of the animated series, either the original or the new season then this game should be high on your wish list. While it doesn’t exactly break any new ground, it does offer some solid gameplay in a nice family friendly package. The developers are unmistakably passionate about the license and clearly made a lot of effort to stay true to the show.

*Review originally published November 2013.
As of 11/25/2013 all thirty levels of the game are available on Steam and achievements have been added.

System Requirements

  • OS: Microsoft® Windows® XP / Vista / 8
  • Processor: 1.2GHz processor
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Card supporting Pixel Shader 3.0 and Vertex Shader 3.0
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Microsoft® Windows® XP / Vista / 8
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz and higher
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Card supporting Pixel Shader 3.0 and Vertex Shader 3.0
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 4 GB available space

Related posts

Gundemonium Recollection

Gundemonium Recollection

If you like "bullet hell" shooters then you will have a blast with Gundemonium Recollection. Five levels might not sound like much but be prepared to spend a lot of time with this game if you truly want to master it. With a wealth of weapons and some really challenging gameplay you'll be coming back to this one again and again. Gameplay: Daunting if you are new to the genre, but loads of fun and very challenging. Graphics: Nowhere near cutting-edge but very stylish and cute. Sound: The new arranged soundtrack is excellent.

Crime Secrets: Crimson Lily

Crime Secrets: Crimson Lily

Crime Secrets: Crimson Lily is a hidden object game with some interesting clue hunting scenes and a story that, for once, isn’t steeped in the paranormal. It is however also a very short game and can be completed with ease by anyone familiar with the genre. Provided you don’t mind the lack of challenge there is still fun to be had with the game, but unfortunately there is nothing really remarkable about it. Gameplay: Hunting for clues and not just hidden objects is a nice feature. Graphics: The locations are detailed, but a little limited. Sound: Average music and the voice acting could also have been better in spots.

Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey

Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey

Its addictive gameplay, charming visuals and catchy soundtrack ensures that Letter Quest is an entertaining and relaxing title. It has plenty of challenges to keep you busy and while there is a bit of grind involved the RPG elements keeps things interesting. If you are looking for a game to pass some time without worrying too much about a story then Letter Quest is a great option. Gameplay: Polished, addictive and packed to the brim with content. Graphics: Nice visuals, but the animations are very limited. Sound: The soundtrack is quite nice, but could have benefited from a few more tunes.

Blue Estate The Game

Blue Estate The Game

Blue Estate is an on-rails shooter that is filled with violence, obscenities, and plenty of very politically incorrect humor. It is based on a comic book license, so if you are a fan of these and enjoy the genre, then you will have a blast with the game. Unfortunately, it is rather short and its brand of humor will definitely not appeal to everyone. However, despite its flaws, it is certainly an entertaining title and addictive enough to keep us coming back for more even after completing both the story and arcade modes. Gameplay: Light gun games are not exactly common on PC, so if you have the right peripheral you will have a blast with this one. Graphics: Colorful, detailed and quite humorous in places. Sound: The voice acting is decent and the soundtrack isn't bad either.

A Rose in the Twilight

A Rose in the Twilight

Help a young girl and her giant companion navigate a treacherous castle while unraveling the mystery of the thorns in this unique puzzle title. With its somber visuals and blood drenched gameplay, it is probably not a title that is going to appeal to everyone, but puzzle fans are in for a treat. A Rose In The Twilight can be a little frustrating at times, but makes up for it with challenging puzzles and captivating characters. If you don’t mind your puzzle titles infused with equal measures of cuteness and creepiness then this one comes highly recommended. Gameplay: Making progress requires teamwork, puzzle solving and some light platforming. Graphics: Dark and moody, but very stylish. Sound: No voice acting, but the music is suitably somber.

Darkarta: A Broken Heart’s Quest Collector’s Edition

Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest Collector's Edition

Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest is the story of a mother who has to brave the Netheworld and rescue her daughter from an age old curse. It is definitely an intriguing story and the game also features tons of hidden object scenes as well as mini-games to keep players hooked. Thanks to the beautiful art style and atmospheric music, it is easy to get sucked into the gameworld, and a lot of effort clearly went into polishing the game to perfection. Darkarta has already won numerous awards and after completing it, it is obvious that all of them were deserved. If you are a fan of the genre, then this is a title that should not be missed. Gameplay: A lengthy adventure with plenty of puzzles and mini-games to enjoy Graphics: The art style is beautiful and the game is filled with scenic locations. Sound: Decent voice acting and a the soundtrack isn't bad either.

Leave a comment

3 × five =