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".
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

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is based on the popular anime series of the same name, but this engrossing visual novel isn’t afraid to carve out its own path. It features a very memorable setting, interesting characters and plenty of content to explore. The story is a little darker than most visual novels on Steam, which is a good thing and familiarity with the anime series isn’t required to enjoy this title. Any fans of the genre looking for something that will keep them busy for a while should definitely add PSYCHO-PASS to their collection. Gameplay: Features an engrossing storyline, two protagonists, a branching storyline and plenty of different endings. Graphics: Great character designs and backgrounds, but not much in the way of animations. Sound: Full voice acting for all the characters and some nice background music too.

A Kiss for the Petals – Remembering How We Met

A Kiss for the Petals - Remembering How We Met

Remembering How We Met is the latest entry in the A Kiss For The Petals franchise and gives English players a chance to see what all the fuss is about. It is an all ages title, so rather tame compared to other entries in the series, but this also broadens its appeal. Players looking for a sweet and romantic yuri title should definitely not miss out on this one. Gameplay: There are no choices as this is a kinetic novel. Graphics: Restricted to a 4:3 ratio, but still looks very good. Audio. Japanese voice acting along with some very nice background music.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

It's easy to hate Stalker for all the things that it does wrong but if you take the time and effort to really get into the game instead of judging it by the standards of other First Person Shooters you will find a deeply engrossing and gripping experience that will keep you coming back for more. Gameplay: Tough as nails and very unforgiving but stick with it and you will be hooked. Graphics: Might not be cutting edge but still looks very good. Sound: Barring some weird voice glitches its all very good.

Eye Of The Beholder 2: The Legend Of Darkmoon

Eye Of The Beholder 2: The Legend Of Darkmoon

While at fist glance EOB2 might just seem like more of the original quite a few features have been added which makes this game more entertaining and more involving. As always though it's hellishly though and you'll need quick reflexes and plenty of brainpower to crack this one. Gameplay: Immensly frusrating at times but very addictive and rewarding. Graphics: Good but not that much better than part one. Sound: Still not much in the way of music but the sound effects are ok.

Cherry Tree High Girls’ Fight

Cherry Tree High Girls' Fight

Cherry Tree High Girl’s Fight is a 2D, turn-based, girl raising simulator with a card battle system for combat, which makes it a pretty niche title. It features a varied selection of girls from which to assemble your team, but lack of animations and a rather lackluster storyline detracts from the experience. The fights are also based a lot around luck, which can further frustrate players. However, anyone who is willing to overlook these flaws will find an enjoyable game with a charming cast of characters. Gameplay: Raise the stats of your girls and then send them into card based battles for victory. Graphics: Great artwork, but not many animations. Sound: The soundtrack is catchy, but the game has no voice acting.

Runespell: Overture

Runespell: Overture

Runespell: Overture shares many similarities with the Puzzle Quest series, but never quite manages to be as great. It is undeniably addictive and has some great ideas, but can become repetitive and the whole thing ends rather abruptly. Considering the low price tag it is well worth checking out however. Gameplay: Addictive but can become repetitive. Graphics: Nice considering the limitations. Sound: Orchestral soundtrack and great sound effects.

Leave a comment

16 − six =