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

My Friend Pedro

My Friend Pedro

My Friend Pedro is a violent platform shooter with an emphasis on stylish action. Taking down enemies in slow motion is a lot of fun and the game has no shortage of props like frying pans, skateboards, glass panes, zip-lines and more to make it look even more impressive. The last half of the game skews perhaps a bit too much towards puzzles and platforming instead of stylish mayhem, but apart from this the game is a blast to play. Gameplay: Violent, over the top and lots of fun. Graphics: A few wonky animations and generic backgrounds, but overall good. Sound: Decent sound effects and a great soundtrack.

Unrest

Unrest

If you value interesting dialogue and moral choices more than loot gathering and monster slaying then you will enjoy Unrest. The game dares to do things a bit differently and for the most it works quite well. The lack of puzzles or any real combat means that the pace of the game is very slow, but just like a good book you will want to know what is going to happen next once you are hooked. Gameplay: The focus is very much on the story, so action junkies might become bored of all the reading. Graphics: The hand-painted visuals give the game an unique look. Sound: Outstanding tunes, but no speech.

EPOCH

EPOCH

Mobile titles usually don't fare very well on PC due to their simplicity or lack of options, but Uppercut Games have done a good job sprucing up EPOCH for its Steam release. The improved visuals and responsive controls make it more than just a quick port and the arcade style gameplay is perfect for killing some time between more in-depth titles. While the campaign can be completed rather quickly, there is plenty of replay value and the endless Arena mode also provides some more longevity. Gameplay: Third person shooter stripped down to its most basic elements. Graphics: The Unreal 3 engine is used to provide some nice visuals. Sound: Decent, but not particularly memorable.

Rage Runner

Rage Runner

Rage Runner is quite a challenging title and, as the name implies, it can be frustrating at times. Having to weave your way through obstacles at high speeds while changing the orientation of your craft takes some practice and completing all nine of the levels is quite an achievement. If you are looking for a 3D runner that will really test your skills you should try Rage Runner. Gameplay: Quick reflexes and some trial-and-error is required, but overall this is an addictive and challenging title. Graphics: Good, but not too distracting. Sound: Depends on whether you like dubstep or not.

Crashday Redline Edition

Crashday Redline Edition

Crashday: Redline Edition might look a little dusty compared to some of the other titles currently on the market, but it still offers a fast paced and adrenaline fueled experience for racing fans. This re-release of the 2006 original packs a whole host of new features and improvements, which is sure to please fans. In addition to a plethora of content, this Redline Edition also has full Steam Workshop support, which has already paid off in the form of hundreds of new mods for the game. Whether you have fond memories of the original or simply want a racing game that offers speed, destruction and stunts, Crashday: Redline Edition deserves a closer look. Gameplay: Tons of different modes and the ability to get on the track without having to waste hours tweaking your ride. Graphics: An improvement over the original, but not quite up to the high standard of modern games. Sound: The soundtrack is a mix of old and new, but the sound effects could have been better.

Planet Diver

Planet Diver

Planet Diver is fast paced and very addictive when played in short bursts, but lack of mission variety does mean it can become repetitive. Still, you get a lot of content for a very low price which definitely makes it worth the investment in time and money. Just keep in mind that quick reflexes are required when braving the deep, obstacle filled chasms through which your wing suit diver loves to plunge. Gameplay: Fast paced, challenging and quite addictive although it can become repetitive. Graphics: It takes a while to get used to the retro style scanlines, but the overall effect is quite nice. Sound: The music is a little unusual, but very fitting.

Leave a comment

two × four =