Given the sheer rate at which the Switch’s eShop is expanding on a weekly basis, it almost seems inevitable that an Indiana Jones game will eventually make its way to owners. Until then, Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan is about as close as we’re going to get – but that’s okay because this retro-inspired 2D platformer is actually darn good fun.
From publisher/developer Collectorvision, Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan is actually the fourth entry in the series – though you certainly don’t need to have played the previous games to appreciate this latest title. You play as the titular Sydney Hunter, who finds himself trapped in a Maya pyramid and must collect the seven missing pieces of the Maya Haag calendar scattered throughout the temples.
Armed with a whip, you’ll come face to face with everything from scorpions and snakes to fire breathing skeletons, all the while avoiding the usual traps you’d normally associate with ancient tombs. Graphically, it’s competent enough and certainly won’t impress those fatigued with retro games, but the gameplay is an impressive mix of mechanics from past classics, like the addictive gem collecting from Shovel Knight, and even the disappearing blocks from Mega Man 3. In terms of pure looks, we were also reminded of the classic Core Design platformer Rick Dangerous.
None of it quite meshes together as effortlessly as the games from which it takes influence, and there are some minor frustrations to take note of. Primarily, unlocking new levels requires a set number of crystal skulls which are hidden among stone blocks – these can be quite tricky to find on your first visit, so you’ll likely need to replay levels two, or maybe even three times to unlock enough to progress further, which can prove irritating after a while.
There are also steep difficulty spikes that more casual players will struggle with, particularly with some of the more formidable boss fights – some of which specialise in one-hit kill attacks that can be tough to avoid. Nevertheless, Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan is a decent platformer that more than justifies its asking price with impressive longevity and smooth, compelling gameplay.