Between the broken English text, 8-bit sprites and brutal, unforgiving difficulty, it's easy to think of the Nicalis-published 1001 Spikes as a long-forgotten NES gem. While certainly not for everyone, it's a rich, rewarding (and punishing) addition to the Wii U eShop library. This modern-retro platformer is certainly a gem, but a few quirks make it more of a diamond in the rough.
1001 Spikes is a supremely difficult puzzle platformer in which players initially play as Aban Hawkins, an Indiana Jones-like spelunker with a chip on his shoulder; he can shoot arrows, push blocks, and perform a low jump and high jump. Unfortunately, these abilities just barely equip Aban for his journey into the Ukampa Temple, which is filled to the brim with deathtraps and hazards that will kill him with just one hit. While players will die in 1001 Spikes — and they will die often — they are given 1001 lives to start the game with, and more can be earned throughout the game.
The objective of each level is deceptively simple: grab the key, make it to the exit and breathe a sigh of relief; each stage has an optional golden skull to collect which grants an extra life. Collecting enough skulls will unlock new outfits, new characters and even new game modes. While reaching each golden skull adds significantly to the already-painful difficulty level, it's hard not to get excited when a message flashes that a new game mode has been unlocked, or that a familiar face is now playable. Early on, we were able to unlock CommanderVideo of the BIT.TRIP series, and were delighted to find that when playing as him the music changed to the signature chiptunes of that franchise, getting more lively with each success. Grabbing the golden skull and the key unleashed the rainbow that fans loved in BIT.TRIP Runner, which was a great surprise.
The gameplay is taken to a whole other level when playing the story mode with local co-op. It's great fun trying to coordinate getting through a level, and since each character has their own unique ability, players will find themselves naturally teaming up on strategies. Each unlocked character does have to start the story mode from the beginning, however, and this can be a bit of a pain for those who just want to switch off from one character to another.
1001 Spikes' level design is both cruel and fantastic. It takes a lot of patience and trial and error to get through each level, but there is always a solution. The two different jumps are very important, with certain obstacles timed to work with one over the other. As for Aban's weapon, the arrows are not so useful for killing enemies (most of which can be avoided), but are extremely important for deflecting oncoming projectiles. Mastering the controls and skills in 1001 Spikes will make the game much more satisfying and fun — but not much less challenging.
In addition to the story mode, there are three extra modes that can be played solo or in multiplayer. Tower of Nanaar is a vertical scrolling adventure in which each character is given 9 lives and must traverse the stages to get to the top, collecting gold along the way. Lost Levels is basically an extension of the story mode, with even more challenging levels and less lives. Golden Vase is a more conventional multiplayer game (though it can still be played solo) in which players compete against each other to win the most gold. There are unlimited lives during each timed round, and it's frantic fun if not a little simplistic. Coins collected in these modes can be spent on unlocking new skins and costumes.
The visual and sound design in 1001 Spikes is phenomenal. The 8-bit style oozes personality, and the opening cut-scenes are excellent, recalling early games like Ninja Gaiden. Each game mode has its own story and introductory cut-scene, which adds to the fascinating world that Aban inhabits. For an often-silly homage to the days of poor translations and stories, the characters are surprisingly compelling. The one significant flaw in the presentation is the lack of off-TV play. The GamePad screen is used to show what level the player has reached, which is pointless. With most Wii U titles sporting off-TV play, there's really no excuse for this omission, especially since the GamePad isn't being used for another gameplay mechanic.
The frustrating lack of off-TV play aside, 1001 Spikes is a spirited, fun title that exemplifies the creative indie spirit that is permeating the eShop. With tons of unlockables, several distinct game modes and a charming presentation, 1001 Spikes is highly recommended. Just be sure to do some yoga and go to your zen place — you don't want to rage-quit your GamePad at the television after that 800th death.
IGN review said the 3DS version is the worst among PS4, Wii U, Vita and 3DS (XL).
"Not to be outdone by the PS4 version, the Wii U edition comes with its own custom arcade-mode skin for Aban: the Mario-inspired Mr. Video Game, which comes complete with appropriate music and a fireball attack."
Is quote of cave story playable?
Nicalis = bad European support and too expensive
the Wii U edition comes with its own custom arcade-mode skin for Aban: the Mario-inspired Mr. Video Game, which comes complete with appropriate music and a fireball attack.
The 3DS version has this as well. Were they suggesting it was unique to the WiiU?
It is included as well
"The 3DS version is easily the weakest of the bunch; not only does it lack multiplayer and The Golden Vase, but the smaller screen makes it tougher to spot some of the deadlier features camouflaged throughout 1001 Spikes' levels (and for the record, I played on a 3DS XL). Turning on 3D is a little disorienting, and even when it's off, the animation gets visibly (and shockingly) choppy when levels scroll. It's otherwise the same as the other versions and includes the Mr. Video Game skin, but it’s not an ideal way to play."
What the heck, no TV-Off Play?! No go for me... (
@WilliamK They're patching it in late this summer, according to Tyrone Rodriguez. I can see that not being acceptable in the eyes of some, but if you really wanted this game off-TV, maybe grab it the first time you see it on sale.
@Philip_J_Reed about how long is the game
Were there any bugs encountered? I ask because I read Nicalis were releasing this while knowing there may be some, though, would later be patched.
@Porky thats for the 3ds version so as long as thats not the one your getting their shouldnt be
I might have to get this. It feels like a mix between Super Meat Boy and Spelunky.. which is a very good thing indeed.
It's good to know that they are patching in off-tv play in the future, but do you know what else would be nice? More support for controllers other than the Wii U Pro controller. Wiimote + nunchuk maybe? Classic controller? Even just the Wiimote alone could work if you used the 1, 2, and B buttons for jumps and attack.
No gamepad only play = no sale for me
They ARE patching off tv play.
They also sent out a survey on Miiverse asking for users on additional controller preferences to add in for next patch.
I went out and purchased the WiiU version and I'm loving the game itself. The plumber costume in Golden Vase multiplayer mode is a nice bonus exclusive to the WiiU version.
In that mode I mentioned, the only controllers that can be used are the Wii U Gamepad, and... The Wii U Pro Controller. Wii Remotes CANNOT be used. Now who really has 4 Wii U Pro Controllers, let alone 4 Gamepads.
That sorta immediately makes gives the other PS3/PS4/XBox360 versions an edge since finding extra controllers is pretty simple. Wii U Pro Controllers on the other hand (NOT the Wii Classic Contoller/Pro) are expensive, and usually purchased as a single and for just one game. Wouldn't make sense now to purchase 4 new ones (or 3 if you wanna use the Gamepad as a Contoller) just for this game. Most PS3/360 users have 4 controllers already for other games.
Man, do I feel like I've been duped a bit. They could've just allowed Wii remotes to be used, even if 4 buttons are required. I think gamers would prefer to adapt to a strange Wii Remote layout than shell out cash for 3 new Wii U Pro Controllers.
In Luke's words to Obi-Wan, "Why didn't you tell me?"
I just finished the (first) story mode and am absolutely amazed by how fun this game is. It is completely sadistic, but unlike a game such as La-Mulana, I never feel like giving up because the level design is so compelling and the bite sized levels don't feel insurmountable. Also, the two jump idea is brilliant and should be the standard for all platformers. Now to tackle Antarctica...
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