Review: Fox n Forests

A gorgeous and unique platformer!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 06/13/2018 08:15 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Gorgeous graphics; tight platforming; good sense of humor
Poison Mushroom for...
Enemies respawn too quickly; hunting seeds can be tedious

During the 16-bit era, every publisher wanted their own colorful platformer to compete with the likes of Mario and Sonic. While many of these would-be stars belong in the discount bin of video game history, there was something inherently charming about the genre during that time period. Fox n Forests, from Bonus Level Entertainment and Eurovision, is a callback to the early nineties, and it manages to not only emulate them, but to achieve something that’s quite fun on its own.

In Fox n Forests, players take on the role of a fox named Rick as he attempts to save a forest from destruction. The four worlds of the forest are each based on a particular season, but Rick has an interesting ability up his sleeve: he can use magic to alter seasons. For example, the first world is based on summer, allowing Rick to temporarily shift the season to winter. In winter, water freezes, allowing Rick to walk across streams and waterfalls to explore previously unreachable areas. In spring, Rick can switch to fall, allowing him to traverse large canyons by jumping to and from falling leaves. Rick’s ability to alter seasons is a rather unique inclusion, and the developer uses it to great effect. It also adds greater visual variety, giving each level two very distinctive appearances.

That variety is all the more welcome considering how good everything in Fox n Forests looks. The game’s 16-bit graphics are absolutely gorgeous, and toggling between seasons is often worth it just to see the visual changes that come as a result. None of these changes ever feel lazy; each season truly looks different from the last. This is helped along by some really vibrant colors, making Fox n Forests one of the better looking 2D titles available on the Switch eShop.

Thankfully, the craftsmanship on display extends to the gameplay, as well. The platforming is terrifically pulled off, and the level variety is fairly impressive. Each world in Fox n Forests features three levels, one of which is a boss battle. While the majority of levels emphasize platforming, there are horizontal shooting stages as well, giving the title even more variety. Each level is huge and really well-designed. The title’s Super Nintendo roots are particularly shown off in this regard, as each stage houses a number of secrets and alternate pathways.

Like those older SNES platformers, there isn’t much of a plot to Fox n Forests. What is there, however, tends to be a bit on the funnier side. Much of the game’s humor comes from Retro the Badger, who manages the game’s save points. Save points are strewn liberally throughout each level, and the reward for finding Retro and paying his meager save fees is a gag referencing the classic games that inspired Fox n Forests. A lot of the humor can be groan-inducing, but considering most of the gamers that grew-up with Super Nintendo are now old enough to be parents, that “dad joke” style of humor certainly seems fitting.

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine in this forest. Despite all these strengths, Fox n Forests does feature a handful of annoyances. Enemies respawn frustratingly frequently, just seconds after players have finished them off. It’s a minor issue, but it can become a bigger frustration, particularly when you’re revisiting levels in search of seeds.

Searching for seeds is by far the most irritating thing about Fox n Forests. After completing each world, players are rewarded by the Season Tree with new arrows, which can be used to hit color-coordinated targets, unlocking previously unreachable areas. Unfortunately, to progress to the next world, players will have to go back to previously played levels to use the newly unlocked arrows to find hidden seeds. You see, players can’t find enough seeds the first time around with the tools at their disposal, so revisiting these levels (repeatedly) is a necessity to progress. The first couple times aren’t bad; after all, the level designs are great, and there is some fun to be had finding all the different secrets they hold. However, after multiple revisits, it becomes downright tedious. This tedium is amplified by the ridiculous enemy respawn rate, making the experience more frustrating. While most of Fox n Forests resembles SNES platformers, the seed collecting is much more reminiscent of N64 collectathons, and it hampers an otherwise enjoyable gameplay experience. What’s more, this artificial lengthening of the main quest could have been easily avoided since Bonus Levels in the game are unlocked as a reward for finding all of the game’s seeds. The addition was wholly unnecessary.

Despite these issues, Fox n Forests delivers an engrossing experience. The title shows off some really clever design work, and Rick’s ability to switch between seasons is used to great effect by the developers. Sometimes, revisiting levels to collect seeds and unlock new worlds can get a bit tedious, but the title’s strengths make it one of the better platforming options on the Switch eShop.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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