Posted on September 26, 2014, Mitchell Saltzman Fenix Rage Review – Super Meat Boy Has a New Friend
Ever since Super Meat Boy came out in 2010, I’ve been waiting for a game that captures the same kind of “brutally hard, but fair” style of 2D platforming: centered around fast paced gameplay, pin point precise platforming, short levels, and quick respawns. Too often games capture the “brutally hard,” part, but struggle with making their games fair, relying instead on trial and error rather than skill and pattern recognition.
Fenix Rage is the closest any game has come to capturing the magic of Super Meat Boy, and though it doesn’t quite reach that same level, it’s still a very impressive feat for Costa Rica-based developer Green Lava Studios.
Platform: PC (Reviewed)
Developer: Green Lava Studios
Publisher: Reverb Triple XP
Release Date: Sept. 23, 2014
Fenix Rage is really a simple game: The object is to get our titular character, Fenix, from point A to point B, and if you’re feeling up to it, collect a special cookie on the way. That’s it. Oh, and you have unlimited jumps to get there, and unlimited dashes for super quick lateral movement.
Did I mention that on the way to point B, you’ll likely have to navigate past about a bajillion fast moving death cubes, laser beams, rapid-fire machine gun turrets, and angry homing Crocodile Heads, many of which at the same time, and all of which can kill you with one hit.
Needless to say, Fenix Rage can be pretty brutal, not unlike its biggest influence, Super Meat Boy. It’s a game in which you need to go in expecting to die upwards of 50 to 100 times on some of the tougher levels. Thankfully, the levels are super short, so even when you do die, it’s a matter of seconds before you’ll be able to get back to the point of your death and try again.
There are more than 180 levels, split up into nine worlds with 20 levels each. Each world is locked until you beat the previous one, with the exception of the final world, which is only unlocked after completing the daunting task of collecting all of the cookies in the game. Like all great 2D platformers, Fenix Rage does a great job of introducing a new gameplay mechanic in each of the worlds that changes the way the player must approach a given level.
While World 1 focuses on teaching the player the fundamentals of the game and keeps things very straightforward, World 2 adds a new twist by introducing color-coded portals that sometimes manage to turn what used to be a fast-paced action platformer into a bit of a puzzler. World 3 then adds to that by introducing fireballs that set Fenix on fire, allowing him to move faster and break ice blocks. World 4 adds in ice bullet that freeze Fenix, making him impervious to damage, but also extinguishing his flame and making him immobile until the player mashes the jump or dash buttons a couple of times.
Green Lava Studios did a great job of taking all of these game mechanics and making them play off one another. The result is a game with a ton of versatility in its level design despite its very simple core. One moment you’re frantically dashing through seemingly hundreds of enemies, the next you’re racing to get through a level before a slow-rising enemy blocks off the exit, and the next you’re playing what feels like a Flappy Bird homage.
If only the enemy design was as inspired as the level design. The vast majority of enemies are just cubes with eyes that move in predictable patterns. Some are big, some are small, some are green, some are yellow, some move fast, some move slow, but all share the same lifeless look in their eyes as they fulfill their reason for existing: moving up or down, left or right, or in a circle infinitely.
Later on, the game introduces what I like to call the “Crocodile Heads,” which activate when you get near them and then will proceed to home in on you and hunt you down. If this sounds familiar, it’s because there’s an enemy that looks and acts basically the exact same way in Super Meat Boy.