Do you ever get tired of those AAA titles? Where you’re running low on health, wondering if you’ll survive. As you struggle to make it to the next save point, will you make it in time? Make no mistake, I get the urge to get lost in an open ended fantasy world. These days you can’t blame anyone who does. But if like me, your life requires you to be a bit more grounded in reality, then you may want to check out Parasite Pack from Ratalaika Games.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft XBox One, XBoxSeries X/S; Playstation 4/5
If you’re like me you hear the words 8 -bit Game and a few adjectives will come to mind. Simple, easy and maybe even boring. If you’re enlightened you may even toss in the words retro and niche, talk about politely saying old and unwanted.
Its great if a game has great graphics and sounds, as well as an amazing story, but it also sounds like a movie not a game. With Parasite Pack, Lowtek offers players a chance to enjoy just the game. Or should I say the challenge of the two games. With over 20 levels on each side of the cassette, with increasing difficulties, you may be begging for a little Kombat. Especially since both playable characters are okay with a little blood and gore. In this game you’ll play as Henry, a flea, and Tapeworm in a sometimes frustrating but great bit (or bite) of throwback fun.
Talk about can’t stop, won’t stop. From the moment you take control of Henry, the flea, you are jumping, jumping. To the point of being slightly out of control, especially since the jump is automatic. Eventually you learn how to control how high Henry jumps, but until that point it’s about keeping Henry calm. Otherwise, you’re likely to be repeating the level. Often.
Henry’s adventure begins with the flea being recruited for the refueling team. You job is to collect the blood vials that look like they are directly from the original Castlevania. As each level begins you will notice there isn’t much difficulty in discovering the path to the next level. So why will you still struggle, become upset and walk away only to return because an 8-bit game wont beat you? Henry and his O-C-Flea. Has your dog ever had fleas, if so you can relate. Exactly. They move, and so does your character. So in order to safely get Henry past spikes and various vermin you need to be deliberate and precise with your jump direction (or your descent and relaunch). This 8-bit game is taking it back to the days before you could button mash for the win.
Tapeworm’s levels are like the B sides of Henry’s. While playing as the flea you will feel the need to move fast, the worm slows things down. If you have ever played Snakes, that will give you a quick idea of these levels. Players begin as the tape reel of a cassette tape. Your tapeworm body is segmented and the play area is divided into plots. Each move counts as a segment. Your goal is to collect all the notes on the level while avoiding traps and enemies similar to Henry.
The difficulty with Tapeworm begins with the movement. Because each move is a segment, you need to plan your path. But unlike Henry, Tapeworm is slower. Your chances of an enemy striking you are more likely on these levels. Also, Tapeworm uses more co-op areas, either allowing you to play with a friend or requiring you to assist a NPC. If the flea portion was about slowing down, this side is about not getting impulsive.
Parasite Pack offers players an opportunity to experience the good and yeah bad of 8-bit games. The graphics aren’t the greatest selling point of this game. Even though Flea is supposed to take place on a dog, it looks like a desert (no idea where Tapeworm’s level is taking place). Tapeworm also may not be the best DJ, the retro music is appreciated but gets mind numbing after a while.
Still there is no denying these elements work to create the intended effect . Developer Lowtek didn’t just set out to make a game inspired by retro, they made a retro game. This feels more like a port than a new game. Even the old school menu and save code (yeah not file, code) will take you back to a time when things weren’t so strange.
As July nears its end and we head into August now is the perfect time to grab this title from Lowtek and publisher Ratalaika Games. Nothing says dog days of summer like a Parasite Pack.