The old saying that you should “never judge a book by it’s cover” doesn’t just apply to books, it also applies to computer games too.
After I signed up to GoG a few months ago, I noticed that one of the freeware games on offer was a game from 2011 called “Treasure Adventure Game” ( this game is also available from several other sites that are linked to on the developer’s website).
Anyway, since “Treasure Adventure Game” had a rather generic title and some rather simplistic cover art, I passed it by and looked at other games. But, after reading that it was actually a 1990s-style 2D platform game, I just had to check it out and write a review.
Before I go any further, I should point out that – at the time of writing this review – I’ve only completed about 53% of the game. Since the game is both fairly long and quite non-linear, I’ve seen a fair amount of what it has to offer. Even so, this review only reflects my impressions of the game so far. This review may also contain some mild SPOILERS too.
Anyway, let’s take a look at “Treasure Adventure Game”:
In “Treasure Adventure Game”, you play as the son of an explorer who disappeared ten years ago after going on an expedition with both you and his friend Baggus to recover twelve ancient treasures.
After the treasures were collected, there was an explosion which scattered them around the world (and also injured your character badly enough that his right hand had to be replaced with a grappling hook). Since Baggus didn’t know how to care for a young child, he left you on the doorstep of an elderly couple who raised you as their own.
Anyway, ten years later – you are given a treasure map by your adoptive mother and it soon becomes clear that you need to explore the world and recover the twelve treasures once again…..
I really haven’t done the story of this game justice in this summary. Although the story starts off fairly simply, there’s a pretty large backstory to this game that you will uncover as you play more of it.
Seriously, “Treasure Adventure Game” has got the most well-developed backstory that I’ve seen since I played “The Longest Journey” back in 2011. But, I don’t want to spoil too much more of the plot….
Plus, it also breaks the fourth wall at least once…
One of the first things I will say about “Treasure Adventure Game” is that it isn’t your typical platform game.
Yes, if you played a lot of 2D platform games back in the 90s, then quite a lot of this game will be fairly familiar. But, although platforming is a large part of the game – there’s also quite a lot of emphasis on exploration and, well, adventure.
In many ways, “Treasure Adventure Game” is more like a RPG than a platformer, since you’ll be spending a lot of time exploring the game’s gigantic world (which consists of a collection of islands that you can sail between).
Early in the game, you’ll find a compass which you can use in conjunction with maps in order to find the different treasures. This is a really cool system since, although the game tells you where you probably should go – it doesn’t really push you in any one direction:
The compass is in the top right corner of the screen and each map you find will give you a new set of X and Y co-ordinates.
Although some parts of this world are inaccessible early in the game ( until you find certain items- like a sail that will allow you to cross more turbulent parts of the sea ), you’ll soon be able to explore the whole world and this means that you can find the treasures in pretty much any order that you want to. You can also just wander around and explore if you want to.
So, “Treasure Adventure Game” is a lot less linear than you might expect. Seriously, it reminded me a lot of the old “Zelda” games on the SNES and the Gameboy – hell, even the items screen is very “Zelda”-like:
Now, where did I put that boomerang?
As for the platforming parts of the game, they’re really good. I’ve seen this game described as being fiendishly difficult on the internet, but it really isn’t. It’s about as difficult as platform games typically were back in the 1990s. Yes, it’s much more challenging than most other modern games probably are, but it’s no worse than most actual 1990s platformers were.
So, yes, there will be times when you’ll end up shouting four-letter words at your computer screen in frustration – but, if you played a lot of platform games back in the 90s, then this game will also be refreshingly nostalgic and refreshingly challenging.
Plus, this level reminded me a lot of Paganitzu. Does anyone else remember that game?
Plus, like many great 1990s platform games – “Treasure Adventure Game” also contains a variety of interesting level bosses that often have to be defeated in very specific ways. Most of the time, it’s fairly easy to work out what you’re supposed to do to defeat the bosses, but don’t expect to defeat most of the bosses on your first try…
This is an optional boss that you can find near the beginning of the game. He’s frustratingly difficult to defeat… and he isn’t even the most challenging boss in the game.
One other cool thing about the platforming parts of this game is that the gameplay is fairly varied. Yes, you’ll have to fight monsters and make lots of split-second jumps – but these parts of the game also contain a lot of innovative puzzles and gameplay mechanics that stop the game from being too repetitive.
To give you an example, in one part of the game, you’ll enter a cave that is filled with living mushrooms. Some of these mushrooms try to jump into you. When they do, this happens…
They’re magic mushrooms alright, but NOT the “Super Mario” kind…
At first, this is more of an amusing annoyance than anything else. However, a bit later in the level, you’ll start to notice that extra platforms appear when you’re hallucinating.
These platforms also disappear when you stop hallucinating (after about ten or fifteen seconds). So, not only do you have to jump across these platforms quickly, but you also have to do it when your character is tripping the light fantastic. Needless to say, this adds a lot of challenge and variety to the gameplay in this level.
However, although the gameplay in “Treasure Adventure Game” is enjoyably challenging, it can also be annoyingly confusing at times. Seriously, this is pretty much the only platform game I’ve played where I’ve actually had to consult walkthrough guides on the internet. So, it was obviously at least slightly inspired by old “point and click” games…
One other great thing about “Treasure Adventure Game” is the soundtrack. Seriously, this game contains some of the best music that I’ve ever heard in a 2D platform game. Seriously, it’s the only game I’ve played where I’ve actually looked forward to the boss fights because of the epic music that plays in the background.
All in all, “Treasure Adventure Game” is amazing! Don’t be put off by the generic title, this game is one of the most unique (and yet familiar) games that you’ll ever play. It’s got a compelling story, a vast explorable world, amazing music and great gameplay that could have been taken directly from the 1990s.
Seriously, I wish that more modern games were like this one. It’s also completely free and will run on pretty much any computer, so there’s no excuse not to play it…
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a six.