Grab a friend and work together to blow things up and find treasure!
Craig Forrester is a UK programmer better known as the man behind Ishisoft, a homebrew Developer which already has two Xbox Indie games to its credit in the two Johnny Platform titles. Ishisoft's latest is a two-player platformer done in a GameBoy style complex with a border showcasing the "Ishisoft Widescreen Dot Matrix" display and power light. A slightly enhanced port of the PC original release, Treasure Treasure: Fortress Forage: Extra Edition finds its way to the Xbox 360 as good as ever, but is it enough for a purchase?
Treasure Treasure's biggest hurdle is going to be its length. Though people will certainly go in hoping for more, Treasure Treasure is comprised of a single level, a green-and-white castle structure with all kinds of hidden goodies stashed about it. The goal of the game is to locate 21 treasures, most of which can be had in any order save the final 21st treasure, a new addition to this port. Players can escape the castle at any time, but all 21 treasures are required to get the best possible ending. Despite being a single level, there's a good amount of gameplay here, and many of the treasures will require a bit of thought to understand what needs to be done to have at them. Sometimes it's as simple as having one player use the other for a stepping stone to reach some ladder while others require near perfect timing and skillful use of bombs, the lone item available at the start. Bombs can be used as a stepping stone at times, but their primary function is to blow stuff up. Bombs always respawn from marked bomb dispensers which are quick to offer a new bomb once the last one has detonated.
Only Troy is strong enough to can carry bombs, but both he and Trixie can push them around. Each of the two characters have their own unique ability, and they will have to work together to solve many of the game's puzzles. Troy can carry bombs by flipping them into the air and letting them rest on his head while Trixie can leap higher than Troy and navigate many of the higher platforms and wide gaps Troy cannot. Treasure Treasure is designed as a two-player platformer and uses a very smart split screen to track each player once they get too far from each other. Unfortunately, this also means single players are forced to juggle two characters at once, and although the game is still completely beatable with this method of control, a couple of puzzles become much more challenging as a result. Treasure Treasure lacks on-line multi-player support unfortunately, but I suppose it's not worth the effort for such a short game. With no time attack mode or anything of the sort, Treasure Treasure struggles to provide a reason to replay it once the solutions are known and the game is completed. It's still an enjoyable experience up to that point, and depending upon how long it takes a player to solve all of the puzzles, Treasure Treasure arguably offers enough gameplay to make it worth the purchase. I believe I spent about 45 minutes playing by the time the credits rolled, and although I have no incentive to revisit the game, I enjoyed my purchase without regret.
It is a shame the game isn't longer though as Treasure Treasure is such a well designed game. The graphics capture the Game Boy perfectly, utilizing a style popular due to the color limitations of detailed foregrounds over very plain and muted backdrops. The artwork is excellent, and I like how Trixie's idle animation has her cleaning her glasses. Idle animation is such a throwaway bit and a rarity in indie games, but it does well to show how much care Forrester puts into his games. Although the game must be tiled at parts, it's not noticeably so, and each section of the level has its own distinct look to separate it from the rest. The treasures themselves are all individual pieces and are nicely recapped in the game's ending with some humorous descriptions accompanying the detailed artwork illustrating them in large form where the smaller sprites could not. Ishisoft nails the Game Boy style so well that it's hard to resist the urge to look for a Game Link Cable before starting up a two-player game. Although the music doesn't reach the level of the artwork, Treasure Treasure successfully invokes its source, though I wonder if the "retro" crowd will be as receptive to the older, uglier green-and-white display as it has been to the 8-bit color console game homages.
Treasure Treasure is definitely worth playing, and while the scale is lacking, the excellent puzzle design and enjoyment more than make up for it. Treasure Treasure need not have met Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp's 50 level count, especially given as this sole castle easily trumps Ishisoft's earlier offerings, but another couple of levels would have been greatly appreciated. It's difficult to not want more after getting a taste of Treasure Treasure, and although other short games have met with success on Xbox Indies, Ishisoft's latest offers little replay value, leaving the depth and value to be determined by the player or players' own treasure hunting skills alone.