I suspect if you’re reading this then you might like a wee bit of the 16-bit. Tanglewood has been developed by Big Evil Corporation and coincidentally is released today on both Steam and Cartridge for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. We initially interviewed the creator of Tanglewood Matt Phillips back in March 2017. You can read that with delight here.
The most interesting thing of note about Tanglewood is that it has been developed using SEGA’s 1990’s development tools, making this a truly authentic 16-bit experience.
You play Nymn, who has unfortunately been separated from the family pack. Set in a fictional world you must help Nymn survive the terrors at night and get through to morning. To survive these terrors you can use skills such as evasion, special abilities, traps, and trickery.
The version I got to play was the Steam version for PC. I must admit I was suddenly taken back to my childhood bedroom, with my posters of Sonic the Hedgehog on the walls and my small black tv, wearing my black Simpsons trainers. Ahh those were the days. I felt a little saddened that I wasn’t playing this with the cartridge in my Mega Drive but it didn’t dampen my spirits enough to stop me!
A feast for the eyes is what awaits you as soon as the opening credits end. Vibrant 16-bit colour in all its splendour. Nymn has just awoken and realised he is on his own. All you know at this point is that you are in some sort of forest. It is bright, the sun shining and leaves slowly floating down the screen and coming to a gentle rest on the forest floor.
I began to slowly explore this fictional world. I made sure to have my headphones in and I highly suggest that you do the same. The music and sound effects are really something you must experience.
As with any Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game, you have the typical controls. Left, Right, Up and Down. You also have the A, B and C keys. With these keys you can move around, jump, and interact with your environment and invoke some special abilities.
It didn’t take me long to realise that there was a little yellow fluffball with eyes which seemed to stare at me longingly as if waiting and wanting me to do something. I then discovered what looked like a flower of some sort, beaming light down onto the forest floor. After a few moments, I realised I could push this little yellow fluffball thingmy and roll him/her under this flower lamp. As if by magic Nymns fur coat changed from red to yellow. This must mean something special I thought. It was at this point that Nymn had the ability to jump and glide!
Jumping from branch to branch and collecting what looked like little balls of fire floating in the air as I went. The gliding ability came in handy by allowing me to reach a ledge just out of reach otherwise. Be warned though, the glide ability does wear off and you must revisit our little yellow fluffball if you wish to reactivate.
Tanglewood was being very kind to me initially. Sucking me right in, slowly but surely. Trying to make me think that this beautifully crafted world was safe and magical. Nothing could harm me, this music is beautiful, Nymn is very cute I must admit and even the little yellow fluffball just made me feel so warm, cosy and content inside…
Then the night crept in. Just as beautiful as this world is by day it is equally terrifying at night. I knew something was waiting for me and it was just a matter of time. I really didn’t want to keep moving to find what exactly was lurking just on the edge of the screen. Of course, I had no choice and I kept moving. Interesting, no big nasty enemy. I almost forgot about it and then! I can only describe what I saw as a cross between a large bull and something familiar from Oddworld on the PS1. What the heck was I supposed to do here?! All I could do was run back the way I came. This big red beast thing with deep red eyes and blood-soaked teeth was right behind me and gaining! Just before I became its lunch I managed to jump onto the safety of a branch. Phew, I thought. This beast wasn’t exactly dumb. It was just sitting there, snarling at me. As I moved on the branches, it followed. Occasionally I had to come down, back onto the forest floor so I could reach other areas in the hope of figuring out what exactly I was supposed to be doing.
I came across a large boulder, this was exactly what I was waiting for as I discovered earlier I could interact with these and push them. The beast stopped below the ledge as I calmly dropped the boulder on its head. Rather poetic.. I was then able to progress and end the level.
A quick note to you all. If you see a little purple coloured squirrel-type creature, it will try to get you to run and chase after it. Don’t do what I did and run full speed into a wall. Just like in real life if you did that you might just die. Poor little Nymn.
In Tanglewood you will find mushroom type things that you can jump on to get a good jump, holes in the ground that spit you high into the canopy, various other coloured fluffy things that gift you with special abilities and naturally nasty beasts at night that want nothing but to devour you.
Like many great games before Tanglewood, you can easily lose hours playing and find something new each time you play. Take charge of your senses, transport yourself to the 90s and grab yourself a copy. You won’t regret it. You can get a digital copy for £13.95 /$17.99 USD / €14.95. If you really feel like spoiling yourself then grab the cartridge for £54.00!