Replay: VHS is Not Dead is a platforming puzzle game from Neko Entertainment. It is fun trip to the movies as you play a movie buff while on his way home gets struck by lightning and then has the ability, or curse, to play different versions of his favorite movies. Replay has an interesting take on the side scrolling platformer by creating a co-op type of experience, without the need for another player. So does this game tickle the nostalgic funny bone of side scrollers?
The game starts out with our hero at his local video store wanting to rent some VHS movies. Waiting in line the customer ahead is yelled at for not rewinding his tapes. It appears our hero has a crush on the store employee Blue, who as she rings him up, oddly gives our hero a remote control. On his way home, while crossing a pedestrian bridge, the hero is struck by lightning, seemingly charging his VHS tapes and the remote. Once at home, the hero is going to start a movie marathon, but none of the tapes work – seemingly fried from the lightning strike. Getting angry at his TV, the hero starts hitting it with his remote when suddenly he is transferred into his TV. From there we are taking on an adventure of his 4 VHS movies that he rented – all touring different genres of movies, including a Pirate Ship, Space Ship, Haunted House, and a Jungle – all reminiscent of blockbuster Hollywood films (which I won’t name here).
From the first level we learn the mechanics of the game. You control up to 3 total characters each with the ability to move, jump and push objects in the levels. What makes the game unique is the Rewind feature. At any time, you have the ability to rewind what moves you have just made, and then select a different character to control. Each time you control a character it Records your movements, allowing you to essentially play with 2 and up to 3 characters at once. This is an added spin to the puzzle genre as you essentially are playing co-op with yourself by taking turns. The goal is to make it to the Scene boxes or portraits of the different characters. Each level is timed, adding to a Gold/Silver/Bronze/No Medal system based on your fastest score. Also on each level are Golden Keys that if you collect all within a certain group, you gain access to a bonus level. Achievement/Trophy hunters will like this, as you have numerous rewards for gathering all the keys, or getting a Gold Medal time for each level. Each level has its own environmental designs, together with the theme, to add different puzzles and ways to get to the exit. Levels are broken up into Scenes, where you have to complete 5 “Acts” in order to progress. At the end, the final level is a boss fight with its own unique mechanics.
Graphics are in line with the feel of the game, old VHS tapes with 8-bit type graphics. The backdrops and set designs are in line with the particular themes of each movie or level. Controls are easy to use and the interaction with the level works with the Rewind feature. Music tends to get repetitive, often the same tracks for multiple levels. Puzzle designs are the usual fair of jumping, moving boxes, using the 2nd character for boosts and later designs add buttons and movable columns. The Golden keys for each level are either hidden or require advanced planning to access them. The nice change of themes from video to video keeps it fresh, however many of the same puzzle types are reused over and over. There is an underlying story for each level, where the player is brought into the movie and must help the characters. Dialogue is through text boxes and quirky one liner will give you the occasional chuckle.
Over all this is your standard puzzler, platforming game. It is a bargain for the price as you will get around 10-12 hours of play, but have lots of replay value to go and earn achievements or improve your score. Puzzles are challenging and the Rewind feature is a nice change of pace to make the game stand out. There is also the throwback to those that remember the days when you went to the local video store to get VHS tapes, with the occasional lashing from the counter clerk for tapes you forgot to rewind.
+ Engaging Puzzles
+ Unique Rewind mechanic
+ Co-Op play, without another person
– Slight repetition of puzzles
– Music can get annoying
Overall Score – 8/10
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