Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore review - re-facing evil

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore review - Arzette with a sword and raised hand

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore review - Arzette with a sword and raised hand

Should we get the mandatory meme jokes out of the way right at the start of the review? My boy, this question is what all true warriors strive for! If you were alive on the internet in the 2010s, the Zelda CD-i memes were hard to escape. Not to mention the many YTP videos going around. But, did you ever actually sit down to play Wand of Gamelon or Faces of Evil?

Well, probably not, but if you ever wondered what those games would feel like, if they were made today in a less frustrating fashion, then look no further than Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore.

Shopkeeper pointing
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Limited Run Games seem to be on a roll to bring back all the worst games ever games and do them, uh, justice? Seedy Eye Software (because CD-i, you see?) wanted to bring back that same awkward animated cutscenes and slightly passable gameplay. Arzette is the young princess of the kingdom of Faramore, tasked with defeating a great evil that is back, Daimur. Of course, she’ll have to bring back pieces of a jewel which have been taken up by evil bosses and imprison Daimur in a book. Forever?

This is a classic 2D side scrolling platformer, where you defeat enemies, collect new powers, solve sidequests and unlock new areas. And of course, enjoy terribly cheesy and awkward cutscenes in-between collecting pieces of the jewel and unlocking pillars at the end of levels.

Movement is mostly from left to right, but there are some levels where you climb up (or go down a volcano). Enemies are kept to the basics, most of them can be killed with one hit, others might require three or four. Some will shoot at you (which can be soon solved with the ring of protection, just hold LB to guard), but others will just come in your face.

Doing the duck walk
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Arzette is all about following a linear path of collecting power ups to unlock areas, just like Wand of Gamelon. For example, around Faramore there are barriers that will require a gun that shoots colours, at first only red. Smash red barriers, and you’ll access the colour blue, so go back and smash those too. Then you get purple, rinse and repeat.

Same with other power ups such as the glove of power (that reminds me of something). There is indeed a lot of backtracking involved, which makes sense with the fact that most levels are not very big, but are just made up of 4-5 scenes. But don't call it metroidvania, unless you have enough rupees.

Bosses are, just like in the CD-i games, mostly a joke. They will just repeat the same patterns over and over, learn them and you will get by with no trouble. I think I was killed maybe once at the first boss, but all the others I beat on the first try. They’re designed to not give you any trouble at all which, again, might easily alienate someone who is not familiar with the Zelda CDi games that Arzette is trying to… uhm… evoke.

A horse showing off muscles
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There are also bonus scenes, where you can collect rupees (which you’ll need to buy bombs, lantern oil, rope and the usual stuff) by finding the exit in time or smashing all the blocks. The best bonus scene is probably that of closing all doors, made as a 100% homage to Hotel Mario, another classic CDi piece of poop, complete with the same controls and sound effects of the original. Boy, the fun never ends.

On the plus side, the game does solve a few of the frustrations of the originals. You have unlimited lives, so dying is not a big deal, you’ll just restart from the scene you just entered. Also, enemies won’t drain you of all your life in an instant any more, but you’ll have a few seconds of respite between each hit. Finally, you can - at any time - leave a level by “saving and quitting to map”, quite handy. So it is possible to enter a level, grab what you need and skedaddle, without needing to go back to the “map point”.

Graphically, the game follows suit, looking like it was developed in 1992 on a limited 16-bit console. Sprites are made from a specific colour palette, backgrounds are mostly static and the cutscenes are just… well, off the wall. Of course, they are all made to imitate that very specific animation style of the CD-i cutscenes, with garish colours, deranged faces and reaction images to last you a lifetime. What I found slightly disappointing are the backgrounds, which were probably the best part of the graphics in Wand of Gamelon, but here are often quite simple and not very imaginative. Soundtrack, on the other hand, is so tasty I wish I could have it in a sandwich. I’m so hungry, I could eat an octorok.

The Mario Hotel bonus scene
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But, your enjoyment from Arzette is going to be very much dependent on how familiar you are with the overall Zelda CDi gameplay and memes and, well, you love em. Let us pretend for a moment you aren’t, would you want to get Arzette: the Jewel of Faramore? Well, compared for example to Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, it is hard to call it an ultra polished 2D platformer. But then again, it was never meant to be. It works best as a nostalgic trip to an alternate past timeline, because if you were looking for a good modern 2D platformer there would definitely be better choices.

That leaves us with a quite difficult game to judge, if one were to put away those rose-tinted nostalgia glasses. Arzette is definitely playable, providing a good amount of platforming fun for its 10 hours playtime. It will also delight you with all those meme-rich cutscenes and won’t overstay its welcome. But would I recommend it to anyone not at all familiar with those classic CDi memes who just wants a good 2D platformer? After I’ve scrubbed all the floors in Hyrule, then we can talk about it.

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore
Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is a throwback to the classic CD-i Zelda platformers, a journey that you might want to take specifically if you love those classic memes, otherwise there might be better choices to spend a few hours.
7 out of 10
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