Are you looking for a platformer to scratch you’re itch, perhaps something for the kids as well? Something that has pirates and vampires and an assorted menagerie of animals to bar your path?
Then you may want to check out Captain Sabretooth and The Magic Diamond.
Based on a popular, in Norway at any rate, series concerning the titled Captain Sabretooth, Captain Sabretooth And The Magic Diamond lets you explore the world of the movies and shows in a made for kids, light-hearted 2D Metroidvania romp that is a perfect starting point into Metroidvania platforming for kids, and a surprisingly decent diversion for seasoned gamers.
In Captain Sabretooth you take on the role of one of two siblings, male or female, who is co-opted into the pirate lifestyle by the pasty-faced Captain Sabretooth to find a magic gem that it seems has been stolen by another kid who resembles you.
While Captain Sabretooth is actually rather light on the storytelling, there’s just enough to let you know that you’re helping the good old Captain, who happens to be a vampire, search for a magic diamond that will let him walk again in the sun unhindered. No more slathering oodles of chalk over this vampires face like its sunblock 99000! And that’s really all the setup you need to proceed on your 2d sidescrolling journey across four islands that grow decidedly more complex and cavernous with each new shore leave.
Sabretooth is a rather pretty looking game for something that swung quite under the radar. Its glorious 2D 3D style is put to good use in depicting ravishing tropical locales, lava filled caverns and gloomy, ghost haunted tunnels. It may not be a full on 3D smorgasboard of visuals, but what’s here; trees rolling in the foreground, a nicely designed middle ground play field and quite often stunning vista-filled backdrops; brings the game to life rather nicely with each stage lending a nice sense of depth to the game world.
If you’ve played any Metroidvania before, or any 2D platformer really, you know what to expect. You can run, wall jump, swing a cutlass and shoot rocks from a slingshot. There’s a nice sense of weight to character movement though I did find combat to be a little lacklustre as there aren’t enough movement skills at your disposal to make it nailbiting. It’s perfectly serviceable for what’s asked of you.
As with any good Metroidvania, paths are locked behind finding new upgrades, whether it’s the boots that let you wall jump, the slingshot for shooting enemies or activating distant switches or cutlass upgrades. Searching every knook and cranny is essential, not just to open treasure chests for doubloons and gems – which can be used to purchase more upgrades, but to find ammo pouch increases, more hearts for your overall health and requisite movement add-ons to help with those hard to reach places and new stage sections.
Most of the game is very easy on all fronts. Later sections do add some tricky timed puzzle jumps to the formula, but they won’t have experienced players sweating too much. Combat though is easy from the get go. Clearly the game isn’t trying to punish players at all, especially since the target market seems to be kids. Dying in a section starts you right back at the start of that section, with your dropped loot waiting for you, while defeating just about every enemy will drop loot and health.
Speaking of enemies, you’ll be spending most of your time pummelling the local wildlife with some undead pirates showing up by the third island. Each enemy has its own attack patterns which are easy to learn though I do feel like the game could have done with some more piratey enemies to plague you with. Presumably this has something to do with the media franchises story, but unfortunately I don’t know enough about it to offer a definitive statement on that front.
One nice touch I really appreciated was that loading screens, when you’re getting into the game and travelling between islands, plays a gorgeous looking CGI video of Captain Sabretooths ship travelling to a destination. It’s definitely a niche change from staring at a progress bar.
There are some small hiccups though. One screen on the second island would load in as I entered the area, so you could see the world meshes popping in. It happened everytime I entered the area so it just wasn’t a once off occurrence. And the foreground elements could occasionally block my view of a platform to jump to or an enemy patrolling an area which led to some missed jumps and cheap hits. Overall, these were rather small niggles in what is, otherwise, an incredibly solid product.
With its simplified and easy take on the Metroidvania formula, Captain Sabretooth and The Magic Diamond might not be your first port of call, but solid platforming and stage design, along with its brevity, make it an enjoyable romp for seasoned platformers and younger gamers alike.
You can purchase Captain Sabretooth And The Magic Diamond here for £31.39
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