La-Mulana Review (PC)
La-Mulana is a 2D platformer action adventure for PC that’s finally made its way to Steam. Developed by Nigoro, this is a port of the Wiiware version which was itself a remake of the original La-Mulana. The original version of La-Mulana was built to look and play like a 8-bit game running on a MSX computer. This remake improves the graphics, though it keeps the brutally hard game play that was the standard for games during the 8-bit era.
You play as Lemeza Losugi, an archaeologist who teaches at an University in the US. If that character description sounds familiar that because Lemeza is Indiana Jones in all but name. He dresses as him, and even uses a whip just like Indy. One day Indy… Sorry I meant Lemeza receives a letter from his missing dad that says that he has discovered the ruins of La Mulana. Lemeza then heads to explore the ruins of La Mulana to find his father. The game itself plays a lot like Castlevania and Metroid. It is a free roaming 2D platform game. You start at a village near the entrance of La Mulana and you can explore the game anyway you like. You can spend hours just exploring the ruins without attempting to complete the game. There is a lot to discover while exploring. Once you are equipped with the scanner and translation software there are plenty of objects to scan. Just like in the Metroid games scanning objects will display text on the screen. Some contain clues on how to solve puzzles, while others will contain information on La Mulana itself.
Some areas of the game can be accessed by just finding their location in the ruins, while others require you to solve puzzles. Some of these puzzles are simple such as pushing a block onto a switch. Others require you to complete complicated tasks over multiple screens. A lot of these puzzle wont make sense unless you scan the ruins. This forces the player to explore every inch of La Mulana scanning every object for clues. For the most part these puzzles are fun though there are a few that don’t make any sense. One other issue when solving a puzzle is that you are not shown what you have unlocked when a puzzle is solved. All you get is a sound effect alerting you that you that a puzzle have been solved, and you only get that once you unlock that sound effect. This means even after solving a puzzle you have to spend time exploring just to find out what was unlocked.
Lemeza main weapon is his whip. It can be use to kill enemies and to destroy vases that can contain cash. You use this cash to buy equipment to help you explore the ruins. There are three main types of equipment: weapons, gear, and software. The weapons include a gun and throwing stars that are used to increase your attack range. Gear such as weights are used to complete puzzles in the ruins. You will spend a lot of time and money buying weights. Almost every puzzle requires you to place a weight somewhere, and after you use one you cant use it again. You buy software to install on Lemeza laptop. This software includes an email app that lets you read emails that contain hints, and translation software that translates the writing in the ruins.
There are plenty of enemies in the game. Each section contains its own unique enemy types. Some are easy to describe such as the skeletons and bats, while others are just plain weird. There is one jumping enemy that can only be described as the robot bad guy from RoboCop with a rats arse for a head! The enemies respawn every time you leave an area, which is both good and bad. It’s good when you are trying to level up, but a pain in the arse when trying to head back when low on health. You will spend a lot of time low on health as this game is hard… unforgivingly hard. Enemies have been placed on each screen to make it as difficult as possible for you to make any progress. There is no way to regain your health within La Mulana. You have to leave La Mulana and head to a hot spring to regain health, and even that is guarded by enemies.
This remake replaces the 8-bit pixel artwork with more up to date sprites. It now looks like a game running on the 16-bit SNES rather than the 8-bit NES. However this remake was originally built for the Wii which was not HD. This means that the graphics look a bit blurred when playing on a high resolution monitor. It doesn’t effect the graphics too much, but in some places the graphics look stretched. The music however sounds great. I can only describe it as epic. It has a very fast tempo that fits the game well.
La-Mulana is the best Indiana Jones style game that you can play today. If your a fan of the 2D (real) Castlevania games then this game is perfect for you. It’s rock hard and unforgiving. Rage quits are a certainty when playing this game. Some of the puzzles don’t make sense and can be a chore to complete, though most are fun. Most people will describe this game as a Metroidvania game, though I think the term Indyvania suits it better.
8 whips cracked out of 10