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Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan Review – Old School Never Felt So Good

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

Review code provided by the developer

If you’re like me and grew up with a lot of retro games influencing your gaming habits, you undoubtedly remember the days where death resets you the beginning of a stage, and challenging boss fights. Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan is the game that you will thoroughly enjoy if you enjoy the Shovel Knight games. Using the same familiar graphics style, the game offers a blend of difficult bosses, carefully placed checkpoints and new weapons to help you on your Mayan journey.

Story

The story of Sydney Hunter revolves around him stumbling into a Mayan temple, and a deity named Kukulkan has stolen the temple’s Haab calendar and scattered them across 7 different realms. Your job is to restore the 7 pieces of the calendar in 5 days to prevent time freezing forever.

Your journey takes you to various parts of the temple, but you can only access certain doors after collecting a set number of crystal skulls to unlock the doors in the temple.

Along the way, you have to fight challenging bosses with new weapons, and keep in mind the limited lives you have at your disposal.

Gameplay

If you’ve played the original Castlevania games, you will feel well at home. Sydney must be related to the Belmont family as he has the same jump and whip animations as the famous family.

It not only reminds you of the strong Castlevania aesthetic due to its crumbling walls and the strong presence of stone all around you, but you also face menacing enemies who take away a part of your life with each accidental bump and fall.

The game has plenty of breakable walls and secret paths to explore, but keep in mind that leaving and coming back to an area you were just in will respawn the enemies you just killed. So make sure you think twice about going to a new area, especially if you’re low on hearts.

You need to meticulously plan and execute each jump, every strike. Losing all your hearts restores you to the start of the level or the last save point you rested at.

Along the way, you pick up a variety of weapons to help you on the journey towards rebuilding the calendar. These weapons add to the variety of combat but also opening new pathways in the temple. The game has a lot of branching paths, and while exploration is rewarded, you are also punished for it. Anytime you leave an area and return to it, the enemies of that area will respawn.

Screenshots:

Sound

The audio does a superb job with the music and other parts of the game to give 80’s and 90’s gamers running nostalgia. There is no voice over for characters, so all interactions are done through scrolling texts like the good ol’ days.

If you are a fan of the old days of sound design, this game is right up your alley.

Value

This isn’t a game that you will have any difficulty in running. It’s on the PC, Xbox One, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch and it runs smooth as silk on each platform with no problems. it currently costs $19.99 USD, and if you are a fan of the genre, looking for a fix of a hole left in you by Shovel Knight, this is the game you are looking for.

Verdict

It’s a game that can only be appreciated by fans of retro games. If you think you can speedrun your way through the game and have a checkpoint after every two minutes, you’re going to be in for a bad time. Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan rewards the patient. Only get into the game if you have played games like the NES Castlevania games.

Pros:

  • A great game for the genre. If you’re looking for a good blend of a game that rewards exploration with old school platforming.
  • The music you can mellow out to on a ride home.
  • Rewarding gameplay means this is only for people who are familiar with the genre.
  • Good boss fights that actually challenge player thinking and technique.
  • Light and easy to run on anything.

Cons:

  • The lack of autosave could be a dealbreaker for some, but equally a plus for some. This isn’t a con as much as it’s based on the perspective of the buyer. Early in the game, it is infuriating to die a lot until you master it.

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