Orange Island is pastel platformer paradise

A mysterious island covered with strange creatures and dangerous puzzles; Orange Island is an adventure game made with all of the trappings of the 8-bit era.

Orange Island, from Birthday Boy, is a dreamy, 8-bit adventure game which feels completely true to the NES hardware. You switch between five different characters as you attempt to explore a strange island, uncovering new artifacts and abilities which let you venture further — ultimately seeking to save the world from war.

I played through an early build of Orange Island while at EGX, where it featured in the Tentacle Collective, earlier in the year. I was captivated. The music and art-style was so consistent and on-form with its various inspirations that it truly felt like somebody had dug up a lost game from years back and got it running on modern hardware. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of classic enemy monster types similar to those found in older platforms (but notably the Wonder Boy and Adventure Island series).

It’s exceptionally rare for a platform game to capture the feeling of older games; that feeling of every last byte of the disk being used for something on screen, of a team that really wanted to squeeze everything they could into the cartridge.

It was also especially fun that each of the five characters were not simply extra lives or attempts at solving the mysteries of Orange Island; instead, they each have their own statistics, attributes and inventories. I spoke with developer Ted Sterchi about the decision to have so many characters: it all comes down to each of them having their own inventories and abilities — exploration is a key part of the game and while there are metroidvania/adventure-style item and ability gateways within the world, some characters are simply more adept at certain areas than others.

Orange Island is currently early in development, with a Kickstarter campaign on the horizon. It is being developed for PC platforms at the moment, although I should hope a NES cartridge version is viable, too.

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