Solstice (NES) Review


Solstice is a 1990 puzzle orientated game for the NES developed by Software Creations and published by 3 different companies (Epic/Sony Records in Japan, CSG Imagesoft in America and Nintendo for Pal regions). The plot of the game is that you are a wizard called Shadax who must save Princess Eleanor from Morbius the Malevolent in Kastlerock by finding the 6 pieces of the Staff of Demnos that happen to be hidden there.

Oddly the game doesn’t really have what you’d call a title screen and instead has rolling opening credits with some demo play of levels as well until you press start but the game gives you a nice chiptune to listen to and I believe it lasts longer than you’d think. I’m not entirely sure seeing some of the gameplay so frequently was 100% good although it did help show of the sort of stuff you might not have immediately thought of.

When you do press start you are shown one of the very oldschool types of cutscenes where Princess Eleanor gets kidnapped by Morbius with Shadax there using the ingame graphics but with text boxes with more detailed looks at the 3 characters. After that you are thrown straight into the game.

As soon as you get into the game you can tell that the graphics had aged quite alot but the music was still quite nice. As for controls they were easy with A being a bit of an awkward looking but working jump and B letting you pick up some movable objects when you are on top of them and place what you’re holding below you (so you can stack them up).

It didn’t take me very long to get lost even with the partial map which means you either need great memory of some pens and paper (no walkthroughs allowed), it really felt like a maze with loads of different rooms to look around in. The only real problem was the fact your character was a 1 hit wonder and therefore you needed to be quite good to get anywhere although the developers seemed to acknowledge that and there is an ingame code that gives you 90 lives (and the potions).

Without using the code I at least got 3 of the pieces and was proud of myself for even getting that far especially with some of the stuff you had to do. I worked out myself that there was a cool little trick where you could jump off items the second you place them in order to get what is essentially a double jump (with a TAS I watched pulling off a triple jump).

Watching a playthrough after my own attempts brought up a flaw of sorts, the game took strategy, skill, patience and a tonne of luck but the ending was extremely lackluster. While its obviously not what they say its essentially a “I win” “No you lose” situation and nothing really happens. It doesn’t matter if you take the time and insane skill to get 100% either (although thankfully there isn’t a time limit because that’d be evil even if more interesting).

Overall its quite an interesting game but perhap the graphics downgraded my experience a bit. Sadly unlike other games I mention that have aged I’m not sure this sort of thing would have the player base large enough to warrant remaking it although if someone wanted to do it I’d probably try it.

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