PC Reviews

Devolver Bootleg brought me back to my childhood grey market videogaming days

Things look familiar, but aren't exactly what you think they are. Or are they?

I fondly remember the days spent playing video games as a kid for a number of reasons, the weirdest of them has to definitely be because a lot of them were bootleg games. We didn’t have a whole lot of options back then, with Nintendo offering little to no support, videogaming in South America during the late 1980s and early 1990s was a pretty difficult hobby to maintain due to the sheer fact that the official products were usually impossible to obtain without importing and paying absurd taxes and tariffs.

So when Devolver announced that they’d be putting out a collection of games in the style of some of the old bootlegs I used to play, I couldn’t help but have a laugh — I mean, how were they going to do it? Considering their unique approach to the games industry, I couldn’t imagine them spending the amount of care that they have for this collection. For as crappy as some of these might look at first glance, they’re actually pretty darn good games, and thanks to the incredible job done for its presentation, a “perfect” recreation of something I would play as a kid: a crappy one tone menu and crudely put together lists of games, which include:

Enter The Gun Dungeon, Hotline Milwaukee, Ape Out Jr., Shootyboots, Super Absolver Mini: Turbo Fighting Championship, Catsylvania, PikuBiku Ball Stars, and Luftrousers.

Catsylvania_001
Watch out! It’s Catsylvania!

As you can probably tell, these are all faux pirated versions of a bunch of games published by Devolver, including a spoof on the recently released Gato Roboto, but under the guise of a Castlevania knockoff that’s also a lot like Ghosts and Goblins! Damn, I can’t even say I disliked any of the games included in this collection, every single one had something I really dug, be it Hotline Milwaukee’s even quicker paced level structure when compared to its obvious original, as you keep heading further and further into a basement, eventually reaching hell, or Shootyboots, which if it weren’t for the name, I could totally see being a prototype or even a simpler version of Downwell, not losing one bit of gameplay even though it’s meant to be a cheap knock-off.

Some of the knock offs included even support two players, like PikuBiku Ball Stars, a basketball game of sorts that has two elastic characters from Pikuniku duke it out while trying to score a point, or Super Absolver Mini: Turbo Fighting Championship, which is exactly what the name suggests, a brawler in the vein of Street Fighter II, but with masked fighters from Absolver… well, not Absolver, but close to anyway, they wouldn’t want to get sued. Or would they? Hm…

Devolver_Bootleg_v008_Devolver_Bootleg_Screenshots_2019-06-03_11.37.48
You have no idea how much this screen takes me back. Ah…

In that regard, maybe there’s something that could be considered a negative if you take into account the idea behind this collection: the games are just too good, even if they’re purposefully made to be bad. It’s not the kind of good that springs from the bad being so bad it eventually goes around the bend and becomes acceptable, but these things are actually playable and a lot of fun to play. The whole joke around the collection makes it even more appealing, not to mention the price, which up to the time of writing this, is offering a staggering 1% off of every purchase! What a steal!

Whatever are your feelings towards Devolver, you have to admit they have a lot of incredible developers, and even when attempting to make something meant to be terrible, doinksoft, the devs behind Gato Roboto, nail it so well. Devolver Bootleg is a lot of fun to play. Sure, the games are much simpler and aren’t long at all, but the entire package is put together so hilariously well that if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to help but have a laugh.  

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