Last time I touched base with 8-Bit Legit, I got to play Full Quiet, an incredible effort that on one front was the realization of a current day open-world game at the same time it was a real NES title. Now, the focus is on the tried and true platformer genre with Project Blue, a very Mega Man-inspired game with simple gameplay and tricky level design.
Escaped from a top secret research laboratory, as the titular Blue, you have to make your way through all manner of dangerous traps and other failed experiments before reaching freedom. Much like the games that inspired it, Project Blue is true to its nature as a sometimes nail-bitingly tough platformer that rewards trial and error.
While that’s not a fault I would place squarely on the shoulders of this game by itself, since it’s a constant element in the genre, there’s something to be said about having to repeat sections of a game before you get a perfect run and succeed in making it to the next checkpoint. In Project Blue‘s case, that is somewhat alleviated by the generous checkpoint placement, but is still present.
Your main skills are about all you get throughout the whole adventure. You can basically run, jump and shoot, and that’s about it. If you’ve grown used to playing games with the design philosophy of Metroid and later generation Castlevania games in the vein of Symphony of the Night, you’ll probably find yourself disappointed by the simplicity of this game.
Then again, this is the perfect case for developing muscle memory when playing videogames, and once you get used to its slight delay controls-wise, there’s something to be said about the feeling of accomplishment that comes with mastering entire sections of this game.
That’s especially the case with Project Blue, since most of the upgrades that you do pick up are temporary at best, either going away at death or after a certain number of uses, making the game feel like a bit like a roguelite, but not fully embracing the juice, if you catch my drift.
Since placement for enemies and items remain the same on every run, without relying on randomness at all, it makes for a game that can easily be memorized and mastered, something that I fully expect to see being run at an Awesome Games Done Quick by someone who is way better at games than I am.
For someone with a casual love of retro games such as what is presented in Project Blue, I can certainly see the value of a project with a very limited scope such as this. The developers didn’t try to aim for the moon and overpromise, instead choosing to focus on a very particular slice of gaming, and in that, they have succeeded in making this feel exactly like it should.
Then again, if you are the sort that looks for more depth in a game that’s apparent from the beginning, you’ll simply won’t find it in Project Blue. That would easily count as a negative for any other game, but due to how that’s obviously not what the folks behind this were going for with it, it gets a pass from me. It is what it is, and if you’re the sort that can accept the imposed limitation and enjoy it for what it’s going for, there’s quality time to be had here.