Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a classic platforming adventure brought to you by Badland Indie and Drakhar Studios. If you’ve ever played games like Spyro the Dragon (if you haven’t, I am ashamed!) or Banjo-Kazooie then you know the score.
In a world guarded by a mystical ancient power which draws its power from a shiny blue crystal, the residents of the land (who are cuter versions of The Smurfs) go about their cheerful lives in peace… until the crystal is mysteriously destroyed and the adventure begins.
You take control of a cute little blue guy named “Ginger” (strange name for a blue creature with no hair, but I’m not judging) as the “Chosen One” whose mission is to travel the land and restore power to all the crystals which have turned an evil shade of crimson. If red is your favourite colour, like mine, I’m very sorry, but the rules are simple – make all the red crystals blue.
As the game begins, you’re given a short tutorial on which buttons do what (there’s not much to learn) and sent on your way to the first village where the destruction is evident through the demolished houses lying about town. A nice little extra to this game is having to rebuild the villages by collecting certain items and rescue villagers by spending small currency crystals at a much larger crystal in the centre of the village. As you can probably guess by now, there are a LOT of crystals in this game – but surely you could’ve guessed that from the name of the game?
As you start to restore the village to its former glory, weird plant/mirror/portals open up leading you to the platform levels where you’ll have to hop, skip and punch your way through beautifully crafted lands to reach the end. Each level hosts a couple of small puzzles, levers galore, a couple of menacing enemies to fight and, of course, more crystals. Certain levels will also lead you to weird characters caught in a glass tube – rescue these characters and for some reason they give you their outfit – don’t worry, there’s no nudity so you can play Beyond the Crystal with the kiddies (it’s quite addictive so the kids may not get a chance on the controller, but they can watch and enjoy the pretty colours). Each new costume you get has its own special abilities which will help you along the way – the first gives you a guitar (I never said the costumes made sense) which lets you copy the sequence of notes and open up new paths. There’s even a cute little mouse costume which shrinks you even more to fit through tiny spaces. Throughout the game, the varied costumes will each play a part in the levels and some are even required to open up the next section of the game.
From the second I started playing, the soundtrack gave me the nostalgic warm and fuzzies and I found myself dashing from one level to the next for hours and hours. After telling myself a couple of times “I’ll start the review tonight” I put the controller down and found that it was way past my bedtime.
The enemies in the game are nothing scary – like I said, it’s a kids game, but there are a few bosses where you have to work out their sequence to defeat them. As for the regular baddies, whether it’s the gassy pigs or zombie frogs, a quick one-two punch and they’re down giving you more crystals to spend.
As you’re rebuilding each village, the market comes to town (on the back of a weird looking Bulbasaur) and you can buy a few fun items which your villagers will wear around town – the clown nose or gentleman’s moustache always make me smile.
A lot of platform adventures can become quite repetitive and in the end you find yourself just wanting to finish the game, but Beyond the Crystal has a lot of variety within its levels. There are also small “side quests” around town to help villagers collect items or timed races to receive rewards, and when big red crystals appear in town – jump into the crystal and you’re ‘wooshed’ away to a small platform-filled level where you have to purify a certain number of crystals.
There’s really not much to say about such a beautifully simple game – it looks good, sounds good, it’s fun to play and if you’re looking for a nice, easy, cute platform adventure to remind you of the 90’s, this is the one for you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a guitar playing, wizard-hat-wearing, mousey blue guy.
Karl Rating 8/10
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