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Evercade Game of the Month 2024 #1: The Curse of Illmoore Bay

1 Tobi

Game of the Month is back for a third year! For the uninitiated, Game of the Month is a programme where Evercade VS and Evercade EXP owners can download a new independently developed game for free between April and December. You can enjoy the full version of the game without limits right up until the next update, at which point it will be replaced by something completely new to try! Next year, all of the Game of the Month titles for this year, plus a few exclusive extras, will be published on the Indie Heroes Collection 4 cartridge, which will likely drop around February.

We kick off this year with The Curse of Illmoore Bay from Second Dimension, the developers who previously brought us the excellent Eyra, The Crow Maiden on Indie Heroes Collection 2. And, like Eyra, The Curse of Illmoore Bay is an audio-visual feast, featuring lush, colourful 16-bit graphics and some excellent music.

In The Curse of Illmoore Bay, the eponymous town has been struck by dark happenings. Nick Nettles, an employee of the local mall, had become fed up with playing Santa Claus year after year, and turned to black magic in an attempt to relieve his frustration.

After chanting the mystical words from the Book of Wicked Carols, he unleashed the dark spirit Umbra into the world, and agreed to help bring about the Ghoultide in exchange for rulership of Illmoore Bay. It would have probably been easier for him to just talk to Human Resources and perhaps his doctor, but when you’re stressed at work you don’t always think entirely rationally.

One thing stands in the way of Nick and Umbra: the legend of Illmoore Bay’s protectors, which dates back to 1346 AD. The ancient writings tell of a coming war between humanity and creatures made of nightmares, and how three protectors had once saved everyone. Now, it is time for them to do so once again.

Once The Curse of Illmoore Bay starts up, you can jump into a one or two player game, access the Options menu to customise your controls or listen to the sounds and music, and check which Awards you’ve unlocked.

Once you choose to begin the game, you can select between three different characters: the witty and sarcastic Cole; the curious prankster Scarlett; and the calm, collected Issa. While all have access to the same basic abilities, their strengths and weaknesses are a little different, so be sure to experiment to find which of the three best fits your play style.

Illmoore Bay is split into a series of areas, each of which consists of several levels. Your aim in each individual level is to find the key to the exit keyhole, then unlock said keyhole and proceed on your way. At the end of the final stage of each area, you’ll face a boss; successfully defeating the boss will not only allow you to access the next area, it will also provide you with a new special ability to make use of.

At the start of the game, Cole, Scarlett and Issa can run, jump, deliver a short-range melee attack or fire a medium-range shot. Using the default control layout, press X to fire the shot, A to jump and B to attack. Note that there’s a limit on how much you can use your special abilities, including the shot. This is represented by the purple bar on the status line at the bottom of the screen, which can be replenished by collecting the blue orbs occasionally dropped by enemies.

To change which special ability is assigned to X, press the Start button to pause the game, then use the D-Pad to select the ability from the Ability Wheel; remember, you’ll only have access to the shot until you beat the first boss. Press Start again to unpause the game, and you can now use the new ability by pressing X. Note that some abilities must be used in the proper context; for example, the “Wings” ability won’t work while you’re on the ground.

There are several optional objectives to complete in each stage: collect all the pieces of candy, defeat all the enemies and finish the stage without taking damage. Some of the pieces of candy and enemies may be hidden, so don’t despair if you don’t attain any of the bonuses right away; you can always return to an earlier stage to challenge it again or make use of special abilities acquired later in the game.

You’ll also find various coloured keys as you progress through the level. The yellowy-gold coloured one unlocks the exit, but other colours unlock other keyholes that can lead to bonuses and ability upgrades. From the map screen between levels, you can see at a glance which of the optional keys and hidden items you’ve discovered for each stage, along with your best score for that level.

The items you will find in the secret areas include health elixirs that increase your maximum life, medallions that will upgrade your special abilities, and mystic drinks that reduce the energy cost of your abilities.

As with the candy and enemy challenges, some of the keys and keyholes will be out of reach when you first encounter them; return to these stages later with new abilities in order to access them.

And that’s The Curse of Illmoore Bay!

To get started with The Curse of Illmoore Bay and the Game of the Month programme for 2024, connect your Evercade VS or EXP to the Internet via the Network option in Settings, then perform a system update to the latest available firmware version.

When you’re all updated, you’re ready to go — start the game through the VS or EXP logo on the left of the main Evercade menu and get ready to fight back against the dark hordes!

Note that we always recommend Evercade users keep their consoles up to date as a matter of course to ensure maximum compatibility with new cartridge releases and implement fixes to known issues. Please see the Evercade support pages for full patch notes; all new firmware updates are cumulative, so update once and you’ll see all the benefits. This update includes our new Library feature.

Please note that saves from the Game of the Month edition of The Curse of Illmoore Bay will not carry across to the Indie Heroes Collection 4 cartridge when that releases in February of 2025 (TBC).

Quelle: Blaze Entertainment

10.04.2024 19:19


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