This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Adam Smith had written about this awhile back, an 8-bit inspired, retro arcade game inspired by Ghosts 'n Goblins called Maldita Castilla by indie developer Locomalito and it's utterly worth trying out – along with everything else that Locomalito has in his collection.
Maldita Castilla only has a demo so far, but it's loaded with old-school charm and 8-bit ear candy bringing me back to Arthur's early days with Capcom. It's still a work in progress so death dealing dragons could be on the way courtesy of the Black Tiger influence Locomalito hints at. You know, just to make it harder.
All one has to do is download it, extract it to a folder, and double click on the .exe file to get things started. It's limited in how to set it up, but it ran cleanly on my PC (ESC exits the game).
Controls for Maldita Castilla are simple – to start the game, hit Z. Z also controls jumping and X attacks. The Knight can attack both up, down (after jumping), and of course, to both sides. The demo ends after a tough fight to beat down the obilgatory boss monster. Or when your lives run out. This is strictly rulers-to-knuckles consequences.
Poking around Locomalito's, he's also developed a Gradius-inspired title called Hydorah that's worth playing for SHMUP fans and for its solid soundtrack. Then there's 8bit Killer. It's simple stuff – think id's Doom in 8-bit – but it does have a number of creative baddies to tickle your timing reflexes with. The retro cut scenes (complete with a mysterious stranger) and soundtrack were also big pluses. There's even an exploring game, L'Abbaye des Morts, that copies the low-res look of the Spectrum ZX.
And they're free. As in no strings attached, or that they're on a timer and will suddenly be unplayable after a certain amount of time. If you like them enough to donate, there's an option for that, too, though Locomalito's philosophy makes it clear that he crafts these for his love of the scene as an old schooler at heart.
Bleeding edge graphics cards, the constant one-upmanship played by consoles over the years, CD-ROMs, DVDs, the competition between engines like id Tech and Unreal…all of that was rolled into an Indiana Jones-sized boulder of unrelenting progress that didn't want to look back on jaggies or MIDI.
Now, developers from Locomalito to Capcom are no longer shy about using a palette of 8-bit visuals and chiptunes in gaming's equivalent of an artistic movement. It could be the nostalgia that I have for the old arcades or the NES that makes it especially fun to play games that hearken back to those heady days. But whatever the case might be, I just know that I'm excited to see more.