Treasure Treasure Fortress Forage: Extra Edition

A game by Craig Forrester for Xbox 360, originally released in 2010.

This game was originally released on the PC as Treasure Treasure: Fortress Forage, and was presented in a standard viewer window with a grayscale format (although a fan-made color mod has also been created). The game has been re-released on Xbox Live Indie Games as Treasure Treasure: Fortress Forage: Extra Edition. In addition to adding a dash of assonance to its double dose of alliteration, the XBLIG version offers a few improvements over the original.

The soundtrack has been improved, the resolution has been increased, and the visuals have been completely redone to take on the look of an old handheld system. Rather than the flat gray of the original, the game is now presented in a yellowish color that looks similar to the original GameBoy system (without the blur!). It’s even framed in a mock plastic casing with green power light on the side, and proclaims that it is being displayed on an “Ishisoft Widescreen Dot Matrix”.

Original Title Screen

Extra Edition Title Screen

There are several other presentation improvements as well. For one, the split-screen now moves dynamically based on the 2 characters’ spatial relationship to one another. In the original game, the split was a static line down the center of the screen. Now, if one of the characters moves up off the top of the screen, the split will occur horizontally. It will even slowly change into a diagonal split as the character moves up and to the left or right. This not only maximizes the screen real estate, but also offers the player(s) an idea of where the one character is located in relation to the other.


Extra Edition

The game can be played by 1 or 2 players, but the PC version is more conducive to the single-player experience, since the controls are mapped to either side of the keyboard. In the Xbox 360 version, you’ll either need to find a friend, or tap the Y button to switch back and forth between the characters. In single-player, this swapping mechanic makes it a bit more difficult to coordinate moves, so it’s not quite as smooth as the 2P experience.

You take control of Trixie and Troy as they explore a huge fortress looking for treasure chests. The game takes place over a single continuous level, with 21 chests (20 in the PC version) to be found. The 2 characters have different abilities. Trixie has a slightly higher jump (by about 1 block) and can reach areas that Troy cannot. Troy is somewhat stronger and can push large blocks that Trixie cannot, as well as pick up bombs and toss them, where Trixie can only shove them around.

Due to their individual strengths and weaknesses, it’s imperative that the 2 assist each other in their treasure hunt. For example, if Troy can’t jump high enough to get over a wall, Trixie can stand at the base of the wall and let Troy jump on her head. And this also means that Trixie might help Troy get into an area that he can’t get out of, so he’ll be stuck there until Trixie returns for him.

The game is essentially one large intricate puzzle. Accessing each of the treasure chests requires that you figure out the puzzle’s solution, and it is certainly possible to do something wrong and make a chest inaccessible. This is where the replay value comes in. Your goal is to make it to the exit with all 21 chests in order to get the perfect ending. When you get to the end, you’ll get a tally of all of your treasures, as well as some humorous descriptions of what they are.

Every possible variation of your moveset and environmental interaction is required if you hope to open every chest. This will start out with basic techniques like pushing a block, tossing a bomb to blow open a passage, or dropping an object onto your partner’s head. Eventually, you’ll be required to stack objects, perform long-range bomb detonation, and stand on your partner’s head while they cling to a ladder.

You’re not fighting enemies or racing against the clock, and you can’t be killed by anything in the environment. Standing too close to a detonating bomb will just turn you black for a few seconds, and smoke will rise up from your body in a cartoony fashion. This design allows you to focus on the primary goal of the game, which is exploration. You’re free to try out various puzzle solutions without fear of any punishment other than potentially causing a puzzle to become unsolvable by your own actions.

8 Bit Horse interviews Craig Forrester of Ishisoft. We discuss some of the GameBoy titles that inspired him, how his education helped him in the development of his games, and his fascination with treasure chests. Check out the video interview below, which features some footage of the game in action.

Ishisoft is a UK-based developer, operated solely by Craig Forrester. Ishisoft is probably best known as the developer of the 2D action platformers starring Johnny Platform.

Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp started out as a Nintendo DS homebrew title, which was later ported to XBLIG with some added levels and tweaks to the difficulty balance. The game is a single-screen hop-n-bop platformer where you jump on enemies, avoid spikes and fire spouts, push boxes, roll biscuits (translates as cookies to American gamers), and collect as much coffee as you can. Due to the aspect ratio of the DS hardware, the levels are vertically oriented. New gameplay and challenges were added throughout the Xbox Live Indie Games version. The updated version has 65 levels, as opposed to 55 in the original, and tasks the player with finding ways to kill all of the enemies in the room to open the exit and proceed to the next level.

With the follow-up, Johnny Platform Saves Christmas, Johnny gains a few new abilities. In the original, he could run, jump, double-jump and duck. Now he has the ability to perform a gravity-defying horizontal roll that allows for some basic gap-crossing early on, but also becomes the basis for some dastardly platform-puzzle solutions later, as you encounter situations where you need to roll immediately after landing on an enemy’s head to avoid falling to your death.

Once again, you must kill all of the enemies in the room to open the exit, and there are a few new tricks to be had, including bombs that roll like biscuits, ignite when passing under a flame, and explode shortly thereafter, destroying some types of platforms. This time around, there are 100 levels, and they’re in the more traditional Xbox 360 widescreen presentation, although there are a few vertically-oriented levels tossed in for good measure.

Since the Johnny Platform games, Craig has been working professionally for other studios, while continuing to develop his own games. He worked as a programmer at Full Fat Games, and just completed an iPhone game called Zombie Flick. In this 3D game, you stand still and toss random objects (bananas, soccer balls, lava lamps, etc.) at zombies, trying to take them out as fast as possible, ricocheting objects from one zombie to another to kill several with a single toss, and building up a point multiplier. The player stands still in the middle of an intersection, but is able to turn in 90 degree increments to take out zombies in each of the 4 directions. The goal is to survive until the timer runs down, scoring as many points as possible in the meantime, until a helicopter comes to extract you.

In addition to these full-fledged games, Craig has also worked on a couple of test titles on the PC, including a bullet-dodging game called Bite the Bullets, and an Asteroids-style vector graphics game called, well, Asteroids, which features some 2P co-op modes. And while at university, he created a 3D action-platformer in the vein of Super Mario 64 and starring Dr. Who.

Craig has also remade some of his favorite Amiga titles on the PC. One of these is remake of a domino-toppling puzzle game called Pushover, where you rearrange dominoes to create a huge chain reaction that lets you knock them all down in one shot, with various environmental objects affecting the dominoes in different ways. You’re at war with not only your own wits but a countdown timer as well.

Craig’s other Amiga remake is of a puzzle game called Clockwiser. In this game, the screen is split in two. One side of the screen shows the goal of the puzzle, while the other size is the puzzle itself. The object of the game is to manipulate the puzzle on the left side of the screen so that it matches the image on the right. Different blocks have different properties, and you can use things like bombs and antigravity devices to change the landscape. The game has approximately 125 levels, with several difficulty settings, and an “undo” function in case you accidentally hose yourself. It also has a built-in level editor.

Craig has also partnered with other developers. He has created some sprite art for Wadjet Eye Games’ adventure title Puzzle Bots, and he worked on a collaborative project called Upbot Goes Up for XBLIG, iPhone, and Flash. This is a puzzle game featuring a series of robots that can each move in a different direction. Thus the title, as Upbot goes up, Downbot goes down, etc.