Adventure Bit

A game by Seep for PC, originally released in 2021.
Adventure Bit is a retro-style single-screen platformer modeled after the games of the MSX console in visual, audio, and gameplay styles. In particular, the male protagonist, Harry, has a lot in common with the hero of the classic MSX game La-Mulana, given that he wears a green outfit and wields a bullwhip. Of course, the design of both characters was also heavily influenced by the iconic Indiana Jones (and Harry could be short for Harrison). The game also features a female protagonist named Lana (another possible reference to La-Mulana) with the same skillset, and the game may be played alone or with a friend in 2P local co-op.
The player is tasked with exploring an ancient Aztec temple and the surrounding jungle while fighting enemies and collecting treasures along the way, with the most valuable treasures coming in the form of crystal skulls (another reference to the adventures of Dr. Jones). The game is deceptively simple, offering only a Novice mode to start, and 12 easy levels (plus three treasure rooms) before the player reaches the end of the game… but it’s not over.
Upon completing Novice mode, a Beginner mode is unlocked. Rather than offering the exact same levels with tougher enemies, the game instead offers 12 brand new levels (plus three treasure rooms) set in the same four themed areas. Completing Beginner mode opens up Adventurer mode, followed by Explorer, Archaeologist, and Legend modes. Each new difficulty setting offers new level layouts, more enemies, and new hazards. In order to see everything the game has to offer, you’ll need to play through all six difficulty modes, completing 96 levels in all.
You can move to the left and right, and perform a 2.5x nonvariable jump. You can climb up and down ladders and vines, and you can drop off of them, but you cannot jump from them. Finally, you have a whip attack that lets you strike enemies a short distance in front of you. Enemies take three hits, with most being stunned momentarily following a successful strike, and upon the third hit, they become tied up. You have a few seconds to then touch tied up enemies to knock them off the screen before they reactivate. Enemies consist of hopping frogs, flying bats, loping mummies, slithering snakes, and the occasional guard with a gun.
Getting the timing of your whip attacks right is of utmost importance given that most enemies are mobile – following simple left-and-right patrol routes – and it’s often not possible to hit an enemy three times before it can reach your position, so you may need to strike and then move out of the way or jump over the enemy as it passes. In most levels, you need to kill every onscreen enemy to open the door to the exit.
You begin the game with five lives, but getting hit by an enemy or level hazard kills you instantly. However, treasure rooms appear every three levels, and collecting all of the coins in a treasure room grants you a 1UP. In addition, the game is only saved at treasure rooms, so losing all of your lives will force you to reload a save and lose some progress, but this is a mild penalty given the brevity of the levels.
Treasure rooms are dead easy on the lower difficulty settings, simply requiring that you collect 20 coins before a generous timer runs down. On the higher difficulty settings, the number of coins to collect increases, but the timer does not. Collecting 50 coins in the same amount of time is more challenging, but still with reach of players who have the skill to get that far into the game.
Each treasure room has a certain number of coins out in the open, which may be freely collected, but they also contain a pair of coin dispensing statues that only drop a coin once the alternate statue’s coin has been collected. So once the room is empty of coins, the player must then run back and forth between these two statues to collect coins one at a time.
New challenges are added as the game goes on, including ghost enemies that cannot be killed with your whip. Instead, you must use your whip to attack a burning fire, which transforms it into a flame whip. The flame whip can be used to kill ghosts in a single strike and also to light torches. Lighting torches is often required to reveal treasure chests or open the level exit, which is an example of the minor puzzle solving required to complete some levels. The player sometimes needs to trigger a chest to gain a key to the level exit, or activate a lever to open the path forward.
Other hazards include falling platforms, popup spikes, rolling boulders, dart traps, and bombs. Bombs can be particularly tricky since you pick them up by touching them and all you can do is toss them. They count down automatically, flashing when they’re about to explode. Early on, bombs are used to clear certain blocks, but later the player is tasked with using them to defeat ghosts, requiring the proper timing to hit airborne moving targets.
Each level has a crystal skull, and this stands as an optional secondary objective. If you manage to collect them all, you receive a friendly fanfare message at the end of the level, as well as a notification in the “scorekeeper” menu. Crystal skulls also worth more points than any other treasure. That said, skulls are sometimes hidden behind foreground objects, beyond false walls, or triggered by events within the level, and it’s possible to mess up and miss a skull with no way to get back to it. This comes mostly from jumping up through 1-way platforms with no way to get back down. From here, the only recourse is to reload a save or to get yourself killed, which returns you to the level’s starting point.
The game's default difficulty setting lures the player in with its basic mechanics and pushover challenge, and then slowly ramps things up to expert levels… but the difficulty curve is extremely steady, and players learn valuable lessons on lower difficulty settings that pay off when things start to get really tough. The game features a limited tileset, MSX-limited color palette and audio, and the ability to add scanlines for a more authentic retro experience.

2D CRED
Adventure Bit was developed by Seep, a studio based in Turin, Italy and founded in 2015 by brothers Sergio and Enrico Giansoldati. The studio focuses on retro-style games, with releases including SEEP Universe, Abduction Bit, Dragon Climax, Super Boo Quest, Katana Soul, and Thunderflash. The game’s main theme was composed by Andrea Baroni, and level music was composed by Stennish.


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