Thanks to ANCIENT for the review code
Title: Gotta Protectors
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: 07/28/2016
In yet another retro-themed game, you take control of a squadron of heroes known as the Gotta Protectors as they fight to solve the mysterious increase of monsters spreading all across the land of Magicdia!
Apparent from a rather pointless option to blow into a virtual cartridge to start-up the game, this game is really, really faithful to the NES/Famicom era, almost to the point that it takes full advantage of that era’s visual style by directly copying straight from it instead of doing a cheap imitation like many other titles. Of course, NES era games weren’t perfect with their performance, since lots of actors could cause flicker or slow things down to horrible levels, but Gotta Protectors is smart enough to ignore those flaws, using a visual style that remains clean and smooth throughout the entire experience.
Music and Sound
By default, the game will use the standard NES/Famicom soundfont for the background music and sound effects, with only a few themes that play during the 100 levels, meaning you’ll likely be used to the main field theme by the end of the adventure. While these themes did remind me a bit of the GBC Pokemon TCG soundtrack, they didn’t seem to add much to the experience for me, getting drowned out by the sound effects and constant action. Speaking of which, the sound effects fit with the audio style quite well, with some muffled voice samples thrown in as well.
However, what somewhat saves the OST from being a dull, repetitive mess is in the future. Planned to launch with the game, an FM sound mode will be available as a DLC pack for $8, which at first seemed to me like a really steep price until I gave the FM OST a listen on youtube.
Needless to say, it’s a significant improvement over the default soundfont in every possible way, and fans of the PC88 like myself will absolutely love the way that the tracks were remastered. In fact, the same composer of the PC88 version of Ys made these rearrangements, which in my book is a good enough indicator for the DLC pack’s quality. Needless to say, hopefully the certification issues get resolved soon so that this DLC pack can enjoyed by a wider audience. (EDIT: The FM Sound Pack is now available)
The main goal of the game is to complete each of the five chapters, going through many stages to defend Princess Lola, all while clearing the stages of enemies. Usually you’ll have to be wary of stage gimmicks such as color-coded blocks, colored doors, or currents as you explore every part of the stage. It’s a premise that sounds like a typical tower defense game, but instead it feels more like a Warriors game, with a focus on defeating hordes of enemies as quickly as possible and leveling up to use special skills, some of which are unique to certain classes.
For example, the Mage (My class of choice) is really good with magic spells, being able to deal devastating amounts of damage with a full powered ice attack. Unfortunately, he gets beaten around a lot and some of the later enemies can knock him out in a few hits. Thankfully, even if you run out of health, you’ll just respawn right next to wherever the princess is, losing a bit of gold as a result. This allows for more risky situations away from the Princess, while also stressing how important it is to keep enemies away from her. Two specific skills, Barricade and Turret are crucial to use in the long run, as these skills are where the gold comes into play, with both getting sturdier depending on the amount of gold you spend on one, giving you a peace of mind as you’re hunting down the generators.
During the course of your adventure, you’ll unlock some helpful shops such as the Dojo or Shoppe, both of which will help to upgrade skills and weapons while also gaining new ones that unlock depending on the materials you gather from defeated enemies. Of course, just having the materials won’t cut it for these stores, since you’ll need to save up some gold to upgrade their buildings if you want to level your skills up to their full potential. There’s also a Ring Shop which randomly gives you a ring depending on how much gold and materials you feed it, which I never really used that much due to the random nature.
Outside of going to a stage, defeating every enemy and upgrading skills, the game really doesn’t change up that much, save for the occasional boss battle where you need to focus on a powerful enemy before they reach the princess. Still, I found the majority of levels to be fair and balanced while also providing a tough challenge if the need arises. Once you complete the last level, you’ll unlock the Hard difficulty setting, which sends stronger enemies to the earlier stages to give a new challenge, which is a nice way to revisit older stages once you grow in strength. Unfortunately, the difficulty setting is like starting a New Game Plus of sorts, meaning you’ll have to clear the stages all over again while retaining your weapons and levels from the previous game. You can change back to the Easy/Normal setting at any time, but having to redo the main story just to try out all the levels is a bit of a bummer.
Finally, we arrive at the most interesting feature in Gotta Protectors, the level editor. Being able to create your own levels and challenges, you can send these over the internet using QR Codes, allowing for others to try the crazy challenges you create. Heck, right off the bat you can spawn the final boss of the game if you are up for an impossible challenge. Just don’t try using this feature to grind for gold, however since you’ll get taxed on your earnings in custom levels, preventing you from cheating your way towards getting the more expensive upgrades.
In conclusion, despite how cheesy the story can get sometimes, Gotta Protectors manages to stay fun from beginning to end, which is a trait not many games can vouch for today. During the five chapters of strategy and addicting action, I was enjoying myself the whole way through, even with some minor drawbacks such as levels that get a bit too crazy or the randomness of the Ring system. Honestly, this is perhaps the absolute best a retro tribute has ever been in recent years, successfully implementing all the good traits from the classic era without all the cheap difficulty and technical frustrations.
It’s by no means perfect, with a repeating story mode and those minor drawbacks I just mentioned, but it’s a really addicting adventure that I do think is worth the buy. There’s even Co-Op support with the ability to use Download Play, but unfortunately I’m currently unable to test the multiplayer. Nevertheless, I give Gotta Protectors a 9 out of 10, and strongly urge fans of the Warriors series, Tower Defense games or anyone looking for an accurate retro throwback to check this title out. $13 may seem like a steep price, (Especially if you want to add the $8 DLC) but the game’s quality along with some post-story achievements assure that you’ll get your money’s worth in the end.