Montezuma’s Revenge: 8-Bit Edition (Switch eShop)- Review

Thanks to NAMI TENTOU for the review code

Title: Montezuma’s Revenge: 8-Bit Edition
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop
Price: $11.99
Release Date: 02/16/2023


Back in the early 80s, Parker Bros released a pretty robust platformer for a variety of platforms, with a light exploratory vibe to it that was way before games like Metroid were a thing. Recently ported to NES, Montezuma’s Revenge (a name I didn’t know had unfortunate connotations before recently looking it up) tasks you with controlling the main character as he explores a vast temple in search of treasure; just like the old days, that’s as much story as you need to get exploring!


Being the third NES emulation release from Nami Tentou so far, this has a similar presentation to the prior two, mainly Orebody pre-patch and Beebis II in that there are no save state options available whatsoever, but a scanned manual, a decent CRT filter and a border, and a few misc extras to play around with, which in Montezuma’s case are some neat press photos from the 80s along with images of the recent merch for the NES Kickstarter. It even sports in-game maps in the included manual, but unfortunately the scan of it provided in-game is a bit too blurry to zoom into the exact details of each room.

In terms of the game itself, this is the original game brought to a simple NES palette, and it looks rather nice, feeling like it could have fit in alongside other mid 80s NES titles. The colors and animations are just as you’d expect, and the background music is a fairly simple, yet cheerful track that compliments the sound effects well. Items are distinct and the rooms are detailed well enough to get an idea on what you’re supposed to be doing, and unlike Orebody, I had zero issues with the audio emulation here in any capacity.


Montezuma’s Revenge is a metroidvania of sorts… Except it came out before either of those two franchises were a thing. Basically your main goal is to collect treasure from a temple, grabbing keys to open doors to further parts of the temple, with your only techniques being to move and jump around each of the many rooms. The first level is a simple, semi-linear affair until the second half of it allows you to take some different paths to get the keys you need, and is a decent taste of the game, while the manual shows off the two other distinct maps, including how these maps would get altered variants that put you in darkness and require you to use a torch or just your sheer wit to navigate.


However, per the norm for a game like this, your character is incredibly fragile: everything kills him in one hit, and if he falls from too high a height without a rope to catch him, he’ll die on impact. Thus, each room requires careful precision to navigate in order to clear everything out and get the items you need, and if you take too long a bird will swoop in and take you to an early demise. You start with five lives, and get more via points, but those points really mostly depend on how far you make it in the stage, since the scoring here is pretty simple. Once you lose them all, you go back to the title screen, old-school style.


On one hand, this means the game is pretty fun to mess around with, and work to slowly get further and further each time. There’s even some handy items to support you in a good pinch, from knives that can knock out one enemy in your path, to items that’ll give you brief invincibility to run past some annoying hazards. However, for the most part this means you’ll have to deal with enemies with good ol’ fashioned dodging, and some rooms can be really brutal about this. Thankfully, the game gives some mercy in that if you die, the enemy who killed you will despawn from the room, giving you another go at clearing it. Still, with limited lives, big stages, and a lot of backtracking if you game over, this game is definitely a faithful NES port, almost to a fault.

Screen Shot 2023-02-26 at 11.15.14 PM

While I don’t consider the lack of save states to be a real dealbreaker or anything, I do consider it a little bit of a bummer that by default, you can only explore the first area until you beat it, with future areas opening up on a stage select basis once you clear the previous one. Part of me would have really liked to mess around in the future stages without having to unlock them, and no save state feature means that this game’s old-school difficulty can be rather harsh for newcomers. Still, I at least enjoyed my time attempting to beat the stage, and with more trial and error this challenge definitely can be overcome: just don’t expect any modern QOL features, this is basically stock hardware!


In conclusion, Montezuma’s Revenge got a very solid NES port, and this emulation of it was done pretty decently. The bonus scans are nice, if a bit blurry, the game controls decently and the CRT filter remains as solid as always. That being said, the lack of any save state features or the ability to disable the High-Score display on the top-right on the screen (which gets awkwardly buried by the 4:3 display option) can make this port feel rather basic, in that yes, you are getting a good version of a classic game that helped set the standards for exploratory games of the future, but with little else to it outside of a stage select.

Definitely a great release for those previously familiar with the game or willing to learn it with trial and error, but a bit of a tougher ask for newcomers, especially for the unusually steep pricing: for over $10, I’d at least hope for some more bonuses or modes/options, but as it stands right now, this is at least a well-done port, just one a little hard to recommend for those who hope for more than a basic job.

I give Montezuma’s Revenge: 8-Bit Edition a 6 out of 10.

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