Sunblaze – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Games From Earth and published by Bonus Stage Limited, Sunblaze is a challenging precision platformer with vibrant pixel art graphics and over 300 levels. This title is inspired by Celeste, with additional accessibility features to make the game approachable for all. This title is available for the Nintendo Switch and computer platforms, links to each version of the game will be available at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Bonus Stage Limited for providing the copy of Sunblaze used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting off with the story.

Story – Josie is a superhero in training going by the name Sunblaze. Aided by her father, a now retired hero sets up a superhero training simulator. However, the training room has gone rogue, with dangerous hazards and pitfalls for the young girl to overcome. With all her skills, can Josie overcome the risks that have infested the simulator and complete her superhero training?

Gameplay – Sunblaze is a precision platformer in the vein of indie hit Celeste, with challenging platform action, dangerous traps and complex puzzle set-ups. The 300+ stages are separated into different chapters made up of increasingly difficult challenges, each with their own unique theming and gimmicks to overcome. The 6 chapters that the player will challenge are broken up with interactive cutscenes that help tell the story throughout, giving greater depth to the overall experience on offer.

As a platformer, this title features a limited move set that the player can use. These moves are a jump, double jump and dash, but be careful as the use of each move is limited to once each while in the air and will only be reset upon touching the ground or another surface. The mechanics for jumping and platforming are smooth, but do have their hiccups as the precision required can lead to death fairly often. But there are systems in place to alleviate any issues players may face.

The developers have included accessibility options to allow players of all skill levels to enjoy the game. These features include unlimited use of jumping and dashes, invincibility and higher jump height, giving players a chance to make it through the challenges with minimal stress. There is also a secondary mode that can be played, called Zen Mode, a more relaxed version of the main story mode that features reduced difficulty and alternate versions of levels.

The overall quality of this title is very high, with a fun but tough challenge that encourages players to push themselves, with a timer system that promotes organic speed running and hidden collectables to find throughout.

Now, with the gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of this title, starting with the controls.  

Controls – Sunblaze uses a very simple control method, with a simple three button input layout which is similar to the classic platform titles of the 80’s and 90’s. The inputs are smooth and have zero lag to them, making the precision aspect of the game very balanced. The action is smooth when using a thumbstick on either a Joy-Con or pro controller, but the d-pad is a much better especially that of a third party controller like the Retro Bit Sega Saturn pad.

Presentation – the visual style of Sunblaze is reminiscent of games from the earlier generations of gaming, with bold pixel art sprites and vibrant colors used for various parts of the game. There are no issues when it comes to the performance, with zero frame drops or lag issues at all. The music has a charm to it that resonates throughout the entire game, it is relaxing at points and helps to reduce the frustrations that players may feel during the more difficult stages.

Final Thoughts – now I will admit that I am not the biggest fan or the best player of hardcore platformers, due to the ridiculous amount of precision required to solve even the most simple puzzle set ups. But with Sunblaze, I feel very different. The challenges don’t feel as punishing as other games, like Super Meat Boy and Dungeon Escape (review coming very soon), which gave this title more staying power for me and made it more enjoyable during long play sessions.

There is a so much that this title does well and very little to complain about, with the only fault that was found being the difficulty that the high level of precision demands. However, it’s certainly no deal breaker as the Dev team took this into consideration with the inclusion when using accessibility features. I fully endorse this title and can happily recommend it to everyone, casual players and speed runners alike. I hope to see more from both the developer and the publisher in the future.

In the end, I give Sunblaze a final score of 5/5. This is the ideal precision platformer for fans new and old, with over 300 challenging levels and two game modes that offer an experience that is fun for all. Great care has been taken to create an experience that everyone can enjoy and the inclusion of accessibility features is the cherry on top. If you want to check this game out for yourself, links to each version will be below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

Link to Steam version (HERE)

Link to G.O.G version (HERE)

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