The gameplay of Solomon's Key is deceptively simple. As Dana, you have the power to both create and destroy platforms. The goal of each level is to find the eponymous key, and make it through the exit. In order to do this you must build and destroy blocks to reach your goals. Of course, there are plenty of obstacles in your way, like fire breathing gargoyles, spinning faces of death, glowing orbs of energy, and an ever decreasing time limit. To make it even harder, Dana has no direct way of attacking his enemies -- apart from the occasional scroll that allows him to shoot a single fireball. Instead, Dana must use his abilities creatively to avoid or destroy his enemies. For instance, the gargoyles can be killed by knocking the ground out from under them, forcing them to fall to their death. Other enemies must be trapped or redirected by creating platforms to block their path.
As mentioned above, Solomon's Key gets fiendishly difficult in later levels (64 in all). The early levels are fairly simple and can be tackled in myriad different ways. The later levels, on the other hand, require actual planning and forethought to win. These levels require precise timing; one slip up and Dana will have to start over. Even Dana's limited fireballs must be used at the right times in order to proceed.
It would be easy enough for Tecmo to add a few features to Solomon's Key and make it truly worthy of XBLA. Leaderboards are a must, of course. Add some versus, co-op, and HD graphics, and Solomon's Key could be a real stand out title for Xbox Live Arcade. Oh, and unlimited continues. We would need unlimited continues.
For next week's edition of "That should be on XBLA," we have a little assignment for you. We're thinking action, something from the 16- or 32-bit era. Got any ideas? Stick 'em in the comments and we'll pick next week's game from there.
- Solomon's Key in 27 minutes (gameplay)