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Image credit: OneBitBeyond

‘Swords of Ditto’ scratches that retro ‘Zelda’ itch

And does it with some heavy 'Adventure Time' vibes.
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Washed up on the beach, you, young boy/girl/robot, are the hero that will save the island of Ditto. Or you'll fail and plunge the land into a hundred years of darkness until another hero is born. OneBitBeyond's The Swords Of Ditto lets you control one tiny adventurer at a time, and if when you die, the Big Evil (some sorceress of some kind) fries you on the spot, you won't live to fight another day. However, someone else will claim your hero's sword and continue the struggle. That's the crux, but it's how OneBitBeyond has executed it, in a top-down action RPG that leans heavily on SNES-era Zelda (and some Secret Of Mana), with a punchy cartoon style that belies the small team behind it all.

If you have watched the announcement trailer (you should), you can tell that there's an awful lot of love baked into the game, which lands on PS4 and PC next year. Even the randomly generated hero (it can be a robot, yes!) somehow endears itself to me during a mere 30-minute hands-on play.

I'm playing alongside OneBitBeyond's Jonathan Biddle, who explains (and shows off) a sample of secondary weapons you earn to complement your sword. There's lighting paper to set foes and grass on fire and a bow and arrow (of course) as well as more esoteric weapons like a Nerf gun (which does no damage but can trigger switches), a golf club, a huge horse chestnut mace and many more. These work not only as weapons, but they also help you progress through dungeons and weaken the big end boss. (You could attack her right at the start of the game, but I was warned that would not end well...)

Yep, two adventurers can play alongside each other, which makes some enemies easier to take down, but sometimes makes some puzzles harder -- timed platform jumping is not a fun team activity.

Besides your home town, the world you explore is regenerated each time your hero dies: Dungeons are also redrawn, enemy placement redistributed and puzzles swapped around. Not that you'll have to struggle across the map to hop from distant dungeons to home: just summon a trans-dimensional bus with a kazoo. Don't worry, the whimsy isn't cloying, and some of the characters already teased, like a feline fight arena teacher or a sweaty octopus stewing in a hot spring bath will likely pull you further into the game. Never underestimate the power of silly ideas and cute design.

The game is a lot of fun, especially combining multiple weapons and gadgets for extra destruction. And while the game is headed for PC and PS4 next spring, given the cooperative play option and how much inspiration it takes from the guy in green with the pointy ears, is it too much to ask for a Switch port?

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