The Dwarves Vs. 8BitBoy

What better way to start this new set of Versus than to compare two games that have Dwarves! (Well… 8BitBoy’s character is just short, but I’ll take what I can get eh?) First up, we’ve got The Dwarves by KING Art Games, a game based off of a book I’m fairly sure I’m spoiling for myself. Secondly we’ve got 8BitBoy by AwesomeBlade, which is a game based off nostalgia. The Dwarves is an adventure of epic proportions across a vast land with some fairly difficult fights ahead of you that allows you to pause and adjust combat choices on the fly. 8BitBoy is a 2D platformer that spans quite a few levels with some very tricky hidden things to find and attain… and for comparison, allows you to pause and ponder why it is you just jumped off that edge without planning ahead and then contemplate your demise. Let’s break these games down shall we?

The models all look very good, but have a bit of a plasticy appearance. It can be off-putting, but overall, I think it looks great.

The models all look very good, but have a bit of a plasticy appearance. It can be off-putting, but overall, I think it looks great.

Let’s do a size comparison first. One might simply assume that an RPG would have a larger world than a simple platformer and for the most part, you would be correct. However, there is always an exception to the rule. I’d say they both feel about as big as each other. The Dwarves world is presented to you as a world map and you move about as a miniature figure of a Dwarf. You move from one circle to another, one at a time. Others, be they bad guys or merchants, move along with you and only when you move. This helps you to either avoid unwanted trouble or get into it more, whichever you find yourself wanting. This does create a small world effect since you aren’t actively traversing the space yourself. I’ve looked negatively on this before with Wasteland 2 and the first Blackguards and I still say this isn’t my favorite method of doing things. However, it is done much better here than I’ve seen elsewhere and I’ll get into that later.

Five worlds to conquer... will they break you down first?

Five worlds to conquer… will you defeat them or will they break you down first?

8BitBoy is a platformer so you will get what you get in small doses. There are five worlds composed of 56 levels. Stating it has “56 big levels + 5 huge worlds” seems a bit misleading to me, but I digress. The levels themselves are big for a platformer, but not horrendously large (some make me wish they had halfway points though). It’s also up to how much you want to experience it. There are no achievements for 8BitBoy so collecting everything doesn’t really pay out in any sort of way unless you are a hardcore completionist. I am not. I can get caught up in wanting all of the coins because that’s what you did with Mario back in the day, but here, 100 coins gives you a chance at a power up and a very slim chance of an extra life. I’ve found myself often saying “screw this/that coin” and just making it to the end of the level.

I usually prefer to run around the game world and not move a game piece unless I'm playing Risk. However the narrator does such a good job, it's like enjoying a good book while playing a great RPG.

I usually prefer to run around the game world and not move a game piece unless I’m playing Risk. However the narrator does such a good job, it’s like enjoying a good book while playing a great RPG.

On that same note, without any form of real bonus, I don’t feel satisfied by accomplishing much in 8BitBoy. The rewards are simply too small for me to give a crap about. Simply completing the levels tends to be enough of a reward because that means I can leave it behind, never having to return. In The Dwarves, however, not only are their frivolous achievements for certain choices you make, but the levels themselves are very action packed and cinematic. There’s more going on with multiple paths, runners who will get reinforcements if you don’t kill them, general pain-in-the-butt archers and you gain experience at the end that will help you level up and attain more moves with which to kill the baddies. Also, you’ll want to explore everything on the map simply to get more of the story via the narration which is voiced fantastically! (Much like the rest of the game.) Just make sure you pack enough provisions for all the people in your party.

I'm glad there is no voice acting in 8BitBoy since I'd be hearing the main character die a lot and I'd assume most of the bad guys would use the Duck Hunt Dog laugh a lot. In Galaxy Quest areas like this, you don't really want to get mocked too much.

I’m glad there is no voice acting in 8BitBoy since I’d be hearing the main character die a lot and I’d assume most of the bad guys would use the Duck Hunt Dog laugh too. In “Galaxy Quest areas” like this, you don’t really want to get mocked too much.

Speaking of the voices…. Wow, just Wow! They are great and even the weirder characters like the acting troupe that eventually follows you are all very well done as well. The bad guys sound evil, and the good guys are mostly Dwarves and they’ve all got your typical Scottish accent so, well… I’m loving it! They add to the already great narrator that accompanies you throughout the map giving you more of the lore, stories and inner thoughts of the characters as you travel the lands. It’s amazing… and worlds over 8BitBoy with no voice over work at all. Did I expect any? No. However, it’s still a glaring difference that really sets these two apart since it really does help carry The Dwarves’ plot along. 8BitBoy has a plot as well, but other than the beginning, you don’t get anymore information about why you’re in the 8-bit world running around jumping birds.

Tactics: luring baddies into your waiting arms so you don't have to fight under the shadow of arrows from baddie archers.

Tactics: luring baddies into your waiting arms so you don’t have to fight under the shadow of arrows.

Speaking of reasons to follow the plot, 8BitBoy set up a pretty interesting story that I was really, surprisingly, interested in. It reads like a story a generic gamer would write about getting sucked into a videogame, but now it actually got made into a videogame. I didn’t expect it actually and I even joked (to myself) about there being a book to read before the game started. However, like I said before, the plot isn’t really mentioned again. So much so that it was lost on me and I didn’t care if it was ruined so I looked up the ending of it before I got to it myself. *SPOILER ALERT* So if you don’t collect everything, you don’t get the “real/complete” ending, but the ending that says you have more work to do. Whatever. Personally, it’s not worth it to me to get this to 100% status. It would not be worth working through the “finding all the hidden areas” and collecting all of the stupid coins. I don’t really remember platformers being all that difficult back in the day except for Battle Toads, Ghosts and Goblins and the first Ninja Turtles game (all for the NES). This game was developed to have that kind of frustrating difficulty levels at times and that’s not fun for me for extended periods of time. (There are no Kaizo Blocks here though, but there are some that are close enough to make you swear.)

You'll be seeing this screen a lot... unless you're just that good.

You’ll be seeing this screen a lot… unless you’re just that good.

The Dwarves regale you with an unfolding story about a lone Dwarf, raised by humans who starts out on an adventure to deliver goods to one of his friend’s acquaintances. That’s not all that interesting, but a story has to start somewhere. From there, Tungdil meats up with other Dwarves and the adventure to stop the Perished Lands from taking over the world. Basically, evil Elves (Alfar) teamed up with Greenskins, ***Weak Spoiler Alert That You’ll See Coming*** an ugly wizard and possible deamons (I’m not there yet) to create… zombies? It’s kind of a downhill slope where things goes from bad to worse, but like a good book, I just need to keep playing to find out more. I’m even going to pick up all of the books now that I’ve had a taste for the world and story this universe has to offer. Will that spoil possible other games? Yes… and I can live with that if they keep being this good!

I'm conflicted about this setup. There's a lot of things on this screen that you can click on to read about, but there is no real inventory system so do the items apply to all the characters and are some of those abilities that sound like you have to activate them passive? I'm so unsure of everything in life now! I want buttons I can click!

I’m conflicted about this setup. There’s a lot of things on this screen that you can click on to read about, but there is no real inventory system. Do the items apply to all the characters and are some of those abilities that sound like you have to activate them passive? I’m so unsure of everything in life now! I want buttons I can click!

The last thing I want to harp on are the controls. For the most part, both games are made well. I’ve got a bit of an issue with The Dwarves and friendly fire being on because I’ve misclicked a few times and killed a teammate. I’ve also not misclicked at times and had a teammate move in front of a weapon. Both are equally frustrating, but that’s the whole point of having so many enemies and the ability to pause and readjust your party whenever you want. It’s also why I tend to stick with people who can jump or dash out of bad situations. The camera is the worst offender here though. There are places with bad angles that shouldn’t be, but are. The issue is that the angle isn’t inherently bad, but most of the time you can zoom out and then these times come up where you can’t for some reason (game wall?) and it makes clicking and seeing the battlefield difficult. 8BitBoy has some funky “bits” (we’ll call them due to the lack of a proper word) where you’ll jump through certain blocks at times and you’ll break them every other time. This will kill you (infinite restarts so… whatever, but it can kill motivation). There are certain jump puzzles that had me wanting to throw my controller. This, I’m sure, was designed that way. Some people complain about the physics, I’m fairly sure it was designed this way too. Newer “retro” platformers are designed to be more difficult, but I still feel this is an “artificial” difficulty instead of being well designed.

Winner: The Dwarves

The Dwarves is a phenomenal game based off of a book that I now have a strong desire to read. Story, looks, music and the voice acting are all worlds above what 8BitBoy offers. However, both have control issues with them. While 8BitBoy will frustrate you with it's jumping physics and coin placement, The Dwarves camera work will make you want to slap someone at times. Neither of these are gamebreaking and personally The Dwarves camera comes off as more annoying because the difficulty in platformers created in the "retro look" I've come to expected what I got. The fighting mechanics and plot is what really carries The Dwarves so far ahead. The crowd fighting mechanics are awesome... even if you occasionally kill a teammate on accident. Both have good stories to tell, but thanks to the fantastic, ever present narration, The Dwarves plot doesn't get lost.

The Dwarves is a phenomenal game based off of a book series that I now have a strong desire to read. Story, looks, music and the voice acting are all worlds above what 8BitBoy offers. However, both have control issues with them. While 8BitBoy will frustrate you with its jumping physics and coin placement, The Dwarves camera work will make you want to slap someone at times. Neither of these issues are game-breaking. The Dwarves camera comes off as more annoying because of the “difficulty” in platformers created with the retro look is what I’ve come to expect and is exactly what I got. The fighting mechanics and plot is what really carries The Dwarves so far ahead. The crowd fighting mechanics are awesome… even if you occasionally kill a teammate on accident. Both have good stories to tell, but thanks to the fantastic, ever-present narration, The Dwarves plot doesn’t get lost. I can’t say the same for 8BitBoy.

More info on The Dwarves: Facebook / Official Webpage / Steam / Twitter
More 8BitBoy info: Facebook / Official Webpage / Steam / Twitter

Jonathan Amarelo Sig


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