Poncho is a new 2.5D indie adventure from Delve Interactive and Rising Star Games, released on November 3, 2015. It has the charm of a 16-bit era game (in the stream, I liken it to something you might have found on your Sega Genesis back in the day), but has some graphical features and effects that really wouldn’t have been possible on older hardware. Thus, in that way, it’s another game that you might call “modern retro.”
The story is vague in its own charming way – the game seems to be set in a distant future where humanity seems to be mostly gone, if not gone entirely. Some of the robots you interact with give the indication that it’s been centuries since whatever the great catastrophe was, and so the world has been decaying and becoming overgrown by nature once more. The player’s quest seems to be to reach the “red tower” in the distance, but that’s much easier said than done.
Gameplay is quirky and fun, requiring Poncho to swap between background and foreground layers in order to reach hidden items (such as keys) and to progress through an area while finding new abilities along the way. What starts out fun, though, quickly becomes the basis for most of the game’s puzzles, and even at the earlier stages they can get fairly tough and frustrating. You’ll need to learn to think multi-dimensionally in this game, to predict the movement of objects that travel between the foreground and background, and you’ll need to learn to try quirky things like swapping layers while in the middle of a jump. However, sometimes overcoming an obstacle is bittersweet – you may get through a very tough jumping puzzle only to find out that you need a key to open a door at the top (or on the other side) that you never picked up. Oops!
All of that said, though, this is actually a pretty solid experience. If you’re a fan of platforming games with a nice classic feel to them and a fun story, I’d say give Poncho a shot – you’ll likely really enjoy it!
Oh, and a special thanks to Jeremy Stratton for joining me during the stream to offer some commentary!
Overall, I’d rate this game with a: