La-Mulana 1 & 2 are the latest “Metroidvania” titles swinging in from NIS, with an almost cult like status are these really hidden gems or more like costume jewelry?
La-Mulana follows the story of Lemeza, world famous archeologist and #1 Indiana Jones cosplayer, La-Mulana 2 follows on from this but puts you in the boots of Lumisa, daughter of Lemeza and looking to put her mark on the world of Treasure Hunting herself!.
The La-Mulana series have very intricately written lore, its seeped between each location, each tablet and every character, much like a certain “Souls” series, La-Mulana gives you as much or as little lore as you want, in almost eerie levels of foreshadowing you have to work for the lore, much like everything in these titles!.
La-Mulana 1 sets you in the ruins of La-Mulana, simple enough, La-Mulana 2 sets you initially in La-Mulana, in a fantastic throwback fashion, then soon you’ll find yourself in another set of ruins called Eg-Lana.
As you can see, graphically La-Mulana is firmly rooted in the more 16bit style, this stems from the game originally being made to replicate an MSX style title. While this is a remaster of the original and totally original sequel it still retains a somewhat retro look but the scenery is outstanding and the game has a brilliant art direction, the character art is especially nice to look at!.
The music in these titles are fantastic little ear worms that’ll ease the pain of bashing your head off the wall while dealing with the many many environmental puzzles this series throws at you. They do an ideal job of not only setting an ambience for the games but keeping you engaged in all the treasure hunting goodness.
So if you aren’t familiar with La-Mulana and its legacy, allow me to guide you somewhat. As mentioned it originally started out as an ode to classic MSX titles before gaining traction and eventually a remake which is what the La-Mulana 1 in this package is.
La-Mulana is essentially Indiana Jones meets Metroidvania. You’re given a giant ruin to explore and uncover secrets, your hand is barely held, less so in the original but I’ll come back to that. You start off with a whip, a laptop and your keen sense of exploration.
Throughout your time in the ruins you’ll come to appreciate a few things, everything wants to kill you, traps are deadly, the puzzles are obscure as possible and so is the lore. You’ll travel from room to room, pressing switches, using various items and hoping for a response. Eventually something WILL click and you’ll progress more, you may even get to the area boss.
The boss fights in this series are a seriously tasty slice of old school pie, tough, rely on patterns and insanely rewarding. Once beaten it’s back to the puzzle & exploration grind, this game will not sign post you and will not hold your hand.
La-Mulana 2 slightly eases this by being a little more helpful in regards to hints and pointing you in the right direction but it’s still no cake walk.
If you choose to play these games without hints or guides from outside then my hat goes off to you, I made a fair bit of progress before I had to use guides but even then I had to cave, to show what this game is about this video is someone’s 260 hour odyssey to playing La-Mulana without assistance (https://youtu.be/C–iYdADbLo).
Both La-Mulana titles are insanely charming, rewarding albeit infuriating at times and ideal for the Nintendo Switch, the ability to instantly take a screenshot for future reference was a life saver.
La-Mulana is going to appeal to those of you who love a challenge & those of you who love Metroidvania titles. Obscure puzzles which can impede progress by hours, provide an immense feeling of achievement when you eventually pass them. These titles are cult classics and it’s fantastic to have them readily available on the Nintendo Switch where you can chip away at them at your leisure. Hidden Treasures? more like National Treasures!
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