Developed by Confused Pelican and published by Tikipod, Iron Crypticle is a four-player, “twin-stick dungeon shooter” following the exploits of Cryptonia’s kingsguard as they recover the kingdom’s abducted princess and stolen treasures. For this exA-Arcadia preview, I’ll be looking at the Nintendo Switch version of the game (now available for $3.99 on the eShop).
Iron Crypticle is loaded with retro influences. According to the title’s official Steam listing, this includes core gameplay inspired by Smash TV and Robotron 2084, an “item collection system” inspired by Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands, and thematic elements inspired by Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Gauntlet.
When starting the game, you have two options: “New Game,” which begins the story mode, or “Endless,” which begins, naturally, an endless playthrough.
In the story mode, you progress through multiple dungeon floors with branching rooms within. Using the map that appears after each room, you can chart a different path with every new game. Adding to that diversity of experience is the randomization applied to room layouts in each playthrough.
The base twin-stick shooting mechanic operates almost exactly as it does in those aforementioned Eugene Jarvis classics. New to that formula here are the “Atomic Fist” and “Dash” moves. Atomic Fist is a special move that wipes out enemies within a large radius, and Dash, as you might expect, allows you to zip out of hairy encounters.
Along your journey, you can stop at “arcade rooms” on the map to run through platform-based levels and earn extra coins and health. I loved this diversion, as it gave me something fun to work toward outside of the standard gameplay loop. There are also shops where you purchase upgrades for your abilities.
You’re given only five continues to complete the story mode, which kinda stinks, but it’s overall very fun.
However, if you fancy Robotron more than Smash TV, Endless is the mode for you. In Endless, instead of charting a map, you’re dropped in a single room and challenged to plow through as many waves as you can. It’s a more condensed experience that works just as well.
Both modes are chockfull of soft RPG elements that marry the Smash TV and Gauntlet blood together. You can upgrade your speed, the amount of damage your attacks deal, fire rate, and weapon duration at shops (in story mode) or (in both modes) “through careful chaining gobbling up food pickups,” as stated in the Steam listing.
While I haven’t yet played Iron Crypticle with buddies—because my friends do not play the nerd stuff I play—I can only assume the experience is that much better with two or more contenders. Cooperative play is always a delight.
Overall, Iron Crypticle is a great experience—something I absolutely cannot deny. However, if I’m being perfectly honest with you, out of all the upcoming exA-Arcadia titles I’ve purchased, it’s one of the few that has resonated with me the least.
I love rail shooters. As such, I come back to this game every now and then just to see far I can go, how high I can push my score. But I suppose that, compared to something like Smash TV, the presentation isn’t my cup of tea. And that’s no fault of the game, of course. I just prefer the bombast of Midway’s classic to the more subdued nature of Iron Crypticle.
So yes, I absolutely recommend Iron Crypticle to fans of rail shooters. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t grab me by the collar and shake me silly like other examples of the genre.
If that makes sense.
More to the point, I’m certain I’ll enjoy Iron Crypticle even more once it makes the transition to arcades as “Lightning Knights.” Unfortunately, we still don’t know what exclusive content this version will offer, beyond the names for characters seen in the image above. I’ll reach out to Confused Pelican and/or Tikipod in regards to the exA-Arcadia release soon.
I just hope we don’t lose any content in the transition to coin-op. As you might remember from my Nippon Marathon Turbo Hyper Running Update, exA sometimes mandates certain modes be removed if they aren’t perfect fits for the arcade environment. We’ll certainly see what happens soon enough.
Until we’re dully informed, I hope each and every one of you sweaty nerds has a wonderful day.