Micetopia is the first game released onto the Xbox store by developer Ninja Rabbit Studio. You play as Rich the mouse in this bite-sized metroidvania platformer featuring nicely done pixel art graphics. Rich isn’t just a normal mouse. He walks on his hind legs, he wears clothes, and he’s trained in combat. He lives in a town with other bipedal mice who appear to have advanced their civilization to a point that would compare to our medieval ages.
Micetopia was published by Ratalaika Games, who are known for publishing games with easy achievement lists that usually only require the player to play part of the game making for a quick 100% achievement completion. When I first started the game I was interested to see how this would compare to other games in its genre as well as other games published by Ratalaika.
The story in Micetopia is pretty bare bones. The game starts with someone interrupting your archery practice and of course causing you to break your bow in the process (future unlockable item? Most likely yes). ‘There’s trouble in town!’ they tell you. On your way to investigate you learn the basic game mechanics including how to walk (joystick or D-pad), jump (A button) as well as how to attack with your sword (B button). Yes, the B button, and unfortunately the options for the game are even sparser than plot, it only has audio options.
When you reach your village you learn that it’s deserted, save for the lone obligatory citizen who can tell you what happened – sort of. ‘The villagers are in the caves! And there are monsters’ is basically the extent of what you get out of him. After entering the cave – which is the first and larger of the two areas in the game – you learn about your most important item, The Map (LB).
The combat is pretty basic, you have a sword, but it has the swing arc of a bread knife. This unfortunately makes the combat a little tougher than expected. Of the dozen or so enemies and bosses, some you can get away with spamming a few quick swings, whereas others you have to repeatedly cycle between swing and retreat. The first townsperson you find is guarded by a goblin mini-boss you must defeat. After being saved, the townsperson tells you they can get back to town on their own and that you should visit them there for a new ability. Honestly the quickest way to get back to town is to either die, which respawns you in town with no penalty, or to save and exit and then when you reload you start back in town.
There are some warp points that let you warp back to town and then back into the level which stay open even if you die which is nice, but many of them are poorly placed. The kid you saved teaches you double jump which will allow you to access some areas you couldn’t reach before, and he tells you about the other half of the plot. The town fountain has been broken into 10 pieces which need to be recovered. The ‘rescue a villager then get a new ability to access previously inaccessible parts of the cave’ plot cycle repeats a few more times as you simultaneously recover missing fountain pieces here and there. Eventually you gain access to the forest area, accessed on the side of the village opposite the caves, where SURPRISE! You continue saving villagers and collecting fountain pieces.
Rich only has 3 hit points; they are represented as flowers on a vine in the top left corner which I think matches the aesthetic of the game nicely. Sadly these 3 hit points don’t go far. Once I unlocked the new abilities I was using them to avoid close combat whenever possible (backtracking after death gets repetitive). I enjoyed the platforming elements of the game, but wished it had gotten a little more challenging by game’s end. There are hearts you can find to refill your health by breaking vases and later barrels as well, but usually you just get a green colored currency. I initially thought this currency was useless but it turns out you can use it later in the game to buy a health upgrade from the last villager you save. This could prove helpful in the last boss fight, as he’s a little trickier than the others, unless of course you get lucky like I did and he freezes facing the wall. This wasn’t the only glitch I encountered, although thankfully none of them repeated themselves.
The pixel graphics have an early 16-bit feel to them and look nice, especially when compared to some of the other games published by Ratalaika. They use vibrant colors, which at first glance make you want to explore more of the world. The only problem is, there isn’t much scenery variation and not many landmark-style objects, which makes the map absolutely essential. Normally I like my pixel graphics games to have chiptune music, but Micetopia went with a soundtrack that would be at home on a 16-bit console (presumably to match the graphics). It reminded me of the music in some of my favorite Japanese RPG’s on the SNES. The music is nicely done, each of the 3 areas had its own track (Cave, Village, Forest) but the music didn’t get repetitive. The sound-fx were average, but they were timed well and fit the actions.
When playing most Ratalaika games I usually feel less like an achievement hunter and more like an achievement gatherer. Micetopia gave me more of a challenge than I anticipated, in part due to the weak combat and the frustration of having to backtrack after dying. However once I unlocked all the abilities I enjoyed jumping over the enemies and rolling through them, getting out of some tight spots with some well timed button presses.
Overall I enjoyed Micetopia more than most pixel platformers published by Rataliaka. Personally I like feeling like I got something of value for my money and don’t like spending $5 on a game that takes less than an hour to complete. If you don’t follow a guide Micetopia will take roughly 2-3 hours as long as you have some platforming experience – there’s not really any replay value but one playthrough leaves you fairly satisfied. A somewhat decent game and a quick completion aren’t bad for a fiver. I look forward to seeing what the developers do for their next project.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.