Ardy Lightfoot
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • SNES
  • Developer:
    • ASCII Entertainment
  • Publisher:
    • Titus Software
  • Released:
    • JP 11/26/1993
    • US February 1994
    • UK 10/31/1994
Score: 75%

This review was published on 09/21/2015.

Ardy Lightfoot is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by ASCII Entertainment for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Famicom. It was released in Japan on November 26, 1993, North America in February 1994, and Europe on October 31, 1994. The game was published in Japan by ASCII Entertainment and Titus Software in North America and Europe. There were some minor alterations between the different regional versions of the game, with the North American and European versions being censored or arbitrarily changed in certain areas. Censoring such an innately child friendly game as this seems a bit silly, but I suppose they wanted to be absolutely safe and not risk making little kids cry. Anyway, Ardy Lightfoot is another mascot platform game in the endless sea of mascot platform games that were released on consoles during the era. After the success of Sonic the Hedgehog, every company sought to recreate that success in their own manner; most of these misguided attempts ended in abject failure. Occasionally, a game company would make a Sonic-like game that was actually good, like Rocket Knight Adventures, but usually, it'd be something terrible like Bubsy. Ardy Lightfoot is somewhere between Rocket Knight Adventures and Bubsy in terms of quality.

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As the title signifies, Ardy Lightfoot stars a character named Ardy Lightfoot. The furry fellow is an anthropomorphic creature that kind of resembles a cat, though it's unclear what animal he is, exactly. According to unverifiable sources, Ardy is a young and courageous adventurer. You could say that Ardy is pretty hardy. Accompanying Ardy on his travels is his lifelong pal, Pec, who is a small, round, blue creature that looks like a soccer ball. Yeah, I don't get it, either. The story begins with Ardy and Pec excavating an ancient tablet from a mysterious cave. They take the tablet to the friendly neighborhood elder in hopes of deciphering its contents. Inscribed on the tablet is a legend about a rainbow of great power that shattered into seven pieces. The inscription goes on to state that whoever gathers all seven of the rainbow pieces will be granted any wish they desire. Suddenly, a nearby mining town is attacked! Apparently, an evil villain by the name of Visconti is searching for the lost rainbow shards, and he's willing to set towns ablaze to do it. Now it's up to Ardy and Pec to find all the rainbow gems before Visconti does. I don't know about you, but this reminds me of the plot to the original Dragon Ball anime.

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In case it isn't obvious, you control Ardy for the entirety of the game. Like Sonic the Hedgehog and unlike Super Mario, there's no run button. Simply walking in a single direction for a short while will trigger a full sprint. On top of normal jumps, Ardy can use his springy tail to bounce off the ground for a higher jump, much like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. This is also Ardy's main means of defending himself, as he can bounce on enemies with his tail to defeat them, though simply landing on them with his feet won't do the trick. Almost all of the stages require the use of Ardy's springy tail jump to get by, so mastering that technique is necessary to completing the game. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Ardy can carry certain objects like bombs and push some blocks around. Also, holding up on the d-pad will have Ardy pull out a mirror that he conceals himself with, which strangely enables him to avoid enemy attacks. The primary issue with the controls is that it's hard to control Ardy while he's in midair, as he sometimes gains a lot of momentum unexpectedly. The controls get the job done, but they're a little inconsistent.

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Pec will automatically follow Ardy around, kind of like Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. However, unlike Tails, Ardy can literally throw Pec around like a heartless sadist. The reason for this unprecedented cruelty is that Pec acts as a projectile attack when he's thrown, allowing him to eat enemies he comes into contact with. There are also certain enemies that can only be killed by Pec. Throwing Pec at an item like a bomb will have him grab and return it to Ardy like a well trained dog, too. Additionally, grabbing certain power-ups will grant Pec special temporary abilities, like being able to transform into a hot air balloon that Ardy can then ride on top of. Ardy does lose Pec if he gets hit, though, and if he's hit when Pec isn't around, then he dies. Thankfully, Ardy can reunite with Pec by finding him inside of treasure chests located throughout the environment. In this way, Pec functions both as an extra attack and extra life for Ardy. Basically, you're rewarded for not getting hit. The only one who doesn't seem to get rewarded here is Pec. Poor guy; he does so much for others, yet receives so little in return.

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On the presentation front, the graphics look quite good, though the music is lacking. The game begins like a movie, showing credits of the cast of characters that appear in the story. It even refers to itself as such, brandishing text that states the game is "An Ardy Team Film." This is very similar to the intro sequence in Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole for the Sega Genesis. That cinematic feel continues throughout the rest of Ardy Lightfoot via various short cutscenes. This is an odd choice for a simple platform game, but it does have the benefit of making the game feel more like an actual adventure than just a mere platformer. The drawback, however, is that some cutscenes can't be skipped, and this particularly stings when you need to retry a section multiple times due to suffering countless deaths. You're allowed to skip most cutscenes and there aren't too many of them in the first place, though, so this is ultimately a minor nitpick.

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Furthering the movie theme, stages are broken up into multiple segments that the game refers to as "scenes." There's a cute world map transition in between certain scenes, but you don't get to control these yourself, which is a bummer. For the most part, the level design is pretty amateurish, with some sections consisting of nothing but floating platforms, and others requiring the player to bounce off the heads of enemies that are placed on top of spikes. On that note, most of the enemies are comprised of tiny penguins doing silly things. As cute as that is, it means there is a lack of enemy variety. There are brief flashes of creativity, however, like this one part where you lure a snake out so you can bounce off its springy tail. A few minor puzzles also exist, such as using bombs to blast walls or pushing blocks around, but these are rare and extremely simple. The platforming does get absurdly hard later on, though. One insanely hard, repetitive section has you jumping from one airborne spear to another, for a whopping twenty spears! And you need to do it all without missing a single one, too. The level design isn't downright bad, but it could be better.

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Bosses will use their false sense of superiority to threaten you in the land of Ardy Lightfoot. You can't harm bosses using Pec, so instead you're forced to rely on Ardy's trusty springy tail jump. That's not its official name, by the way; I just like calling it that. Generally, boss battles come down to waiting until the boss is vulnerable, bopping it on the head with Ardy's tail, then rinse and repeat a few more times to win. Some bosses do change things up in clever ways, though. For example, the second boss can't hurt you directly, and instead presses switches that cause boxing gloves to burst out from the walls in an attempt to hit you. Meanwhile, you must strategically manipulate the switches yourself while avoiding the gloves to strike back. Another boss has you using a reflective mirror to deflect its lasers back at it. The game doesn't have too many bosses, but the few it does have are decent.

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He may be light on his feet, but Ardy Lightfoot's game could stand to gain some weight. The graphics are great and the short cutscenes help add some flavor to the game, but there's not much else going for it other than that. Most stages are amateurishly designed, there isn't much in the way of enemy variety, and the controls are a tad off. Ardy Lightfoot is a charming game, but is average in everything outside of the graphics. It's definitely playable, though, and reasonably enjoyable if you're not looking to have your socks blown off. Personally, I like to keep my socks on.

Word Count: 1,488

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