Review – Devolver Bootleg

Only Devolver Digital would be crazy enough to develop actual bootlegged versions of their own games, advertise them on a tongue-in-cheek parody of a Nintendo Direct, announce its release for the same day, and offer a 1% discount to celebrate its launch. That’s the kind of self-aware nonsense that makes me love this publisher. For as much as it sounded like a joke at the expense of the decade-long bootleg culture in gaming, Devolver Bootleg exists and it’s not exactly a bad time, even though it is supposed to be bad.

For such a cheap collection, Devolver Bootleg does feature a wide assortment of games, even though you’ll either beat them in a handful of minutes or completely forget about their existence after even less than just a few minutes. They all look exactly like those terrible Russian/Chinese Famicom knockoffs that were a dime a dozen back in the late 90’s, especially here in Brazil. All of the games feature 8-bit graphics and music. The soundtrack is just too forgettable for me to even come up with a comment about it, but the visuals weren’t too bad, even if cheap-looking. I had bigger gripes with the game only being playable in windowed mode and a small window at that.

Without further ado, let’s talk about the games:

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You’re a bullet shooting bullets with bullets while avoiding the bullets that the other bullets are shooting at your bullet. Talk about bullet-hell.

Enter the Gun Dungeon is the bootleg take on Enter the Gungeon. Instead of a fast-paced bullet-hell roguelike, this acts more of a Zelda-ish dungeon explorer, in which everyone is literally a gun or a bullet. For instance, you’re a bullet holding a gun shooting bullets in order to kill other bullets holding guns that also shoot bullets. I think I got a headache just by saying that. Regardless of its bonkers premise, Enter the Gun Dungeon is as entertaining as its source material and one of the best titles in the collection.

Hotline Milwaukee was one of my least favorite titles. Everything that made Hotline Miami so entertaining, as well as incredibly infuriating and borderline unfair, was removed in favor of a very simplistic top-down shooter with some very bizarre artwork. Next!

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I wouldn’t mind playing an extended version of Ape Out Jr.

Ape Out Jr. isn’t the best looking title in the collection, nor is it the one with the tightest controls, but for reasons unknown, that was the game I enjoyed the most. Instead of Ape Out‘s top-down ultra-violent gameplay, the junior version is a more traditional Donkey Kong-ish 2D platformer. One of those in which you can’t properly aim when you’re jumping and you die if pretty much anything or anyone dares to touch you. It sounds like a bad game (and in fact, it kinda is), but I had a great time with it. Sometimes a game is so bad that you end up loving it for how terrible it is, just like Resident Evil 6.

Shootyboots is basically Downwell. The game looks exactly like Downwell, sounds like Downwell, and plays almost identically like Downwell. The exception is that you can only move around by jumping, as you’re a boot, and boots don’t have legs. Do you see a pattern of just how silly things are in this collection?

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Hotline Milwaukee is a very underwhelming version of Hotline Miami.

Super Absolver Mini and PikuBiku Ball Stars have absolutely nothing to do with Absolver or Pikuniku. Those are the only two games in the collection that are (local) multiplayer-only and they are easily the least entertaining of the bunch. The former is a very bare-bones 2D fighter, while the latter is a one-on-one basketball game that makes Tiger LCD sports titles look exciting in comparison.

Catsylvania is inspired by the meowtroidvania, Gato Roboto. Both titles are clearly based on Castlevania games, but while the original goes for the same gameplay featured from Symphony of the Night onwards, Catsylvania‘s gameplay resembles older titles, especially the NES ones. There’s also a bit of Ghosts n’ Goblins in here, especially the sluggish jumping mechanics and the fact you basically lose your entire suit of armor whenever you get hit. All in all, it’s one of the best games in here.

Finally, there’s Luftrousers, a game that’s extremely similar to Vlambeer’s Luftrausers, released in 2014. I could barely notice any differences in here besides the lack of multi-directional aiming. Maybe that’s because the original game already looked like something you could play on a console from the early 80’s.

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This isn’t Absolver, nor a good fighting game in its own right.

You may think that given how I talked about most of the games in here, this Devolver Bootleg collection might actually be bad. I won’t lie, most of those games look cheap and feature dated controls, but I guess that’s what makes this collection so charming. This is something no other publisher would ever dare to do nor expect its fanbase to actually get the joke. For as stupid as it is, this is Devolver at its finest. It’s silly and it has a twisted sense of humor that’s not for everybody, but it’s one sweet nostalgic ride for those who enjoy the company’s works and its overall “philosophy”. If you can even say that…

 

Graphics: 5.5

The 8-bit renditions of well-known Devolver franchises are nice to look at, but a good chunk of them are intentionally meant to look cheap. The game only runs in windowed mode, which is distracting to say the least.

Gameplay: 7.0

None of the games in here feature complex controls or gameplay, but a lot of them feature noticeable input lags and glitchy collision detections.

Sound: 5.0

Underwhelming chiptunes throughout all games included in this collection.

Fun Factor: 8.0

The Devolver Bootleg collection is still entertaining, even though it’s a collection of intentionally bad games. There’s a ton of charm and your typical Devolver sense of humor in here, and some of the games are actually quite fun.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Devolver Bootleg is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Devolver Bootleg was provided by the publisher.

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