Thursday, 23 January 2014

Rico: A Tale of Two Brothers (Android)

Today I'm taking a look at retro-style indie platformer Rico, because some asked me to and I'm apparently incapable of saying no. My only weakness.

Last year seems to have had more than its fair share of games with 'Two' and 'Brothers' in the title, as there was also the monochrome Game Boy inspired action RPG Two Brothers and Starbreeze's single player co-op game Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Plus there was also Beyond: Two Souls and Layton Brothers just to make things more confusing. Anyway, this one's the one that's a platformer.

This is also out for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad and iPhone, but I was asked to check out the Android version specifically so that's the one I'll be looking at. It's about bloody time as well, seeing as I've gone a full three years without a single Android game on the site. Sure it looks a bit like a browser game and it probably isn't the best ambassador for the system, but hey it'll be a change.

Well the title didn't lie to me, it really is a tale of two brothers. The eldest is called Rico and his sole character trait seems to be that he's - black as the night -. His poor brother's even worse off as he doesn't even get a name.

Since the beginning of time they have been fighting each other, their battles always ending in a tie. 14 billion years they've been at this and no one's given the younger brother a name yet? Not even a nickname? Fine, I'm going to call him Ocir.

There you go mate, you don't have to have this dumb jealous rivalry with your brother anymore.

Oh, it turns out that the two of them are actually doomed to fight for all eternity. No one's told them this yet, so it's pretty lucky for everyone on this world that they're so eager to beat the crap out of each other for no good reason.

But alas, one day Rico manages to get the upper hand and strips all of Ocir's powers! (They have powers by the way). Ocir's punishment for failure: having to play through four worlds of an indie platformer.


Yep, this is definitely a retro platformer alright, designed to look like an early 90s Amiga PD game I guess. The on screen buttons show that it basically uses NES controls, except B is ghosted out right and useless.

It may look very old school (and it definitely sounds it too with basic chip tune music), but the gameplay is thankfully from the era where platformer heroes could change direction in mid air. He's actually moves around just fine, though that's about all he can do right now.

The developers sure love their particles. Everything I do in this, from collecting gold gems to walking past a checkpoint creates an explosion of pixels like a doomed lemming.

It's definitely a collect 'em up, but it's been absolutely straight forward and linear so far, with the gems/coins scattered along the only path I can go.


Damn, I lost a heart for dropping down here? I guess falling damage is confirmed.

They've thrown in some basic moving platforms and acid pits but nothing too serious so far. The main trouble I've had is that sometimes I'll misjudge a jump, fall past a couple of gems, and then find I can't get back up to try again. Hope I don't end up needing them all.

Crap, I landed just a pixel or two too far to the right and it turns out that when Ocir's time is up he explodes just like everything else; his billion year run of existence ended by an accidental acid bath. Well there'll be no more balance for this world then; I guess that people are going to be falling on their ass all over the place now.

Actually I hit a checkpoint two seconds ago so I can jump right back in! Into the game I mean, not the acid, though I'll probably be doing that too. Being crap at video games; my only weakness.

Any second now I can just jump back in!

This is one retro feature they could've left out, I wouldn't have minded!


Here's a bit of an old school platforming challenge for you: leaping from a moving platform to grab a row of three gems floating between two mines, then landing it safely. Fortunately the controls are up to the task, so there's no frustration here for me.


I learned... High Jump! I'm trying to remember if I've passed any Metroid style side paths along the way I can reach now with this upgrade, but I'm coming up blank. I've got my 50 gems for this level so it seems like I've been everywhere and seen everything already.


Here I am faced with a difficult choice. Do I take the left hand path leading to an unknown fate, or do I fall to the right and risk hitting that landmine on my way to an equally uncertain fate? Hmm, I gotta go with... left this time.

D'oh, I should've fallen right! Well there's five gems I'll never get now, unless I throw myself into an enemy without hitting that checkpoint crystal. Or restart the whole level.

At least it seems like the level's opening up a bit after this, instead of giving me a single narrow path to traverse. I've never seen such an abundance of platforms in the game... aww shit, I just realised that they're all covered in gems, so I'll have to go hunting the things down now.


Well I'm not jumping up there yet I guess. My high jump just ain't high enough. Hey maybe that dangerous looking sparkly thing on the left will be of some use! It'd better be, seeing as it's the only hope I've got.

Honestly, I did not expect it to be a jet pack.

It's a bit risky flying around with limited fuel in a game with falling damage, but the arrow of gems says go left, so I gotta obey. Plus the thing recharges when I'm not using it, so if I run out mid-way across I'll probably have enough left in the tank by the time I reach the ground to slow my fall. Probably.

Crap, now the level designer is just being an asshole. I need to drop through this tiny gap without falling too fast for me to ascend in time. But I can make it... probably.

Yes yes, no, NO! Yes! Got them! Now I just have to get back out again.

Okay NOW they're just taking the piss.

Right, my plan is to fly around, grab as many gems as I can, then if I start losing hit points and get into trouble I'll carefully race back to the unactivated checkpoint on the right and save my progress. Checkpoints save the gems I've got so far and restore my health to full, but I can only hit them once so I need to be careful not to waste it.

Oh so that's what the gems are about. The more I miss, the stronger Rico will be when I meet him, and I guess I'll be meeting him pretty soon.

The rules and backstories for these two deities seem a little arbitrary, enigmatic and unsatisfying, and every new thing they introduce makes less sense than the last, but I was able to make it through six seasons of Lost so I'm willing to just run with it.

Nice poem. So I guess I'm meant to be jumping on the grey platforms then while avoiding the black ones? I'm just guessing really, I've no bloody clue what this actually means.

I suppose I'll go walk over to the lift on the right and see where that takes me.

Oh hey, it's Rico himself!

He's flying around the screen, stopping occasionally to lob a deadly bouncing ball my way before floating off again. The balls turn to grey when they rebound off a surface though... just like the poem said now that I think about it.

Running into the grey balls turns them to white by my touch, so it seems that I've got to get them while they're grey and deflect them into Rico. Reminds me a bit of how I had to take down the pig boss in Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa actually. Simple enough in theory, until you rework the equations to take into account the fact that I'm terrible at boss fights. My only weakness.

If there's one thing that makes a player want to jump back in and give it another go after a crushing defeat, it's loading screens!

Loading screens and lifts, there's a winning combination.I guess I'll just wait here then... each and every time I screw this up.

You know, maybe Ocir here shouldn't be so quick to go challenge his brother again anyway. I mean, he's been fighting him since the BEGINNING OF TIME and is probably doomed to fight him for a fair few millennia after that once he gets his powers back, so he should take this rare opportunity to kick back for a while and enjoy a well earned holiday while he has the chance!

Though not for too long obviously, as there's that whole 'world falling out of balance' thing to sort out. Not that he has the faintest idea about that, he just wants to get his powers back and beat the shit out of his brother some more.


Whoa, I actually got him! For my outstanding demonstration of skill persistence in the field of ass-whooping I have been awarded a... sparkling blue squiggly thing.

It was a whip power up! My B button has now been activated at last and I can beat up enemies for a change. Things are gonna be different on World 2 for sure, now that I'm gonna be bringing the pain with me. The real game starts right here.

Or maybe it finishes here. Well I got seven levels and a boss fight out of it, that's not so bad.

Okay here's what I think about Rico: A Tale of Two Brothers so far. It's slick, it plays well, it sounds the part and it looks like a browser game. It wasn't nearly as obnoxious as it could've been with the 'collect 'em all' goals and I didn't really have a problem with it. Plus it has a level select, that's always worth mentioning. Yeah I'd keep playing this, if there was anything else for me to keep playing in this demo lite version.

So I guess it gets a star then.

If there's anything you feel like saying about what you just read or my site in general, then go ahead, that's what the comment box is for. I eat your feedback to steal its power.


  1. Hey, I'm new here, but if I can make a request, how about an Apydia review? :)

    When I was a kid, that game freaked me out in a good way, what with all the dead rats and living dolls and creepy things. It was my personal horror movie!

    1. Apydia's a good choice, but I doubt I'd be able to show much of it off as I don't remember ever making it past level 2 in it; I'm amazingly terrible at the game. Also I still haven't figured out how to screenshot music and that's half of what makes the game such a classic.

      I'll slot it into my epic game request list anyway and see how long I can resist trying it again.

  2. Hey Ray! I'm the one who suggested Rico. Just wanted to say thanks for giving it a try and making a great writeup :)


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