A former site director would remind us the last game worth taking inspiration from is Super Ghouls and Ghosts.
Given the nature of my current employment, I tend to prefer games that don’t beat me over the head with difficulty. I play games to relax, not to raise my blood pressure. I had no idea what Cast of the Seven Godsends was before taking a flyer on it, and I quickly found that it was taking all of the wrong cues from the days of cheap difficulty for the sake of preventing game rentals or sucking quarters.
Cast of the Seven Godsends is a run-and-gun action platformer that takes heavy inspiration from the games of the 16-bit era. A princess has been kidnapped, and your character is tasked with rescuing her in order to win her hand in marriage. Seven deities agree to lend their power to you at the start of the game, if you can avoid getting hit too often. There’s elements of the Ghouls and Ghosts titles as in order to gain these powers, you have to take less than two hits in between finding armor items in the world; the second one transforms into a glowing orb that cycles through the various elements. There are different medieval weapons - swords, maces, axes - also around the world, and these work with the Godsend powers in different ways. For the most part, I found most of the Godsend powers difficult to make use of, and when all else failed I would use fire.
Once I was able to use the Godsend powers, I had fun burning my way through stages. The problem was in getting the powers, especially later on with multi-stage or particularly aggressive bosses. A possible Godsend power-up is usually right in front of the boss areas, but there were respawning enemies and cheap traps to quickly knock my character out of his armor. The game tracks how much time the Godsends are active, and 0.0% usage was not an uncommon sight, even playing on the Easy difficulty (there are four difficulties: Easy, Medium, Hard, and “Retrogamer”). Each world has multiple levels, and in a nice concession to modern game design it’s possible to save progression to a new world, but there are limited continues to keep in the same level. Eventually, you will get kicked back to the start of the world.
The controls are simple: jump, fire, and hold down fire to charge if a Godsend is active for big damage. It suits the retro style of the game well. The music is fine, and the game looks nice when playing on TV, but I did have some difficulty distinguishing between safe areas and pits in early stages when I played in handheld mode. Unlike the games it’s imitating, Godsends didn’t have any slowdown or other technical issues even if there were a lot of enemies on screen.
I suspect I’m not in the audience that Cast of the Seven Godsends is targeting. I think speedrunners will get a lot of mileage out of this game, and if you somehow managed to enjoy Super Ghouls and Ghosts back in the day take the Cast out for a spin. As for me, I’m moving on to less painful pursuits, like sorting out E3 rumors.