I miss the golden renaissance of platformers. The days when icons such as Crash Bandicoot would spin on the screen, with a delightful glint in his eye and a wondrous sense of mischievousness oozing from his aura. Now, we’re hard pressed to find those gaming mascots roaming our screens; along with the journeys we would accompany with them, and the ability to forget all of our daily life troubles. FoxyLand is a 2D platformer embodied with the essence of those classic adventures in a pixelated setting. While it’s an enjoyable enough paint-by-numbers adventure, it lacks its own heart or soul to stand out from the crowd.
Set across 36 levels, you play as Foxy Fox (yes, you heard that right), as the love of his life, Jennie, is whisked away by evil forces for, reasons? I don’t know really. It’s a game about a fox called Foxy Fox, for fox sake (try saying that with speed five times over) – what do you expect!? I’m proud I managed to last that long without making a fox pun. FoxyLand steers clear of any fox related jokes, but instead crafts a perfectly fine platformer with a tightly crafted control scheme and beautiful pixel art environments. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Foxy Fox controls efficiently with precise movements. The art of jumping is key to what makes or breaks a platformer, either being decent or a poor recreation of past triumphs. Luckily, FoxyLand leans in the direction suited to its favour. The levels start off fairly simple and can be completed in mere seconds for those who are well versed in the genre, but they quickly descend into tougher gauntlets that aim to push your skills further and further. Nothing in here is controller-smashingly annoying, but there is a decent enough challenge for those who seek it.
How much challenge you want to get out of this game is entirely up to you. To progress forward, multiple crystals will be needed. There’s the added option to gather cherries, and dependent on your amount you will unlock up to three stars for each level. This is about as deep as FoxyLand gets – which can be completed in a single sitting. You can unlock costumes with the cherries you gather, but there is nothing that really screams as an encouragement to go out and gather away. It’s a missed opportunity not to incentivise players more for exploring this world and comes across as an artificial attempt to lengthen the game, which clocks in at roughly an hour or two at most.
FoxyLand does its best to mix up things during its playtime. New enemy variants are introduced frequently to ramp up the challenge. There’s no direct combat from our hero Foxy Fox, you won’t be tail whipping here like an outcast from Super Lucky’s Tale, but you can bounce on enemies to defeat them. It’s a reminder of the simple pleasures retro platformers brought us from squishing our enemies as opposed to zapping them. Later levels see environmental changes such as having to outrun a wall or stay perfectly wedged between two pieces of moving land until the end. They’re welcome changes, but remain insubstantial to the rest of the levels as minor deviants of the formula.
Another element that remains consistent is the art style. Once you’ve played the first level, you’ve seen everything FoxyLand has to offer. Foxy Fox has clearly never left the woods, so maybe Jennie is enjoying her getaway while being kidnapped? It’s disappointing that there’s so little inventiveness in the art direction as what is on display is a gorgeous rendition of pixels. It’s a running theme throughout FoxyLand that never rectifies itself. Everything is played far too safely and any slight moment of inventiveness is quickly replaced by the same mundane style in the next level.
So, what does the fox say? This fox says that FoxyLand on Xbox One is an enjoyable enough little adventure with enough platforming goodness to see you to the end, but lacks any sort of imagination to truly distinguish itself from a rapid growing market of retro platformers. Is FoxyLand a serviceable adventure? Fox yeah! Is this the game to play for those looking for the next Crash Bandicoot? Fox no! Now, excuse me while I wear my cone of shame for the fox related puns.