Growing up I wasn’t a die-hard fan of the classic Mega Man franchise but I did dabble with the original 7. It wasn’t until Mega Man Battle Network came out that I became a big fan of the series, which led me to replaying and falling in love the classics. Rosenkreuzstilette is a love-letter to the original Mega Man formula and it does a great job at capturing what made those games so great. Like a Mega Man fan on any night, you won’t be disappointed with what this game has to offer.
To say that Roenkreuzstilette was inspired by Mega Man would be an understatement. If it wasn’t for the anime aesthetic you’d be sure this was what Mighty No. 9 set out to accomplish. Everything from movement to shooting to the stage select is inspired by the Blue Bomber. Now one might think this would be a blatant rip-off or someone trying to cash in on a working formula but that’s not the case. Rosenkreuzstilette is definitely its own game and has more than enough original content packed in.
If you decide to tackle the story instead of going the arcade route which provides a story-free experience, you’ll be introduced to our main characters Spiritia Rosenburg (Tia for short) and her fairy companion Lillie. Tia is known as a Magi, a human who can control magic. She is part of an organization of Magi known as the Rosenkreuzstilette: the Blades of the Rose Cross or RTS for short. In this world Magi are ostracized for being different and were once hunted and killed by the Holy Empire and Orthodox Church until a truce was made.
After training in the Black Forest for six months, Tia and Lillie are making their way back to camp due to orders from Count Zeppelin. Once they make it to the Imperial Training Hall they run into Tia’s childhood friend Iris, who is suddenly swooped away by a dragon and the Training Hall falls under attack. Turns out your buddies from the RKS are responsible for the attack and announce they’re going to war with the Empire. Freudia a member of the RKS asks Tia to join them to which she refuses and thus the game begins.
Immediately after the prologue you’re greeted to a boss battle which after dying I figured it must have been a battle you were meant to lose. Oh boy, was I completely wrong. Turns out I was so unready for the challenge ahead of me that I mistook my lack of skill for a cutscene. Rosenkreuzstilette is unapologetically challenging and that was something I wasn’t expecting. After being hand-held through most 2D platformers, it’s so refreshing to have to think and plan my moves accordingly. If you’re a fan of how fair but difficult the classic Mega Man or Castlevania games were, you’ll feel right at home.
Straight outta the original Mega Man games, once you complete the prologue you’re greeted to a stage select screen – but instead of adorable robots you’ll be facing cute girls. Every stage features a new hazard that challenges how you approach platforming. Freudia’s stage is a prime example of how good the level design is in this game. You start off in a snowy tundra with a few enemies in your way. After dropping down, you’ll be slowly greeted to laser beams that you have to quickly avoid. These lasers pan from room to room and the only way to avoid them is to familiarize yourself with the dashing kick which you’ll be using against the boss.
Also inspired by Mega Man is the boss power absorption that Tia possesses. With every boss you defeat you’ll gain one of their abilities. In turn, that newly gained ability is more effective against a different boss, which leads you to strategically choosing what order you tackle stages.
Visually the game features a doujinshi art style, akin to the Touhou games if you’re familiar. Backgrounds are inspired by Castlevania and are much more detailed than the character sprites, but the art meshes fine and isn’t off-putting. As far as configurations go, you do get resolution settings and fps display. Keep in mind the game was made to run in a 4:3 aspect ratio, so you’ll have black bars on the side unless you’re rocking a CRT display.
With a rocking soundtrack, the sound design is where this game shines. All of the levels have excellent music and I’d honestly purchase the soundtrack if it were available. I’m serious, go listen to the OST and let me know in the comments what your favorite track is (mine has got to be Freudia Neuwahl’s stage theme). Sound effects are great too, you’ve got your blaster sounds and your explosions, everything sounds crisp and clean. Rosenkreuzstilette features a Japanese voice cast and while the game at once point did feature an English cast, it isn’t in the Playism version. I’m not sure if there were licensing issues or Playism simply opted for the Japanese voice cast. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with how the game was originally intended to be experienced.
Controls are tight and feel how you would expect a game inspired by Mega Man to feel. One thing I’m not fond of is that the analogue stick is how you control movement, you can’t use the D-Pad which is a bummer as I found myself accidentally sliding when I didn’t intend to. This is something I would like to see Playism attend to in a patch if possible as I could see it turning off some players who vastly prefer the D-Pad.
Once you’ve completed the game you are greeted to a separate story that features a different character as the protagonist. To avoid spoiling it for you I won’t delve any deeper, but she’s essentially the Zero of Rosenkreuzstilette. Hidden in every stage are plenty of secret paths, easter eggs and references to old classics. There’s even a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure reference when you die to a certain time-stopping boss.
I can’t help but commend just how well put together Rosenkreuzstilette is, I found myself full of nostalgia while also growing fond of all the characters I met through the game. Had this not been re-released by Playism I might have never played or heard about it. I hope that the sequels to Rosenkreuzstilette are also released by Playism as I now consider myself a fan of the series. If you’ve got a hankering for a tight and challenging platformer, look no further as Rosenkreuzstilette is the game for you.
Release Date - February 3, 2017
Special thanks to Playism for providing a review code