My distaste with the Zelda games of the past decade or so I have spoken of previously. Since Nintendo is clearly incapable of making of good Zelda games any longer, and big-budget attempts at Zelda clones (Okami, Darksiders) are mediocre to average, perhaps small-time independent developers might have a chance? It turns out that in at least one case, yes, they did quite nicely.
Ittle Dew is a 2D action/puzzle thing in the vein of the old, good Zelda games, though it is more linear than most of them. You control a greedy, intentionally irritating child who pushes blocks and beats enemies with a stick. If you’ve played that famous Nintendo series, you know what to expect, though this isn’t a pointless nostalgic rehash. Ittle Dew succeeds as its own self-contained entity, an fascinating game deserving of your attention.
Ittle Dew is reminiscent of a single dungeon from A Link to the Past stretched out into a three-hour game. Wait, don’t go, it’s better than it sounds. This game may be too short, but it’s a highly entertaining blink of the eye. I couldn’t put the game down until I had completed the main quest, a castle full of interconnected rooms requiring some moderate effort on the hamster wheel inside my brain to transit between. There was even one boss battle that had me examining every tool at my disposal in order to complete it, though unfortunately the in-game hint system (a fairy-winged weasel companion who is probably a parody of the likes of Midna and Navi) gives away the solution.
So the game is awfully easy. Enemies do little damage and you have infinite continues that restart you from the screen you died on. However, many of the puzzles are intelligently done, and the whole post-main-quest bonus dungeon is a real challenge for those who remember when Zelda games were hard. The attention deficit-raddled kids that Ittle Dew is intended for probably won’t be able to complete it, but it fulfills the potential that the rest of the game was hinting towards.
Ittle Dew‘s sense of humor is childish. And by childish I don’t mean full of idiotic scat humor; I mean it feels like something a child would write. Enemies are blocks with faces on them, dancing turnips, and scowling human girls wearing Where the Wild Things Are pajamas. The protagonist is an impulsive, selfish, and destructive child—kind of like most children—who is on a quest for pirate treasure which is inside a castle for some reason. This game was made not by immature adults, but adults who understand how those undeveloped child brains work. It’s happy and inoffensive yet not brainlessly designed. That’s awfully uncommon in any kind of media, and a welcome addition.
The title of this game is apt. Ittle Dew is not a phenomenal game, but it’s a pretty fun and memorable one. It is completely innocent and unpretentious, and it’s a far sight better than any real Zelda game since Wind Waker. Fans inspired by great works can often create better games than their predecessors. I may complain about the failings of indie games too frequently, but the starving artists sometimes win—not the money, but in the creative race. Yes, it’s too expensive and too short, but it deserves your support more than the latest triple-A mediocrity. Buy it, remember it, ask for more games like it.