Games: Crossing Souls heavily laden with nostalgia for the 1980s
Crossing Souls (Multi)
IT SEEMS Hollywood is all about the 80s tribute acts, with Stranger Things and Stephen King's It remake letting my generation geek out on nostalgic love letters to the decade. And for kids of our Troubles-ravaged region, movies like Explorers and Gremlins proved much-need escapism – if only because they made Northern Ireland seem so bloody awful.
Scratching that itch for a Spielbergian 80s, Crossing Souls is a videogame portal to those kid-focused fantasies of a decade when flicks like E.T. and Poltergeist ruled the box office. The danger is – as with Stranger Things' lazy homage – it'll merely remind you that things were much better in the 80s, like my health.
Thankfully, Crossing Souls glides by on the charm of its heroes and a heavy squirt of nostalgia that's irresistible even if you weren't around for the first time. With a heavy Amblin vibe and sprite-tastic SNES-era graphics, Crossing Souls tells the tale of a band of misfits from a Californian town who stumble upon a dead body.
Before you can say "Stand by Me", the jock, geek, fat kid and tomboy set off on a wacky adventure brimming with platforming, light puzzling and battles. For the most part, though, you're drinking in the nostalgia, chatting to townsfolk and poking around a suburbia populated with extras from a mid-80s horror-comedy.
Alas, most of this is rather pointless in the long-run, but slathers on the atmosphere nonetheless.
Perhaps the movie Crossing Souls channels most is Goonies, Richard Donner's 1985 hokum from back before Sean Astin had layered on the beef (I wonder if people ask him to do the truffle shuffle these days?).
Each of your team has a set of abilities that can be swapped on the fly to traverse the world. Chris can climb, Matt has a jetpack, Joe provides the muscle while Charlie can slingshot over chasms.
Finding an ancient Egyptian artefact, most puzzles involve switching between modern day and past timelines, where cavemen and Civil War-types wander the town. And if its enemy types are limited and boss battles predictable, this is merely a nod to the types of game Crossing Souls is aping.
The plot is carried along by grainy VHS-quality cut-scenes that channel the crappy TV animation of the time while an amazing soundtrack veers between John Williams-esque wonder and the kind of synth odysseys John Carpenter would be proud of.
Crossing Souls' nostalgia is undoubtedly heavy-handed. From Thundercats to Ghostbusters, its world gushes barely-tweaked-for-copyright references like a wayward hose, spraying 80s veterans in the warm stickiness of familiarity.
But if you know who One-Eyed Willie is or how to say “booby trap” in a racist, faux-Asian accent, this will be right up your suburban, BMX-skidded street.