On the distant planet Gearus 9, a mad scientist rises to power. With only the courageous fusion of man and machine – TROPHY – can he be stopped? With nine levels full of enemy robots, death pits and hazards, this NES inspired, “jump and shoot” platformer makes its debut on Xbox One and Series X|S consoles.
It’s very hard to not draw similarities with its obvious inspiration Mega Man, but if you’re familiar with the Blue Bomber’s adventures on the Nintendo Entertainment System, you’ll feel right at home in this original, homebrew title.
Starting Trophy, there’s a charming intro cutscene introducing the plot with various 8-bit portraits and text. What was once an expedition of knowledge has now become a one-sided power-grab. Clear parallels can be drawn between the two main scientists of Trophy and Mega Man’s Dr. Light and Wily.
Gameplay is very reminiscent of Mega Man 1 specifically, in that you cannot slide or charge your shot for additional damage. The levels are split into chunks, as dictated by the screen hard scrolling, doubling as a marker for a checkpoint upon death (for which there will likely be many). You are limited to how many shots you can fire on one screen, that being 3. With the full set of upgrades your shots are cut down to two, but they’re much larger, so accuracy isn’t as difficult.
The game is also cut into a 4:3 display, much like the NES was. The game’s choice of color palette is also fairly simplistic; being mostly solid hues. The music is also something to note, as it’s a pretty solid soundtrack. That low fidelity NES sound is on full display here. Between ambient tunes and more aggressive hype music, Trophy has a nice presentation.
Power-ups serve as a colossal aid in Trophy. You can find permanent upgrade pick-ups for an increased life bar and larger shots across five of the nine stages. There also exist “extra” passwords to unlock additional abilities, such as dropping platforms below you. These extra passwords were features that were not properly implemented into the game and only serve as a cheat for the player to toy with. Aside from these, defeating enemies nets you a chance at a health drop (which is, you guessed it, a trophy) and even an extra life.
On the subject of passwords; there are no proper saves. The only way to continue your progress is to write down (or screenshot) the password on screen after completing a stage. It’s a simple five character password screen, being letters and numbers. If you’re really in a bind, you can input a code for weapon upgrades, life bar upgrades and the aforementioned extra abilities.
Across the first eight stages, you’ll be challenged to jump and shoot your way through tricky platforming and cruel enemy placement. Some stages will implement interesting gimmicks such as low gravity, being underwater and many, many death pits. You’ll surely start to count how many times you’re bamboozled into falling into an instant-kill spike from a perilous jump into enemy fire.
The eight main stages are split into multiple themes – Carnival, Quarry, Forest, Asteroid, Warehouse, Tundra, Train and Ocean. The final stage, Lab, unlocks after having completed the other eight. The end of every stage features a giant boss, which will vary in challenge, with most of them tending to be bullet sponges. If you’re quick on your feet and can mash the fire button hard enough, you’ll see the game through to the end. Probably.
If you’re having a rough time, it’s wise to find an isolated spot to farm some extra health and bonus lives. While enemies can pursue you from off-screen at times, that doesn’t mean you can’t abuse that as well. Simply run back and forth to respawn enemies and grind away some extra chances at toppling a stage. Patience, observation and timing are key in Trophy.
With the limited design of an NES game in mind, this game definitely hits the middle ground in terms of moment-to-moment presentation. Stages are the biggest standout of the game; with colorful backgrounds, water effects and interesting (if not incredibly trepidatious) layouts. They aren’t terribly long, but should give you enough challenge to make it satisfying.
Character designs are a tad hit or miss, with the titular character Trophy looking pretty generic. The more inspired characters come from the great Carnival and Asteroid stages. The bosses also are largely forgettable, though their attack patterns are sure to give you enough trouble that you’ll be seeing them more than once. The Lab stage remixes just about every hazard you’ve come across into a tough, lengthy final stage.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a consistently difficult Mega Man-esque game, you wouldn’t be at much of a loss with Trophy. Despite some of the design choices being not so memorable, the soundtrack and satisfying NES style gameplay is sure to please any fan of the genre.
Trophy is available to download from the Xbox Store