I really didn’t want to like this game.
Everything about this game initially rubbed me the wrong way. The style wasn’t for me. I’d enjoyed Recettear, but didn’t really enjoy Chantelise. Both of those were games previously developed by EasyGameStation, and when I saw Angel Express, I thought I was getting into another Chantelise. I am happy to say I was wrong.
Another elephant in the room is a couple of issues with the translation that popped up very early in the game. On an intro screen that displays exactly once, there was some weird behavior from some of the translation text. It was displaying in pieces, and didn’t seem to match the context of the screen it was on. Happily, though, that one error was pretty much the only I encountered in the entirety of my gameplay.
Besides, even if the entire translation (which, apart from the above hiccup, is a perfectly fine performance from Rockin’ Android) had been as bad as that first glitch, it wouldn’t have mattered much. Although Angel Express has a story mode, it isn’t exactly important. What you have is a Mario-style story to string these levels together. And when I finally actually booted up the game to play it, I was in love. The game is a racing platformer, which is a genre I don’t see explored much. That genre is one I very much enjoy, with games like Speedrunners and the oft-forgotten XBLA game Raskulls coming to mind as greats in this style. This game technically precedes both of them, having been released in Japan in 2008 and only finding its way over here last month with Rockin’ Android’s help.
Your goal in each level is to simply race around the given track a set number of times in a time limit. You run and jump your way through the same level a few times, dodging obstacles and collecting gems. It’s so chaotic that it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on as your character throws spinning fish and dashes through the air. That chaos doesn’t work to the game’s disadvantage, though. If a game like Speedrunners is the Gran Turismo or Forza of this genre, then Angel Express is the Mario Kart of it. The chaos just feels good, and the controls are actually exceptionally tight. The story mode slowly ramps up the difficulty, and has you sometimes racing alone or against AI opponents in this frantic race, and the controls are tight enough that you’ll always feel up to the challenge.
It’s a game that feels like it would be a fantastic multiplayer experience, but I didn’t get to try that. I tried playing with one of our staff, but after 15 minutes spent getting the somewhat arcane multiplayer working (this was a PC game from 2008, so there was some port forwarding and file editing involved), we found that it didn’t work. There are complaints on the game’s Steam forums that echo our own connection issues. Luckily, Rockin’ Android has assured players and told us that they are working on getting the multiplayer integrated with Steam. We’ll give it a shot after they’ve made that fix and update you all on that! There’s also local multiplayer, but it turns out I didn’t have access to enough controllers to give it a proper try; there’s not a lot of good couch multiplayer games on PC, so I don’t have as many Xbox controllers as I used to. Still, if the multiplayer behaves like the singleplayer, I’m sure it makes for a chaotic and fun time.
When I went into this game, I expected my closing paragraph to say “It’s not my cup of tea, but Angel Express might work for those of you who liked Chantelise.” Instead, I’ve come out loving this game. I would play this game a lot if I had more people to play with, I think. It’s a fun, chaotic arcade-y game, good to pick up and play for a bit at a time when the urge hits.
Thanks to Rockin’ Android, who provided us with digital copies for review.
Don’t judge this one by its cover; You might have more fun than you expected.
- Super fun platforming races
- Tight controls
- Graphics show their age
- A few translation issues
- Online multiplayer currently busted