Sigi – A Fart for Melusina is a retro throwback to the 8-bit/16-bit era of platformers. It looks the part and for that reason alone this game might be the oldschool field trip down memory lane one would be looking for. Many games from the golden olden days have nailed down the mechanics, from their tight controls to their clever platforming; Sigi fails to deliver in these areas which are of most importance. Even if there’s a slight buzz to be had, the game’s length is so short that you’ll never experience the high. Pixel.lu do show their talent for capturing the era respectfully. It just feels like a game that never went through QA.
Players take control of Sigi, a knight who’s part Arthur from Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts with Mario’s head from none other than Super Mario Bros., off to kill baddies in pursuit of a mermaid (who really, probably just wanted to get away from him). It’s almost like the classic Joe and Mac games, with only one of main characters, and set in a fantasy setting. No time is wasted in getting out fart jokes and other light humor. Throughout the levels other dialogue will also pop up, whether its regaining health from eating a drumstick or reviving at any of the checkpoints within the levels. And to the game’s credit, checkpoints are handled very well. Sigi’s main moves are to jump and throw projectiles. Pretty standard stuff. The controls feel tight and seem to be great in the first moments, but odd design choices make A Fart For Melusina feel imprecise and hastily put together.
The controls are simple. Pressing B allows Sigi to jump and pressing either Y or A will throw whichever weapon he has. It’s pretty simple and for a game such as this that’s really all you need. Where the problem lies are with both Sigi’s movement, projectile landing, and how both are used together. What also hampers the experience is the level design to work with Sigi’s mechanics. For instance, Sigi can shoot his swords horizontally while jumping forward and keep moving, but on the ground Sigi can only throw his weapons while standing still. This completely breaks the flow of moving and attacking enemies which feels very out of place. Furthermore, Sigi can also pick up new weapons along the way. A ball & chain has the ability to go through multiple enemies, but also has an arc trajectory. This isn’t a bad thing to change up styles, but its throw distance is random and changes its final position. Since Sigi can only remain still when attacking, the fun in killing oncoming zombies or skeletons lessens significantly, especially when you know you could have eliminated an enemy the first throw and not the 10th.
Allow me to put this in perspective and let me use an enemy who remains stationary. You want to “run & gun”, but you can’t. Instead, you throw your weapon from a point that looks as if the enemy would come in contact with it. You come close, but it’s too short. You move Sigi closer confident that the next throw will definitely not miss. This time you find that the weapon wanted to land pretty much where it did the first time because of its random distance. This is the opposite of fun. If you could throw while you run, it would be less of an issue. The other issue is how platforming feels loose in general. Sigi’s movement speed does not match the layout of the platforms. If you see 3 separated platforms and want to jump from each of them consecutively in a row with finesse, you’re likely to miss one of them and fall in the pit. Some levels have rubber tires which allows Sigi to bounce from them. The hit detection of the bounce feels loose like you have to trust your gut when you land on them. Bouncing from one set of tires to the next isn’t the most gratifying when it comes to platforming.
Sigi’s health meter are 3 heart containers which can be replenished by food drops or breaking open small chests. There are small bonus caves within each level to find which can be discovered by finding the right wall to break. In them, extra coins and health may be obtained. They are little secret areas for those completionists who have to find everything in a level and are relatively easy to find, but they are simple in design just like the rest of the levels. Coins may be collected where every 100 will grant players an extra life. The other way to gain and extra life is also collecting 4 separate letters to spell “SIGI” a.l.a. Donkey Kong Country series. In fact, lives are very easy to obtain that dying becomes a non-issue. Much of this is also thanks to the generous checkpoints where upon death doesn’t back out of the level to the map screen and instead instantly warps you to the last checkpoint to resume playing without breaking the flow.
Speaking of the map screen, what you see is what you get. 20 levels of platforming. By far the best part of the game are the boss encounters. Players will face off against 4 silly bosses. They are actually fun. The downside is they only have one repeating pattern which makes them easy overall. That isn’t to say that I didn’t die. However, purposefully so. Knowing the hit detection was off, the plan to risk taking damage in order to get through them felt like a right thing to do. I had so many lives to spare and the boss encounter didn’t restart so why not? Sometimes you have no choice to but pick up a projectile, but my advice is avoid it if you can. Of course, don’t stop yourself from trying them out.
The pixel graphics aren’t bad at all. They don’t particularly wow, but they are fitting for the style of the game. The one gripe with them is that the level theme never changes. There are day & night versions of the same layouts, but growing tired of it after a few levels is likely. The sound effects and chip music also aren’t bad, but again they don’t stand out, either. As someone who went out of their way to find most secrets, my total playtime came just under 40 minutes. That was even with some idling.