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Review: Mango Mischief – Movies Games and Tech

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Few industries return to tried and tested ideas time and time again. Video games are a rare entity that has a massive following for retro and old-school mechanics. Therefore, when a new title leans heavily on these elements, it is applauded rather than heckled for its lack of originality. Mango Mischief is the latest JRPG influenced title to hit the market. However, unlike its peers, it doesn’t take itself too seriously! It refers to the absurdities we’re familiar with and delivers them in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.

Developed and published by Acute Mango, this is a retro RPG fan’s dream. It is reminiscent of Phantasy Star and Shining Force and it’ll make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. What’s more, it has a familiar, yet original story, some excellent simple mechanics, and is easy to pick up and play. On top of this, it has a beautifully polished look combined with an array of dated synth-wave songs.

Mango Mischief uses the best elements of the genre. 

Creating an original, fun, and interesting RPG is nigh on impossible. Therefore, I was amazed by the captivating gameplay of Mango Mischief. If you were to dissect every element, you’d say they were as old as the hills. However, with each layer working in perfect harmony, the developers have created a rewarding and jovial RPG experience. Furthermore, older gamers will love the nostalgia and silly undertones.

Like all great early RPGs, Mango Mischief has a nonsensical, convenient, but incredibly absurd story. All retro RPGs have similar plots, and this could make the action tedious. Fortunately, though, the short missions, interesting characters and side quests stave off any boredom. The story revolves around 3 individuals who must see the king. Strangely, his convoy is missing and these heroes must save the day. Joined by one of the King’s guards, you begin your search for the truth.

Easy to understand turn-based combat.
Line up and take down every enemy.

Two key elements.

The lack of complexity continues within the game’s key components. The action is split into two key elements; the over-world and dungeons, and turn-based combat and team management. Neither of these portions is difficult to understand, and this makes it fantastic for newcomers.

The exploration feels “open world”, but it takes a linear approach. Except for side quests, that is, as your progress is wholly dependent on the completion of each main mission. Here you’ll discover artefacts that open new paths and move obstacles. Not only are they magical, but they are intrinsically linked to the King. Subsequently, Mango Mischief did well to ensure the random story retained a loose structure. 

The turn-based combat and team management, on the other hand, were a little more strategic. You must understand the foes you encounter and use appropriate force to defeat them. Each monster has an associated element; wind, water, fire, or dark energy. By uncovering their traits, you can kill them with ease. However, this flows both ways! Each hero chooses a class and they have unique strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, you must plan and eliminate the greatest risks to survive.

Explore every town in Mango Mischief.
So many colourful and interesting towns to explore.

No quest is too difficult. 

Let’s cut to the chase. I love Mango Mischief. Yet, it wasn’t perfect and there are some obvious shortcomings. The quests are too easy; the combat is rarely challenging, and the exploration elements could have been more varied.

No matter the quest I undertook, it rarely pushed me. Most endeavours revolved around fetching items or killing a boss. Frankly, these were ridiculously easy. Where it excelled, however, was when it incorporated puzzling elements. Had this formed a staple part of the gameplay, it would have been much harder. 

To open new areas required NPC interactions or the removal of obstacles. This quickly became repetitive, and I wanted much more. What was great was when your progress was veiled in mystery. You had to work for a solution and this was challenging. 

Finally, the combat should have been more complicated. Yes, there were strategic moments, but the heroes became too powerful, too soon. The lack of balance was disconcerting, and it makes it uncomfortably easy. This is compounded further when you specialise in each of the character’s classes. Super powerful protagonists and all-powerful weapons somewhat undermine the overall difficulty. If the developers were to adjust the stats gains and the strength of the equipment, this problem would be eradicated.

Mango Mischief is a thing of beauty. 

I have a few concerns regarding the gameplay. But, I have no complaints about the graphics. Mango Mischief is what a modern retro-inspired title should aspire to be. Its world is full of variety and comprises that familiar pixelated look. What’s more, the colour palette is bright and garish, and the sprites are wonderfully detailed and polished. On top of this, the combat animations are great and reminiscent of the greatest of JRPGs. 

The aesthetics are enhanced further because of the fabulous audio. The excellent synth wave music is as varied as each backdrop. Consequently, the game expresses its emotion through its sound. Every town has a jovial soundtrack. However, while exploring and in combat situations, it has a sinister edge. This is then complemented by the basic fantasy sound effects that we all know and love.

Mango Mischief uses classic checkpoints to help you to progress.
Touch the statue and refill your health.

Limited controls. 

A glance at Mango Mischief’s Steam page highlights “Full Controller Support”. Yet, I was limited to a basic mouse and keyboard input. Now, this wasn’t an issue, as the controls are straightforward. However, the ability to play this with a controller would be a vast improvement.

With multiple classes to choose from, items to use, and a large world to explore, there is longevity. However, its replay value is impacted because of the lack of difficulty! You won’t need to return to the game as you’ll experience everything in one playthrough. This was disappointing, as it affects its potential. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the developer ASAP.

Mango Mischief is great, but it could be phenomenal. 

My concerns may seem harsh, but it has so much potential. What I’ve experienced is a great retro-inspired RPG, but it should be phenomenal. The ingredients are all there. It simply requires some minor tweaking. All things considered, I loved it despite its shortcomings and I recommend you to buy it here! Can your band of would-be heroes save the day? Explore the vast and dangerous lands, understand your foes, and unearth each mysterious artefact. 


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