As is thoroughly noted here at TMA, I like games that look cheap and play well. For me, that’s usually a recipe for fun and finding Ernesto RPG is no exception.
I don’t recall where I found the link to Kongregate where Ernesto RPG is hosted, probably Polygon or Twitter, but the game has hooked me and for as simple as it is, has me asking one simple question: where’s the app?
I’m not usually one to prefer any platform over another – PC, console or mobile – but in this case, Ernesto’s simplicity and layout lend themselves to being in your pocket (and even your tablet). I don’t know what goes into making an app, shy of the cost of tools, but it has to be easier to make a simple sprite game like Ernesto than something more complex than say, Infinity Blade. I’d hesitate to even call Ernesto “polished” but it’s still a great challenge.
In the game you play an explorer – assumedly Ernesto – and your goal is to defeat the boss at the end of the fourth level. To do that you must plot your course around Ernesto’s grid that is filled with power-ups, bad guys and treasure.
Like any good RPG, you need weapons, tools and experience. You don’t manage them in any real way, which I like, but you can’t ignore them and expect to get very far. You move Ernesto one square at a time, the goal for each level being to reach the door to the next. The trick is that you can’t backtrack, so you need plan a little bit ahead to make sure your path won’t kill you or block you in. You can undo steps without penalty but that doesn’t make things any less risky. You’ll need to pickup weapons to inflict damage, tools to defuse traps and disguises to sneak by monsters. All good stuff.
At first I found myself planning each level before I even moved my character. That didn’t turn out well so I said “heck with it” and just started moving and deciding as I went. Some games went quickly, others went a bit longer…all I know is that I spent my entire lunch hour playing Ernesto RPG and having a great time, all the while thinking, “why didn’t I think of this” and “I need this on my phone.” If Ernesto isn’t a good candidate for a $1 game in the App Store then I don’t know what is.
A quick scan of the developer’s blog seems to suggest a new version of Ernesto RPG is being worked on, with more monsters, items and play value. I admit that as-is, Ernesto might not have great longevity – you’ll play it hard for a day or two and then move on – but if they evolve Ernesto RPG as much as I hope then there is all sorts of fun to be had.
Just give Ernesto RPG a try over at Kongregate and tell me you don’t end up playing at least a dozen games before you run out of free time.