Yup, yet another title to review from Ratalaika Games, and I regret nothing. The thing I love about Ratalaika Games is that I know exactly what to expect. They’re just simple, fun titles that usually have some pretty easy achievements. They’re not trying to win Game of the Year, they’re just trying to provide a bit of entertainment. And that’s exactly what they’ve achieved here with Parasite Pack. I’m really looking forward to sharing this Parasite Pack review for Xbox Series X with you all!
The cool thing about this one is that it’s a 2-in-1, and you can actually play two completely different games. Both of them have a similar approach to graphics and audio, but the gameplay is distinct. Admittedly both have incredibly easy controls, and you can tell they’re made by the same developer, but still, the gaming experience is different.
Seeing as they’ve got both similarities and differences, I’m going to structure this review a little differently to normal. First, I’ll talk about the overall aesthetic of the games, as well as the audio and lore. And then we’ll delve into each game separately. Then the overall verdict will be about the Parasite Pack as a whole. Hopefully this’ll help you decide if this game is right for you!
Graphics and Audio
Both games use a pixel art style, with minimalist 2D screens. With the exception of a few overworld moments and boss levels in Flea, all the action takes place on a static screen. You don’t have to move around the level outside the perimeters of what you see. This does make the games feel even more simplistic, but I’m not complaining.
I’m not usually a fan of pixel art in games, but it works here because it complements the gameplay. There are very bold lines on the menu screens and any UI elements. This makes it clear and easy to navigate. I also genuinely enjoy the cutscenes, especially for Tapeworm Disco Puzzle. They have very basic animations with written text below, and honestly I find them super nostalgic. The music during them always fits really well with the graphics.
Speaking of music, audio is an area where Parasite Pack really excels. The soundtrack captures your attention right from the get-go. It’s retro and uplifting, and elevates what could be somewhat monotonous gameplay into a rounded experience. The catchy style of the music combined with the cheeriness of the sound effects is really something. Flea has the better soundtrack of the two, but they’re both great.
Unsurprisingly, the story is not really a focus in either Flea or Tapeworm Disco Puzzle. They’re arcade games, and they’re more about the gameplay experience than anything else. Still, we get snippets of lore through cutscenes, and I find it fun to get the backstory.
With Flea, I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. He’s just jumping around, sucking blood and fighting enemies. The cutscenes aren’t particularly enlightening either. I expect there are context clues that I’m missing, but still, story is basically non-existent.
However, Tapeworm Disco Puzzle has a little more going for it in terms of story. As you might have guessed from the name, it’s set at a disco. They’re trying to entertain the customers with some sick beats, and it’s your job to facilitate that. In a fun crossover, there are also some fleas ‘acting strangely’, and you often have to help them during the levels. I like how the story progresses with a cutscene every 10 or so levels.
An incredibly simple premise that leads to surprisingly tricky gameplay. You are a flea. You are constantly jumping. That’s it, that’s the game. And yet, the 80 levels showcase plenty of unique elements that keep you on your toes. Your job is to try and collect as much blood as you can, but it’s not essential to collect all the blood in every level, you just need to get to the end. This involves navigating platforms and avoiding hazards and obstacles.
You start with plenty of lives (75) and can regularly replenish them by jumping on slime clouds, but don’t let that fool you. You are going to die. A lot. Those lives will be very necessary, and after a run of particularly difficult levels, I think I dropped down to just 20 at one point. The hardest part was working out how to duck, as there’s no controller layout. In case you’re wondering, you have to spam A to make shorter jumps. I wish they’d have told you that at the beginning, it would have saved me a lot of lives.
There are boss fights which have a different level design. Instead of taking place on one static screen, you’re constantly moving forwards. The platforming is much more difficult in these levels as you need much quicker reaction times to keep up with oncoming obstacles. I definitely enjoyed Flea as a way to kill some time, but I found it frustrating that there’s no option to save the game. You have to play it through in one go, or start from the beginning.
Tapeworm Disco Puzzle
Although it has a slightly less impressive soundtrack, Tapeworm Disco Puzzle was still my favourite of the two games. I do like platformers, they’re actually one of my favourite genres, but I prefer ones with more detail, and so arcade platformers like Flea don’t really do it for me. Whereas with puzzles games, I tend to enjoy them in all forms, and Tapeworm Disco Puzzle was no exception.
There’s no time pressure or anything with this game. You can take as long as you like to figure out your next move. You can also backtrack on moves, as you’re simply limited on the number of spaces the Tapeworm can occupy, not how many moves you can make. It starts off incredibly easy, but gets more complex as the levels go on.
The basic premise is that you have to collect all the music notes in the level. At first, that’s all there is to it. But after a while, you encounter new features, such as having to avoid enemies, help Fleas, and escort a woman to a door. I love all the different elements included.
You also get a special code each time you start a new level. You can input this from the menu screen to pick right up where you left off. I love this idea, plus it means you could technically find the level codes for just the boss levels and get all the achievements really quickly.
I don’t usually do this, but seeing as due to the structure of this review it ended up shorter, I wanted to share some more screenshots. Hopefully these will give you a better idea of what to expect from Parasite Pack.
Ratalaika Games titles can be a bit hit and miss, but I’d say that Parasite Pack is definitely a hit. At least, taking into account the genre. Arcade games are never going to be able to compete with complex AAA titles, and that’s okay. As long as they can provide you with a couple of hours of fun, I think it makes them worth it, and Parasite Pack definitely can. Not to mention that it’s really cheap, too. If you’re looking for a silly little game to add to your collection to play when you’re bored, then you can’t go wrong with this one.
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- Catchy soundtrack
- Affordable price tag, especially for two games in one
- Relatively fun gameplay that will kill time
- Pretty easy achievements
- May seem a little boring compared to higher budget games
- You can't save your game on Flea
- There's an input delay on certain levels of Tapeworm Disco Puzzle