La-Mulana EX is a port of a 2005 PC indie game. Prior to this it was remade for the PC along with the Wii. This PS Vita edition is the most advanced enhancement yet and the first to be on a portable. Now let’s get to business.
Lemeza Kosugi, a stand-in for Indian Jones, is on the hunt for the legendary treasure inside the ancient ruins of La-Mulana. History is given through interactions with villagers, stone tablets, and ancient dwellers inside the temples. The game itself is chalk full of humor and references aplenty. It’s an endearing homage to the MSX, Indiana Jones, and Castlevania.
And that being said, it plays very faithfully to Castlevania as well. Lemeza even has a trusty whip to slay monsters with and new equipment opens up different possibilities. A pair of shoes let’s him jump farther, while a special scale can prevent poison damage in water. Yet while parts of areas are barred, the entirety of the game is essentially open from the start, making it much more open world than even its predecessor. It can be overwhelming at first, but new additions like the hint system, monster bestiary, and overall balance changes help make it a bit easier to jump in.
Aesthetically La-Mulana resembles a MSX game. It’s retro, but with a modern design. Every area is unique, resembling classic architecture from Egyptian to Mayan civilizations. Most notably, the music is fantastic, putting the final note in the Castlevania love letter. The one thing that didn’t translate well is actually controlling Lemeza. He’s stiff, making jumping between platforms frustrating at times. And while getting an ability to warp between areas early on is great, having to backtrack to heal is tiring.
La-Mulana EX is a fantastic port and the best edition yet. The string of references will make it worthwhile to fans of film and games. However, it’s not to be taken lightly. It’s fun, but can be frustrating with a hard breaking point in the beginning. Give La-Mulana some time though and it’ll be a rewarding adventure. There’s not much like it on the PS Vita.
Score: 4/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review code for the game. This article was originally published on March 8, 2015 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.