The Evercade’s “Indie Heroes” cartridge plays host to a variety of brand new games for classic platforms — and even if you don’t have an Evercade, you can try most of these for yourself in one way or another! Let’s explore them in detail!
It’s fair to say that one of the games on the Indie Heroes Collection 1 cartridge for Evercade that has had the most “buzz” is The Retro Room’s Quest Arrest. This is a top-down adventure game originally built for Game Boy, with the Evercade version featuring the game’s first time in full colour.
In Quest Arrest, you take on the role of Allison Bennett, a freshly promoted detective who has been assigned to the case of “Athena”, a mysterious crime boss who has been causing havoc around the town. It’s up to you to get to the bottom of the mystery, bring Athena to justice once and for all — and perhaps determine your own particular approach to policing in the process.
Quest Arrest’s presentation is intended to pay homage to classic top-down RPGs like the Pokémon series, but in terms of gameplay it’s more of a straightforward adventure. There’s no levelling up, no consumable items, no equipment and combat is relatively rudimentary (though in presentation it pays pleasingly explicit homage to Pokémon specifically) — instead, the majority of your time is spent talking to people, finding clues and determining the correct order in which to do things.
There are several distinct mysteries you’ll need to solve in order to complete Quest Arrest: a murder, a suicide attempt, a case of arson and a wave of robberies. Finally, you’ll need to foil Athena’s plan to pull off a bank heist, at which point the “credibility” you have accumulated over the course of the game will determine Detective Bennett’s future.
Ah yes, credibility. This is Quest Arrest’s main gimmick: throughout the game, you can approach a number of situations as either a “good cop” or a “bad cop”. When in a confrontation with a criminal, you can whittle down their health and arrest them (similar to catching a Pokémon) or you can just kill them. The former gains you credibility, the latter loses it; much as in reality, the citizenship doesn’t think much of the police just gunning down people they’re a bit suspicious about.
Combat is a bit overly simple, if anything; you have three possible attack options, each of which deals a set amount of damage and has a possibility of doing double damage via a critical hit. When an enemy is weak enough, you can attempt to arrest them; if they have too much health at this point, they will take some damage (and perhaps die if you’re not careful) while if they’re weak enough, you can arrest them with a simple “press the button that appears on screen” minigame.
The trouble is that there are a couple of combat sequences in the game that are entirely dependent on luck. While for most of the game, you can save and heal back to full between every combat, there are three instances in the game where you’re thrown into two battles in immediate succession — and if you get unlucky with the moves your opponent chooses to use on you in the first round, you won’t have enough health to survive the second, whatever you do. In that instance, the only option you have is to reload and try again.
Ultimately it’s not anything that will bring your playthrough to a complete halt or anything, but it is something that could do with a bit of rebalancing or tweaking.
Elsewhere in the game, you have the opportunity to question people in either a “good cop” or “bad cop” style, with credibility affected in similar ways. You can usually obtain the same information via both means — the different approach just results in different dialogue.
While a nice idea, the credibility system does feel a little underbaked; the game promises that new story paths will open up to you according to your credibility, but in practice it doesn’t affect much other than the ending. Yes, there’s a hint you can get from a criminal if your credibility is low enough and a fight you can skip if your credibility is high enough, but other than that things don’t really change all that much other than the bits of dialogue the various NPCs around the town say when you chat with them.
And speaking of dialogue, Quest Arrest is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors throughout — though the text in question remains amusingly written, particularly with how frequently it’s willing to drop a few swears. There’s something childishly amusing about seeing cutesy Game Boy sprites spouting obscenities in a pixelated font, and that, I feel, is part of the appeal of Quest Arrest.
In fact, even the rough edges on the dialogue sort of add to the game’s charm in a peculiar sort of way; when coupled with some of the scrappier aspects of the presentation — the background tiles look like they were designed at a completely different resolution to the sprites, for example — it gives the game the feel of an endearingly low-budget localisation of something that wasn’t originally in English.
I really don’t intend that to sound too much like a negative criticism, either; if you followed the Game Boy scene back in the day, doubtless you came into contact with more than a few top-down adventure games and RPGs that had dialogue which could have done with an editing pass or two. And in that way, Quest Arrest’s charmingly scrappy nature feels like it fits right in with the old-school Game Boy lineup, despite being developed much more recently.
Quest Arrest likely isn’t going to go down in history as an all-time masterpiece of the Game Boy’s library, nor will it ever be considered a particularly insightful or sensitive look at the impact varying approaches to policing can have on the wellbeing of a community. But it is fun, and it is entertaining. And sometimes, that’s all you want or need!