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REVIEW | “1001 Spikes” Fills Challenges With Painful Consequences

Posted on July 16, 2014 AT 05:57am

Not often do I play a video game and hear the maniacal laughter of the developers, but it happened here in NICALiS’s 1001 Spikes. An old-school side-scrolling platformer, this game has heard me shout, scream, and mumble every single curse word imaginable in English, French, and Japanese. The funny thing about all this: in some masochistic kind of way, I really enjoyed it!

1001 Spikes has you take control of Aban, whose father recently passed away without giving him the benefit of proving him wrong. He goes on the quest for treasure, with danger at just about every step of the way. Spikes, fire, poisonous creatures, and other traps are waiting to kill Aban, and you are only given 1001 lives to complete the game.

At first 1001 lives sounds quite promising, but like a laser pointer being directed towards a feline it becomes all too apparent that this but a ruse to make us think we’d get the treasure with relative ease. During the intro levels I died maybe once or twice each time, as I was feeling out the areas for the most part. However as soon as 1001 Spikes kicked into full gear I began losing lives left and right.

Timing is key if you want to survive each level, as the difference between life and death is but a sliver of a step or a jump. In many instances I found myself not pressing the jump button at the right time, or I was merely an inch too close to one of the traps, forcing me to restart each level every time. There are no checkpoints, and trust me: WHEN you die just as you’ve reached the exit, you’ll be cursing out the name of NICALiS until your face turns blue.

1001 Spikes has both the look and the feel of a classic NES video game. Its simply 8-bit appearance will fill you with a nostalgic vibe, almost so much that you can just taste the dust from the cartridge as you blow it to make it work. While it does have a relatively simple control scheme on many an occasion I mistook my small jump for a big jump, lunging me to some spikes above and losing my life. Just when I think I’ve got the hang of it, I slip up and plummet to yet another death.

The “charm” of the game does come from its difficulty. Hard as hell? Absolutely! Unforgiving? In some cases, yes. Impossible? Not at all. In fact those who find themselves stuck in a level that just doesn’t want to let you live can simply skip it and return whenever you feel more prepared. With that being said, 1001 Spikes does feel like it’s laughing at you every time you fail.

As you progress through the game you’ll be given new costumes, secret characters, new levels, and a couple multiplayer game modes that have local four-player co-op. With the different characters you’ll be able to use different powers such as climbing walls and double jumps (the latter, of which, can be both a gift and a curse depending on when you use it.) All this will entice you to jump back into the game for another round, with possibly the goal of beating each level without dying (and to that, I say, “Good luck, sucker!”).


  • Old-school platformer straight from the 80s
  • Multiples costumes, characters to unlock
  • Will provide a massive challenge to everyone…


  • …as you curse out said challenges for their difficulty
  • You can hear the developers laughing at your failures


1001 Spikes is a tough-as-nails old-school game that’d rather cut your hand off instead of hold it in the first place. However in spite of its difficulty NICALiS’s game is quite fun to experience. Get a bunch of friends together, and see who can last the longest without perishing, and laugh as they get impaled again and again in the exact same spot. In short: 1001 Spikes is true schadenfreude shenanigans for just about all to behold.

FINAL GRADE: 8.3 (out of ten)

3DS review code provided by Gail Salamanca of Strangely Compelling

An accomplished music, anime, and video game critic, Evan Bourgault has been a Contributing Editor and Podcast host with ElectricSistaHood since 2008. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Follow Evan on Twitter at

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