Back to Stone follows the adventure of the unwitting subject of horrible magical experiments. Following the conquest of his world by a race of demons, the hero became a guinea pig for the demons. Now a hybrid, half demon, half human; in exchange he has gained the ability to transform flesh to stone with his hands, making him one of the few on the planet capable of defeating the demons on their own terms.
--From the GBA Back to Stone instruction manual.
Equipped with a captivating story, and innovative gameplay "Back to Stone" is an isometric, fantasy slasher that both amazes and disappoints. Fighting your way through hordes of demons in an isometric world isn't easy, especially in "Back to Stone". The player controls a warrior with amnesia, one of the few survivors in a world war between humans and the damned. As one of the few human survivors, the warrior has been subjected to evil experiments by his demon captors. The player's warrior has magic powers that are the result of a failed experiment, and was left with the ability (or curse) to turn the living into stone. The demons are monsters, but they are not undead. Good news for our hero who must navigate puzzles and levels using the stone statues of the foes he has defeated. It's a pretty original premise, and an effective gaming technique for a dungeon puzzle solver. "Back to Stone" is very visually impressive (it was one of the final generation of games to be developed for the Game Boy Advance), and graphically is one of the most impressive titles on the Game Boy Advance. The enemies are beautifully constructed, and move with fluid animation, and the bosses are insane. Unfortunately the controls, and isometric structure seem to conspire against the high points of the game, preventing it from being a standout.
The ability to turn enemies into tools to unlock puzzles is an original addition to a technique employed by countless other games. Push the block, and unlock the door, gamers are very familiar with this aspect of adventure games. "Back to Stone" breathes new life into the puzzle system, and uses it consistently throughout the game. I appreciate map puzzles in adventure games, but it almost seemed to be overdone, as the player will encounter puzzle after puzzle. Some are quite easy, while other are more difficult and time consuming to figure out. I wish that the easier puzzles were just dropped completely, as they tend to get redundant and tiresome. Especially frustrating in "Back to Stone" is trying to solve a puzzle in close proximity to an edge, players will find themselves falling off the map frequently, not because of the difficulty of the puzzle, but because of the poor controls operated on an isometric map.
The controls of "Back to Stone" can be incredibly frustrating, especially on the isometric map that requires diagonal movement. The controls make the character move diagonal automatically, but feel extremely awkward and foreign. Performing the jump action on an isometric map with pitfalls is also problematic, and the player will find themselves launching their character over the edge often, the character will respawn immediately at the map's edge, but will get bum rushed by any enemies on the screen. "Back to Stone" isn't an unchallenging title, boss battles can be exceedingly difficult, and are made even more difficult by the password progress system. "Back to Stone" is one of the more original titles I've encountered on Console Classix, but its disappointing controls, and tricky level navigation keep it from being the exceptional game that it could have been.
Players hack and slash their way through levels as the amnesiac warrior. The warrior has a punch attack and an energy attack. The energy attack requires energy derived from crystals that are picked up throughout levels and used to replenish the energy attack.
The warrior has a health bar in the upper left hand side of the screen. When the health bar has been depleted to 50%, the warrior will turn into a demon, granting the warrior higher damage and defense. When the warrior turns into the a demon, many NPCs will not talk to him.
The warrior only has one life, and if he dies he will be told that he will now be a demon forever and the game is over.
The warrior's hands turn the living into stone. The warrior must use this to his advantage, turning enemies into blocks of stone that can be moved, jumped on as platforms, and used to unlock doors using pressure sensitive plates.
"Back to Stone" features over 20 different levels.
"Back to Stone" utilizes a password feature to allow the player to continue progess.
|R Button||Demon powers|