Sunday, June 1, 2014

Review- Chubbins (Wii U eShop)

Don't be deceived by Chubbins' colorful graphics, adorable protagonist, and cute enemies. This game expounds the modern definition of "Nintendo-hard." Along with other indie favorites like Super Meat Boy & VVVVVV, Chubbins will make even the most seasoned Demon's Souls veteran run for the hanky box. I was there when Battletoads was released and I survived Mega Man 9. I know "Nintendo-hard." Chubbins is "Super Nintendo-Hard." So, is it worth 6 bucks and sore thumbs? Find out after the jump...

Chubbins has 40 levels (each world has 7 levels and a boss), time attack, and online leaderboards

Gameplay is simple in Chubbins. You play the part of a bouncing rabbit. The only time you are not bouncing is when you are "floating" under the command of a directional flow of energy (that  is the best way I can describe it). You can only move left or right. You must avoid enemies, spikes, and falling. There are no limits on lives or time. Just get to the exit. Sure, the gameplay is simple, but it is tough as nails. World 1 is no slouch but by the time you reach world 3, the difficulty increases dramatically. There are two difficulty settings: "soft" and "hard." "Soft" includes in-level checkpoints and visual aids to indicate the paths of floating platforms. Even this easier mode is "Nintendo-hard." There were a few times I fell onto a previous checkpoint voiding my progress. If I have one gripe it would be that checkpoints seem to be unpredictable. Sometimes there are two right next to each other and other times there are difficult stretches that could use an extra checkpoint.

All in all, this game is like a modern day incarnation of the bonus level from the original Sonic the Hedgehog meets Ivy the Kiwi. Matter of fact, the game's graphics are reminiscent of something that would have been a Dreamcast exclusive. That's not to say it looks dated, it certainly does not, it is just that it reminds me of the unique titles Sega used to publish back in the day.

Regarding the game's visuals, they defy the "indie" status and the $5.99 price tag. The game looks great and totally HD. Perhaps this is partially due to the limited number of enemy character models (the main levels only have 2, badger and bird), platforms (they just have different colors and arrows), and basically one obstacle (three different colored spikes). Nevertheless the game looks crisp, colorful, and sharp. The characters are pleasing to the eye and the backgrounds look like a 21st century version of a Fruitopia commercial. I read on the publisher's blog that they were a bit concerned about upgrading the graphics from the iOS version of the game. Said concern was over the backgrounds becoming a distraction to the concentration needed to play the game. The only time I experienced any such distraction was in world 4.

World 4 is also my personal highlight from the game's stellar soundtrack. Overall the music is very cool with specific tunes for each world. The yelps generated by Chubbins whenever he met his demise caused people watching me play the game to laugh out loud. I have no doubt the game makers also laughed when they recorded this sound bite. It would have been nice to have an old school sound test just for these yelps.

You can control the rabbit with the D-pad, L and R triggers, ZL and ZR triggers or any combination of these. I say that truthfully as I found myself using the D-pad to go left and the ZR trigger to go right in some areas. I do like the Wii U Pro Controller for its ample D-pad but ultimately found the tightest control to be with the Wii U Gamepad in Off-TV Play. However, this may be due to the closer proximity of the game to the players eyes.

At times I despised this game. It beat me down aplenty but I kept coming back for more. I believe the desire to keep playing Chubbins is based on the fact that is so finely crafted across the board. The characters are engaging,  the gameplay is tough but never cheap, and defeating each level (especially the boss battles) yields some of the greatest satisfaction a gamer can get. Fans of the "Nintendo-hard" genre will love this game.

I give Chubbins a high score based on it own merits. It is not the next Super Mario 3D World nor does it set out to be. It is a great game at a great price. It would be a great game at twice the price and it is a cool story to know that a couple of brothers who grew up on Nintendo got a game published by their favorite company. I look forward to Dahku Creations next offering.

Chubbins will be available on the Wii U eShop on June 5, 2014

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