Reviewed: July 13, 2011
Released: June 15, 2011
With the advent of casual gaming, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the true gems amongst the mountains of Bejeweled clones, Scrabble knockoffs, and farming simulators. But every now and then, we do come across a real gem, and Indie developer Smudged Cat Games has provided one with their Xbox Live Arcade release, The Adventures of Shuggy. |
The Adventures of Shuggy’s storyline is a bit goofy – Shuggy is a young cartoon vampire who has inherited the mansion of his Scottish grandfather with one hitch – the mansion is infested with evil spirits and Shuggy sets out to eradicate the pests room-by-room, simply by collecting the gems that are hidden throughout. The story is told through a series of comic-book flavored cutscenes, and Shuggy himself looks like something from a child’s notebook doodles.
At first glance, The Adventures of Shuggy appears to be little more than a 2D single-screen platformer along the lines of the original Mario Brothers, Burger Time and say, Crystal Castles. But it doesn’t take long to see that Shuggy as a whole lot more to offer in a wealth of fantastically changing gameplay mechanics that make navigating each of the game’s 100-plus levels as refreshing as it is challenging.
Yes, The Adventures of Shuggy may look like a 2D platformer, but it plays like a collection of mini-games. Similar to Nintendo’s Wario series, The Adventures of Shuggy forces the gamer to figure out how to manipulate the gameplay mechanics within each level – with the ultimate goal of getting the vampire hero Shuggy around the environments to collect the gems.
Some of the levels are pretty simple, requiring the gamer to simply rotate the world bringing distant gems into reach. But as the game progresses, new and more complex concepts are added to the mix, including time-travelling, teleportation, belt-and-pulley fabrication, and shape-shifting. Once mastered, levels technically can be completed in a matter of a minute or two – but the trick is figuring out the puzzle which can be a mind-bending exercise in trial-and-error. Thankfully, failures simply reset the level allowing gamers a no-fault second chance (or third, fourth, hundredth, etc.) at figuring it out. There is a certain level of frustration to be had, but seldom is it unbearable.
In terms of presentation, Shuggy delivers a nice spooky ambiance given the rather simple graphics. Similar to the haunted houses from the typical Mario title, there is no shortage of gothic imagery, cobwebby corners, and smoky specters in each level. The sound quality is not as impressive, but it gets the job done.
For 800ms points ($10), Shuggy might seem like it is a tad overpriced based simply on the screenshots, but I encourage gamers to give the demo a trial run to see if the unique gameplay is as appealing to them as it i to me. Considering the game has over 100 levels and even supports local co-op play, $10 goes a long way.