Price: £6.80 (800 MS Points)
Format: Xbox 360 via XBLA
Publisher: Valcon Games
Ever since Braid first made us do funny things with time, puzzling platformers have been a key staple of the Xbox Live Arcade market place. The Adventures of Shuggy is the latest in that long-ish line of 2D, vaguely old-school platform games that incorporate puzzle mechanics into their gameplay, and whilst it might not reach the vaunted heights of its predecessors, it’s still well worth checking out.
Developed by Smudged Cat, the game tells the story of our titular hero, Shuggy. He’s inherited a house from his uncle, but unfortunately it’s overrun with ghosts, ghouls, goblins and poor plumbing. Shuggy decides to clear out his new abode, a process which involves him collecting buckets and buckets of glistening green gems. These gems then magically turn into keys, which the little vampire can use to unlock more rooms in the house.
There are over a hundred levels for you to work your way through, each of them featuring different devices for messing with the way the game plays. For example, some rooms need you to rotate the room itself, dropping Shuggy onto previously inaccessible ledges. Others feature multiple Shuggys, who you need to swap between in order to collect all of the gems. Some of the most interesting levels are the ones where, after a set time, a ghost Shuggy appears and repeats your actions.
The levels range from the frustratingly obscure to the spectacularly simple. Some of them you’ll breeze through in no time, laughing in the face of the spiky monsters and weird bouncing blobs that try and scupper your path. Then there are the levels that require patience, quick thinking and numerous tries to get right. While Shuggy never reaches the head scratching levels of Braid, nor the sheer frustration levels of something like Super Meat Boy, it still throws in some grotesque difficulty peaks here and there to make sure you’re paying attention.
The Adventures of Shuggy is a nice little package, with a cute, quirky art style and a fine line in upbeat ‘oom-pah’ tunes. It’s not as retro looking as some puzzling platformers, nor does it have quite so defining a style as something like Limbo, but it does have its own charm, and that makes it almost impossible to dislike. There’s plenty on offer for even the most hardcore of gamer to get their teeth into as well, with leaderboards and timed levels promising plenty of replay value.
Shuggy himself is a bit of an anachronism, a hark back to the golden age of the 16bit console when men were plumbers and hedgehogs were infeasibly fast. His game, on the other hand, has a much more modern flavour, albeit one tinged with the nostalgia that’s swept through download-only titles in recent years. The levels may not be quite so innovative as others of the same ilk, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had working your way through them.
The Adventures of Shuggy may not get so many column inches as the game that kick started the genre, but it’s still a worthwhile addition to any self respecting gamer’s download library.