The Adventures of Shuggy

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The Adventures of Shuggy
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The Adventures of Shuggy
Platform, Puzzle
PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
Reviews based on the XBLA version
Publisher: Valcon Games
Developer: Smudged Cat Games
Release Date: June 15th, 2011
Achievement Guide Available
The Adventures of Shuggy, such an odd title for a new, yet heavily obscure title. This little Platforming Puzzle gem can be found on the digital marketplaces for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles, and it will immediately leave players with mixed emotions. You play as the main character, Shuggy, a purple bat thing with vampire teeth and a cape, who just inherited a castle. Now, it’s up to you and some of your non-playable character friends to clear it of varying threats including spiders, hornets, mostquitos, ghosts, zombie, robots, random floating balls that are mines, and more in a 2D setting. While the cartooney approach to the game is enjoyable, it’s the frustrations this game employs that will have players on the edge, especially those with no friends.

There’s a few ways to play this game, and for the most part the main Single Player Story Mode really offers up the most fun for the player. The approach is a simple Platforming game that has you solving puzzles or navigating your way through hazards to obtain gems. Collect all the gems and clear the level. There’s a number of levels, over one hundred total in this mode, scattered about through five different settings including a graveyard, dungeon, clock tower, gallery and boiler room. The puzzles start off simple and offer up some interesting gaming dynamics such as making the screen spin to get gems, utilizing ropes and pulley systems, time travel, and various other things along those lines. These subtle changes to the gameplay do offer up a variety of other methods to complete puzzles and get around hazards, but some of these levels can become an absolute nightmare.

All of the puzzles to this game are pretty blunt and obvious. There’s no real difficulty to this game other then your ability to comprehend what is in front of you. However, this doesn’t mean some puzzles won’t annoy you, and many become trial and error. Of course some puzzles, like a later puzzle where you have to move a giant floating boulder around with a ledge out of reach to jump on top. You don’t know you need to navigate the boulder to the ledge, then move it to the edge so the gems on top fall down, which is something never explained in the game. Of course, some stages have a screen that appears that gives you some information, and a quote that is meant to help, but other times it simply doesn’t. The ghost boss in the Gallery is the most annoying, as there are three Shuggy’s you can swap out and play as, and four switches, but you never really get to know which ones to push, so a simple task can take countless tries, and if you don’t defeat the ghost when you get the pattern right it resets itself and you have to do this all over again while it chucks paintings at you from the top floor and moves downward.

Overall the Single Player Story Mode is enjoyable despite it insulting your intelligence as it progresses. The comic book style story progression that appears when you finish one part of the castle does move the story along and introduces each of the villain types, and even some of the obstacles are introduced. The computer’s AI does a good job at progressing multiple player levels, and never gets hit, which is something most games for today simple don’t have and makes for a nice change of pace. However it would have been nice to have drop-in, drop-out co-op to this. And this is really where things become annoying. This game has the Single Player Story Mode, and it has a Co-Op Mode, but neither seem to work together, and don’t offer any standard ideas to make it a more enjoyable experience.

Co-Op is a collection of multiplayer specific maps, which is fine, but some from Single Player would have been nice, or even a larger journey similar to Single Player. But, at the same time the lack of levels in Co-Op is actually something to be thankful for considering there is no On-Line Multiplayer available in this game at all, just Local Co-Op. This isn’t to say there’s no multiplayer period, as there as a seperate section to go on and play small challenges to collect gems and beat your opponent to the last one in the same manner as the Single Play Story Mode levels, but no on-line Co-Op. And with that, the Local Co-Op just feels tacked on and as if nobody cared. These modes became frustrating for someone who works the graveyard shift and doesn’t have many visitors, let alone any that are good at gaming, which caused the casual Co-Op mode to be a nightmare of using two controllers at once and dealing with my fiancee forgetting to press the only button in the entire game: The jump button. At this point, one would assume Co-Op would have On-Line support standard, but this is one of many games to be introduced this year that didn’t have it.

Of course, the graphics look great with their 2D cartoonish appeal. The characters look cute but git the somewhat gothic atmosphere of the castle. The borders to the screen become very irritating however, and at times make it look and feel like you’re playing a 2D title from the sixteen bit era with standard definition displays with upgraded high definition graphics. The controls are insanely simple, using left analog stick to move and one button coming into play the jump. Of course there’s a button to go through doors and grab onto ropes, and for the most part only appears in the last two parts of the castle.

The achievements/trophies for the game are set to the traditional standard of twelve total. The goals here are slightly varied, and again can make you feel stupid, such as one achievement to clear one of the first stages in sixteen seconds, and if not examing it in the simplest form, you will try again and again to beat the clock, only to fail. There’s three achievements like that which are level specific, the rest are single player based dealing with clearing the parts of the castle, as well and beating the final boss and completing every single level in the game, and another for completing every level in Local Co-Op.

The Adventures of Shuggy makes for a great single player pick up and play game, but the game itself ends up being pretty short. If you’re good at solving puzzles, and have a friend who can remember to hit the one button necessary and decent at Platforming games, you can complete this in roughly eight hours. But still, the puzzles end up being rather simple, and most of the time less then thirty seconds a level. It would be nice to have some more challenging levels outside of “don’t hit the thing blocking your path” outside of the boss fights, and definitely a better on-line Co-Op system since the Multiplayer matches are not that interesting, and due to the lack of enjoyable Co-Op on-line, not many matches can even be had on-line due to the dead community. Overall, as a single player experience, it’s well worth checking out on a random weekend if you have nothing to do. It’s not a bad title, but some of it’s fundamentals seem to be lost in the last gaming generation.

Overall Score: 7/10


Digital review copy of this title provided by personal funds.