Adventures of Shuggy Game Review: Feline in Name Not in Nature
Adventures of Shuggy is a game that offers a theme you're not likely to come across too often - a ghostbusting, purple vampire-cat in a 2D puzzle-platformer that delivers a great deal of content for a small price.
A Haunted House…
You'll be guiding Shuggy through hundreds of rooms that are full of a range of nasty inhabitants within your late grandfather's mansion. In each level, the aim is to collect all of the gems present as quickly as possible. The theme reminds me of the old cartoon Count Duckula, but things will get stranger yet.
…And a Time-travelling
Adventures of Shuggy doesn't just rely on one mechanic. Working through the rooms, you'll come across a handful of different ones that are used regularly.
Most interesting of these are the levels that include time travelling. There will be a clock in the corner of the screen - when this reaches the hour a mirage of yourself will appear - the idea is to use it to open doors for you or disable objects that you couldn't otherwise get past. You'll need to avoid this image of yourself, too, as running into it will force you to restart the level. It's a mechanic that I don't see often - even if it is becoming a bit of a trend - but it's one that hasn't worn out its welcome just yet.
Release Date: 13/06/2012
Available on: PC
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Not far behind time travelling is the rope-swinging mechanic. On these levels, you'll make use of a rope that's attached to a winch in order to sometimes levitate yourself (remember performing rope gymnastics in Worms?) or sometimes running it around gears and cogs to move or ride platforms that would otherwise be stationary. The rope clings to you like spider's silk, and is something that can become an unmitigated mess if you don't take the time to think about where you need to be and what needs to move.
One of the first mechanics you're introduced to is level rotating. In these rooms, you'll need to spin the level around in order to get over jumps that otherwise wouldn't be possible. This is a very simple idea but one that feels sufficiently challenging and engaging to keep you entertained, even though they do appear to crop up more often than some of the others. Sometimes you'll need to move around the levels, and other times you'll need to bring the gems to you.
The most mundane of the core mechanics is the time manipulating aspect. These levels boil down to making slow-moving little ball-like creatures speed up when you have them going in the direction or on the surface that you want, so that they can break gems out of secure crates. The little creatures will act like sticky lemmings, defying gravity and following the same path around an object (or the entire level, if the platform they're on is connected to the borders) until you run over them - at which point they'll jump a moderate distance and stick to any surface they make contact with.
These levels are all about getting them in the right place and then speeding up time and waiting for them to do their thing. Not the most entertaining premise that Adventures of Shuggy has to offer.
Jack of All Trades
Master of None. None of these potentially interesting mechanics are developed in any meaningful way. They remain as they were introduced even in the very latter stages of the game, which is disappointing. They could have done away with a couple of the more standard mechanics and focused on evolving the more interesting ones, such as the rope swinging and time travelling.
Similar criticisms can be made of the lack of variation in objectives. It's always the same. Aside from the odd boss levels (which still are completed only when you've collected all gems), there's little deviation in this aspect of the game. It would have been nice to see something like the occasional level that has you collecting as many gems as possible before a time limit expires, or levels that do away with the gems altogether and have you take out enemies with limited ammunition.
The game starts off relatively easy, but by the end it becomes a serious challenge, forcing you to restart levels over and over, which is not a problem in itself if you like that idea, but for people who go into this expecting a casual game - something that the game appears to be for a significant portion of the early stages - you may find your opinion of the game souring as it descends into the realm of Super Meat Boy frustration.
At €4.99, Adventures of Shuggy is a polished, well-crafted game that offers a lot of content for the price. That being said, its flaws and lack of evolving mechanics forces its value to rely on whether or not you become bored of them in their basic forms. If you're looking for a cat-themed adventure, then you might be disappointed at how little reference is made to your feline nature.
I don't know if I like this game. At times I do, others I don't. If it sounds like the type of thing that you'll enjoy, the price point makes it easily affordable and worth a closer look. If you're prone to smashing controllers, screens or keyboards in fits of anger, stay away!
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Adventures of Shuggy is developed by Smudged Cat Games Ltd.