September 29, 2012 10:00 PM | Staff
[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in the Oktoberfest Bundle running on IndieGames' co-created site, Indie Royale.]
If you haven't played Smudged Cat Games' The Adventures of Shuggy yet, you've missed one of the most consistently creative and entertaining platformers released for PCs this year. Originally brought forth on XBLA, The Adventures of Shuggy somewhat floundered before making the jump to a PC release on Steam and elsewhere. It's a good thing Shuggy made this jump, because this is a really solid platformer that any fan of the genre should try.
The Adventures of Shuggy follows the titular character, a "cartoon vampire" who inherits a weird, surreal castle full of nasties. In order to restore the castle to its former gothic splendour, Shuggy travels through five hub worlds to explore dozens of bite sized levels. While the game follows the same one hit instadeath model of many modern platformers, the short levels and snappy respawns are perfectly designed to minimize frustration. It's not a particularly uncommon platforming model in the post Super Meat Boy landscape, but The Adventures of Shuggy can definitely hold its own against the other modern classics of recent years through sheer inventiveness.
The aforementioned nasties would be bad enough, but each room of the castle is also packed with a staggering variety of physics bending elements and weird mechanics. I really can't emphasize the variety enough; many of the gimmicks have enough inventiveness to support an entire game around it, but Shuggy flips between these mechanics with abandon. You have levels where Shuggy rappels on a rope, changes size, controls multiple clones, works with an AI partner, sneaks by his past selves in a time loop, teleports at will, defies gravity, rotates the entire landscape and generally mucks about with the established formula of running and jumping.
It all comes together in a challenging game that is fun and easy to breeze through but genuinely tough to master. There's a lot of smart ideas at work here, like the non linear progression that prevents you from hitting a brick wall and allows for choice when faced with tough levels. Then you also have the requisite leaderboards as well as a totally unique offline co-op campaign to compliment the enjoyable single player challenges. Overall The Adventures of Shuggy is a perfect example of an unsung gem of a game, which is certainly reason enough to applaud the shiny new Oktoberfest Bundle. The fact that we have five more games to look at just sweetens the deal.
[Adventures of Shuggy and five other games are available in the current Oktoberfest Bundle on Indie Royale.]