[Review] Wunderling –Nintendo Switch

Written by Mel Curtis
  • Developer: Retroid Interactive
  • Publisher: Retroid Interactive
  • Release date: 5/3/2020
  • Price: £13.99 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by Retroid Interactive

Introducing: Wunderling Switch Review

I don’t think it is an uncommon thing for millennial gamers like myself (though I am the tail end of the generation) to have a certain fondness for platformers or collect-a-thons.  After all, these some of the games that came to define consoles in the minds of the public. I know that the original PlayStation will always be inextricably linked in my mind with Spyro the Dragon and Ape Escape. These mascot platformers defined childhood gaming for a lot of us, and still do for many young players today. That’s why it can be hard for something new to get a voice in a platformer conversation that is dominated by titans with years upon years of history behind them. That is also why I am here to hold up Wunderling and wave it in your face because this is a game that deserves attention!

A Look at the Other Side

When you first start up Wunderling, you get the fairly basic setup for a platforming game. You’re a carrot who can run and jump, and you have three lives. After what feels like a little tutorial stage, the carrot opens up a small portal with a staff stolen from a witch and remarks that he is coming to save Princess Pea. The dialog he has about this is pretty self-aware, with him making sure to say that he’s not doing it with the expectation of being rewarded with a lady love, because that is totally up to her (but, in the way that you totally know that’s what he actually wants, so calling attention to it just makes it seem more scummy than if he hadn’t. Amiright, ladies?) You expect to be thrown into the next level, but we linger here and the witch shows up with a cow sidekick and we are treated to more great dialog until it becomes clear what’s really going on.

We’re going to be playing as one of the easy, jump-on-their-head enemies that walks back and forth over and over in the early levels of a 2D platformer. The only difference between us and all the others? The witch has resurrected us from the dead and blessed us with the ability to jump so that we might chase down the terrible carrot!

I have to say that it is really a cute and creative conceit to base a game around. The high level of self-awareness in not only present in the dialog here, but the entire rest of the game as well, which is a real treat that I had not been fully expecting. It had me grinning at my Switch before I had even played any real level of the game and I was not disappointed as I kept going.

Hitting the Happy Sensor

So, you are a little yellow angry guy who can now jump. Sounds easy, right? Yes and no. You see, your old habits are not so easily broken and you will continuously walk back and forth, only turning when you hit a wall, so this is just as much puzzle game as it is a platformer. You need to keep an eye on the stage and jump at the right times to adventure your way through the levels as you enter them. Just as you start getting a feel for that, the game starts throwing you curve balls to make it more interesting than just jumping and moving. Each of them is introduced on their own before being combined with others, though, so you have plenty of time to get used to each new mechanic. Wunderling has a nice, smooth difficulty curve as a result. Most of the time when I got stuck, it was more that I could not see the solution to the puzzle and not my inability to execute what was needed, which I appreciated. There is some need for timing when it comes to jumping, but I always felt like any deaths were on me rather than the game being unfair. If I was trying over and over again, but failing as much, maybe I needed to try a different approach.

The other game play aspect of Wunderling is that thanks to your magical resurrection, you’re running entirely on magic, which is something your body isn’t actually meant to do. As a result, you need to collect little flower buds in order to keep yourself from literally exploding. There are plenty of these in each level and kind of act as a guiding line towards the end in most cases, but it is definitely a challenge to try and pick them up before you leave. What I personally appreciated about the way this is approached is that when you collect one, it stays collected and is replaced by a flower if you happen to meet your demise before leaving. There’s not as much pressure to be perfect, or even to get them on your first try at the level, so it’s a challenge that you can take at your own pace. That’s not to say that getting them all perfectly in one try isn’t rewarding, though, because it hit the happy button in my brain every single time that I managed to accomplish just that.

The flower buds are not the only collectibles in the game, however. Each level also has some kind of cosmetic for your grumpy little jumper, all of which show in the level as you are playing. These are not always very easy to get to and often involve finding an alternate path, but it’s an excellent reward for being able to think differently about how the level is laid out and how to get where you’re going. There was also nothing more exciting than accidentally finding my way into a secret level. This is one of those games that I feel really rewarded me for playing every time I finished a level to the best of my ability. It’s almost addicting, really!

Bounce and Shine!

The game’s presentation is one of the most fun that I have seen in a while. All the pixel sprites and worlds are just absolutely brilliant! The movement is cute and bouncy just like the aesthetic would make you think. The worlds are also littered with little extra touches that make it feel really alive, more so than some other, more realistic games that I have played. It was awesome to approach some little birds on the ground and have them scatter away in response. This is one of those games that just makes me happy looking at it.

The music is just what is needed in order to match the visuals. I was really sold when in the beginning portion, the carrot said to give him some of “that sweet world one music.” I hadn’t been paying too much attention to it because I had just started playing, but I paused and listened for a moment. Yeah, it was some sweet world one music! It feels like a send up of the games that Wunderling is both parodying and paying homage to, but still it has its own flair, so I did not find myself getting tired of at all in my play sessions.

Don’t Let This One Get Lost!

Wunderling is one of those games that I am afraid will get lost in the shuffle of indie titles on the eShop, which would be really sad, because this was just a pure joy to play the entire time I was going through it for my review. I didn’t get too many of the costumes on my way through, but I’m looking forward to going back and picking up the rest of them, if I can figure out how, that is.

Pros

  • Delightful art and sound
  • Clever concept that pays off in gameplay
  • Perfect mix of puzzle and platforming
  • Makes me very happy

Cons

  • I am not entirely sure if my angry baby is a lemon or potato…

Verdict

Wunderling is an absolutely delightful game that deserves your attention!

5/5

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