Published on June 15th, 2012 | by Sam Desatoff, Editor
Review: The Adventures of Shuggy (PC)
Publisher: Valcon Games
Developer: Smudged Cat Games
Platform: Xbox 360/PC (Steam reviewed)
The downloadable indie game space is ripe with well polished gems worthy of the generous amount of fanfare they rightly receive. Titles like Limbo and Bastion prove that a multimillion dollar budget and a crew of hundreds are not required to create engaging experiences. Developer Smudged Cat Games’ The Adventures of Shuggy borrows heavily from many high-profile indie titles, and the mish-mash works to the detriment of the game. For all the charm Shuggy has, I can’t shake the feeling that the mechanics are simply emulating games that have already done it better.
Shuggy is a small cartoon vampire who has just inherited a haunted castle. In an effort to exercise his new home, Shuggy works his way through dozens of rooms solving puzzles and putting the stirring spirits to rest.
The game takes place in a 2D format broken up into hubs. Each hub contains a number of small rooms that denote the different levels. Most levels take just a minute or two to complete, and each rewards a key which helps to unlock the next hub. This formula makes it easy to pick up and play Shuggy for short bursts, but I can’t help but think this type of pacing would be a better fit on mobile platforms such as the iPhone or Android devices.
The majority of levels involve puzzle solving, such as Shuggy creating copies of himself to operate switches that remove obstacles that previously barred his way.
The entire mechanic feels derived from The Misadventures of P.B. Winderbottom, which in itself is not a bad thing, except Shuggy leans far too heavily on it’s superior peer–too much of the game consists of this single mechanic. That’s not to say that Shuggy isn’t without its charm. I found myself scratching my head at more than a few smart puzzles and felt a genuine sense of accomplishment when I figured them out.
Problems with the controls started rearing their heads when Shuggy was presented with levels that required precise jumps. Jumping feels floaty, making it difficult to judge how much momentum was needed to reach narrow landings in the middle of a lava pit or time your leap with a rotating platform. This led to quite a few deaths that I felt no responsibility for. In levels requiring Super Meat Boy-style precision, this can lead to frustration.
Overall, The Adventures of Shuggy is well-intentioned. The cartoony art style is charming, and many puzzles are well designed. But several mechanics are borrowed from games that simply do it better. I see no reason to choose this completely middle-of-the-road experience over one of those other fantastic choices.
+ Art style
– Leans too heavily on borrowed mechanics
– Floaty controls
– Odd choice of platform, given the arcade-style pacing