The Adventures of Shuggy is a 2D platformer that takes place in an old Scottish mansion recently inherited by young Shuggy, a cartoon vampire. To clear the mansion of evil spirits he must venture through the five different areas of the mansion, The Dungeon, The Boiler Room, The Gallery, The Graveyard and The Clocktower. Progress through the mansion is punctuated by comic book cut scenes and the occassional boss encounter. Various different mechanics give each level a fresh spin with Shuggy travelling in time, swinging on ropes, rotating levels, turning into a zombie, shrinking, growing, flying, teleporting and more.
What We Think:
To say that there is a glut of 2-D platformers in the indie scene is a bit of an understatement. If the big AAA studios are notorious for making the same eye-candy multiplayer FPS game over and over again, the same can be said for indie developers and platformers. In much the same way as the Japanese honed the process of brewing a cuppa, indie developers have refined the core concept of Donkey Kong to the point where further development is probably not possible without alien technology. Making a 2-D platformer as an indie studio is a pretty safe bet if you’re looking for a middling success; bonus points for pixelated graphics.
It becomes a somewhat riskier project if you’re trying to really make a splash. Since the market’s pretty much flooded, it takes a really outstanding effort to make a platformer that will stand out from the crowd. You’ve got to stay true to the genre, and you’ve got to get the mechanics just right. But, you’ve got to add something to separate your game from the rest of the pack, something that will lift it above the host of other games clamoring for attention.
The Adventures of Shuggy pulled it off.
It starts with a simple formula: jumping from platform to platform, avoiding monsters, seizing treasure, and getting from point A to point B. Add a variety of bite-size levels, different enough from each other to consistently provide challenge, but short enough to avoid tedium. Then throw in a host of ingenious level-specific mechanics, such as time warps, rotating levels, and helpful allies. The result is a neat little platformer that manages to be retro and innovative at the same time. It’s a tough trick to pull off, but Shuggy does it well.
The game boasts over 100 levels, which are accessed by beating levels and collecting keys. You use the keys you win to open up new parts of Shuggy’s castle, each with its own distinct style. The motif is cartoon-spooky; think Castlevania with a G rating. The music suits the light-hearted feel, and features a saxophone that actually reminds me of the theme to “Sanjuro”, oddly enough. Controls are as simple as they can be, making the game very playable with just a keyboard. And, for added replayability, each level can be repeated to get a shorter completion time. Online leaderboards add some competitiveness to what runs the risk of being an almost too easygoing game experience.
The Adventures of Shuggy is a gem of a platformer. Fans of the genre will appreciate the crisp controls and retro feel. Casual gamers will enjoy the successful balance of challenge and ease that keeps the game interesting without becoming frustrating. Some might miss the lack of resolution options, but even running in a window I found the presentation crisp, attractive, and—most importantly—clear. The Adventures of Shuggy is a standout entry in the crowded indie platform genre, and definitely worth your time.