All too often there are games that seem to fly under the radar of the mainstream, overshadowed by the big boys (FIFA, Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc) and left to enjoy a tiny quantity of mainstream success that bears no correlation to their immense critical achievement. One such game is The Adventures of Shuggy, a fantastic puzzle platform game from Smudged Cat games that sadly swooped in well below everyone’s radar on the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade in 2011. Its gameplay is a wonderful mixture of platforming and puzzles, with gem-collecting and key-attaining being the main objective of the fun, though its attractive design also gets a decent mention in this review.
Dark Premise, Light-Hearted Gameplay
The premise of The Adventures of Shuggy mixes a dark, horror-themed backstory with puzzle-filled gameplay designed to (at first) lure you in with their accessibility but soon have you pulling out your hair. You play as the character mentioned in the title – Shuggy, who’s a vampire no less – and you’ve inherited a castle from a relative. The trouble is, the castle is infested with all manner of creepy bad-guy types, from rats to bees and ghastly spiders, contact with which will cause immediate death and a restarting of your level. So it’s your job to rid the castle of these harmful creatures, by collecting gems and also uncovering the coveted keys.
The result of the above premise? A supremely satisfying, if at times soul-crushingly frustrating platform game packed with brain-teasing conundrums which blend perfectly with the arcade-game-style platforming.
Gameplay mechanics aren’t simply limited to moving Shuggy around however; its developers, Smudged Cat Games, were a little more creative in the development process than that. Some stages require you to rotate the entire level (that is, all you can see on the screen) in order to access certain items. Others involve a bit of time-travel mechanics whereby you’re witnessing past-Shuggy make movements on the screen from half a minute previously, which makes for some tantalisingly challenging sections of gameplay.
A Game to Last
One of the best aspects of The Aventures of Shuggy is how much longevity it will provide. The single-player gameplay consists of around 100 levels, so there’s no shortage of solo action to enjoy. More intriguing, however, are the co-op levels – around 36 in all – which allow you to team up with a fellow player in order to tackle the puzzles together. Competitive multiplayer serves to augment the experience even further, in challenges that range from collecting the most gems in a specified period of time to simple re-jigs of the standard gameplay only with you taking it in turns to have a go at each of the levels on offer.
The game’s presentation is also a factor that works in its favour. It’s certainly got the old-school arcade-game look down to a tee. It’s very reminiscent of some of the underground scenes of the older Super Mario computer games, and even the old Metroid/Super Metroid at times.
Still, this gamet hasn’t got quite as much sheen on it as some of the modern-day adventure platformers, nor has it got the kind of artistic prominence of games like Little Wheel (flash-based) or the incredible Fez (PC and Console), but it can be forgiven due to its massive bulk of content and, well, because its design isn’t awful by any means.
What you get with The Adventures of Shuggy in the end is value for money. For around £1.99 you can pick up this game and its serious bulk of content – edging on 150 levels in total – for you to enjoy at your leisure. Sure you can get games for free on flash-gaming websites like Teknokat which also covers the game, but Shuggy is a few steps above the freebie ones. Each stage has a distinctly unique atmosphere too, so don’t for one second think you’ll be playing the same-looking stages over and over. This is a supreme puzzle game that can be picked up for an outrageously cheap price – it is highly recommended to give it a go!