Today’s game is one of those Steam releases that eventually find a way to consoles, often repackaged or enhanced, like this little platformer by italian team Chubby Pixel, now sold digitally on modern platforms with the new “Deluxe” monicker, for 2 bucks. I got it on sale (if anything because the sale remembered me of this one existing) for the Switch, and after playing it on and off for some time, i feel it’s time to review it as a sign of “camaraderie” of sorts to me fellas. 🙂
The premise is that Wood Land is dying, and you, a lone freak wood stump that grew legs and hands, are tasked by the Great Voxel Deku Tree to venture into the 8 worlds and recover droplets of magic water to restore the land, with a rush, a push, a pouch for collecting fruit and a magic leaf for swatting the opposition, immune to the usual “murder by jumping” method of platformer assassination.
Like it advertises, it’s a throwback to simpler 3D platformer experiences, wearing it’s Super Mario inspiration on its face, made even more obvious by a dedicated button to hold for running and the overall atmosphere, with worlds that share the penchant for “flying worlds in the sky uncaring of gravity” as the famous “challenge sessions” in Super Mario Sunshine, or the 3D Land/World sub-series, just in case Chubby Pixel’s inspirations weren’t clear as day at first glance.
Although the enemies design are clearly more inspired by Keita Takahashi (Katamary Damacy, Wattam, Noby Noby Boy), with a tiny bit of Loco Roco thrown in there, and if anything, they’re cute, not much of a menace, but they’re not meant to be more than obstacles in the way of platforming, easily dispatched by a single preventive blow of your “offensive leaf” (as they run faster than you might expect after they spot you) or avoided all together. So easily that i feel kinda bad when i have to kill them.
SUPER STUMP BROTHERS
The gameplay itself is alright, if amauterish: it’s a typical, as basic a 3D platformer as you can imagine, but not even a Rare style collectathon, as the main goal is to reach the end of the level with all 3 magic water droplets collected, and collect fruit in order to unlock other levels. The level design leaves some minor room for exploration, but the levels themselves are not that big (nor small either), so you won’t get lost or reach a point where you need a specific ability that unlocks later in the game.
You don’t even have a double jump.
Though at time i wish you did, as jumping is a bit floaty and the camera often is just terrible. While the collision detection is quite forgiving and makes the slighty slippery controls (especially after having landed) not as problematic as you’d think, the camera will instead be the culprit of most deaths, not that the games has a lives’ system, but you’ll learn to avoid deaths more than usuals because of a faulty checkpoint system that will make you respawn at the beginning of the stage (keeping all collectables, thankfully) regardless of where you died. And there’s no way to know what place is supposed to be a respawn area until you die, just copying more stuff from Mario like the checkpoint flag would have been welcomed, honestly.
This lack of polish extends to the little main hub you start in, kinda pointless since you can just select the level by swatting at it’s “sphere”, you can’t tell which levels you cleared just by looking or touching their respective “globe” (only the extra ones are marked as “new!”), all inside of your small little house. Admittely, there is some use to the main hub, as you can see what you got or can unlock by collecting fruits, be it an extra level or some upgrades to your leaf, making it cause whirlwinds when you attack.. Don’t know why though, the main leaf is more than enough for dealing with every enemy in the game, as they all fall dead after being hit once.
There’s no final boss, you just collect all the water droplets, save the day, and all is well in the time of 1 hour max, thank you for playing, and back to the hub to enter the extra levels unlocked…. or equip the unlockable bandana. Because why not, i guess, it’s cute. Still, i’d wish the game made more clear what levels you have or haven’t played, it’s not unscrutable or anything, but it’s polish that should have been added in the “Deluxe” edition, which is still a bit rough overall.
As hinted to before, the most grating issue of all is the terrible camera, even more because they decided to NOT give you any useful manual camera control, just zoom in/zoom out, while is nearly useless with some of the fixed camera angles you end up stuck with, making fairly standard or reasonable platform challenges way harder than they oughta be by making hard to misure distances reliably, and the flat colors of a terrain blending with edge of it, makin it hard to know if you’re near said edge or not.
I’m too fond of the attitude of “1 person made it, be generous, pretty please”, but it’s credited as a Fabio Ferrara game (so i guess older than the existing team as listed on their website), it’s priced accordingly and humbly, and it’s made in Unity by a person that clearly cared, and not just coded some pre-bought shit together and kicked it out on Steam just to make some cash from the gullible, uninformed, or desperate. And yeah, it’s kinda pointless to pretend much from an 8 years old game made as a “starting project” and updated to get some money and recognition of an old project outside of the cesspool that Steam has become.
I’d talk about the audio a bit, but it’s what you’d expect from a small project like this, all tracks and sound effects from royalty free or cheap libraries, so you’ll end up hearing familiar sound effects, like the sound it makes when you pause the menu it’s the MSN “message received” sound effect, i swear, but the tracks are cute, and overall the audio department is ok, and befitting the overall pleasing nature of the game.
Level design is actually alright, all thing considered, nothing fancy, actually nothing outside the very basics of platformer games since the beginning of forever, but it’s pleasant despite being very basic, and i mean it, basic, but it’s easy and approachable like it advertises. Just remember this is basically “my first proper 3D platform ever”, and it’s an appreciable effort, an enjoyable little game that was never meant to be anything more than that, worth picking up for a couple of bucks.
There’s also a sequel, oddly called just “Woodle Tree 2” (also available in its Deluxe form on modern consoles), instead of “Woodle Tree Adventures 2”.