games / Reviews

The Adventures of Shuggy (XBLA) Review

June 25, 2011 | Posted by Trace Aber

Game: The Adventures of Shuggy
Genre: Platformer/Puzzle
Players: 1-2
Developer: Smudged Cat Games
Publisher: Valcon Games
Rated E for Everyone

When I first saw the Adventures of Shuggy on XBLA, I didn’t really give the game a second glance. It looked like a cheap, poorly made game with no real purpose or motivation. Then I got the opportunity to review the game, and after reading about it for a bit I decided I’d give it a go. Having nearly finished it, I can honestly say that Shuggy might be one of the best platformers I’ve played on XBLA and it’s a shame that it has not received the attention it deserves.

The game has you taking control of Shuggy, an adorable bat/vampire who has recently inherited a castle with one catch: he must first rid it of the ghosts and baddies within. Sure, it doesn’t sound all that bad, but when you have over one hundred rooms to clear out you realize that’s a lot of haunted space you’ll need to clean up. Never fear, though, as Shuggy has quite a few tricks up his sleeve. Or cape, or wings, or whatever. He’s Shuggy, dude.

The levels are laid out in five different areas, each serving a different theme. You have the dungeon, boiler room, gallery, graveyard and the clock tower. Every level has the same goal: collect all of the gems in each room to find the hidden key. The keys open up more levels in each area, until you’ve beaten them on and eventually take on the boss. Once you complete a room, another one opens until you reach the clock tower.

What makes Shuggy stand out is that throughout these 100+ levels a new and/or improved mechanic is introduced each time. This keeps the game from getting boring and repetitive and instead consistently feels fresh and exciting. Some levels have you simply running around collecting gems while avoiding enemies. Others have you rotating the level, either so you can reach the gems or so the gems can reach you. There are a lot of time-bending levels as well, where a copy of you follows your same path, and then a copy of you follows your second path, and, well, it gets pretty damn confusing. Then there’s the multiple Shuggy levels, the rope levels, the infinite jump levels, and of course, rope swinging.

Most of the levels can be completed in under 45 seconds, though you’ll spend more time trying to figure out how to achieve that. Shuggy isn’t necessarily a hard game if you take your time, but you’re missing an integral aspect of the game. It’s one of the few titles that allows you to actively compete with other players by going for the best overall game completion time.

If you’re looking to play with friends, Shuggy has something for you as well. There are 20 exclusive levels to choose from and everyone must work as a team to complete the level. If one person dies, the whole team dies. Oddly enough, no other online game has made me feel more like a team than Shuggy. You really have to work together if you want to succeed, and it makes for an awesome, unexpected experience.

Multiplayer also has a Challenge mode, where players compete for the best time on stages set on a grid. Whomever gets the fastest time has control of that grid, meaning things can get pretty heated. You can also determine how many retries are allowed, giving you some customization options. Then there’s head-to-head, which is a race for the most gems.

Finally, Shuggy has a terrific art style that feels like it would fit right in with a cartoon lineup. If this game had more hype, I could easily see tons of Shuggy merchandise out there. He’s just too damn adorable. Everything is clear and sharp, and the animations help the overall charm of the game. Pictures don’t do it justice, nor do videos. You simply have to play and feel how good this game really is.

-Tons of mechanics and things to learn
-Great multiplayer action
-Unique and clean art style
-Leaderboards actually seem to mean something

-Will not receive the hype it deserves

The 411
I really don’t have anything bad to say about The Adventures of Shuggy. Some people might be turned off by the micro-levels, but that’s nitpicking. The levels always manage to stay fun and interesting and I am still impressed by the level design. For 800MP you can’t go wrong.

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Trace Aber
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