JellyCar 2 Review
Posted by Patrick Elliot
Are you ready for this jelly?
Ports can be a tricky business. Change too much about beloved game and fans of the title will likely gripe, while not adding any new content earns the moniker “lazy port.” Still, lots of games on WiiWare have managed to straddle this fence successfully, like Lilt Line and Crystal Defenders, while others like Space Trek fail miserably. Disney's platforming racer JellyCar 2 is already a hit on the App Store, and thankfully comes translated to WiiWare with all its charm in tact, complete with Wii Remote controls and some slightly updated graphics.
One of the first things you notice about this title is the sound. From the moment you load the title screen, you'll swear you're watching an episode of Rugrats with all the human-voiced sound effects and music. Each mode is represented by a block on the screen, with a Jelly Car bumping and rolling about on them, showcasing the JELLO-like physics the game is known for and emitting goofy sound effects with each undulation. Graphics are slightly upgraded from the iPhone version, but the game's sketchbook background and crayon-coloured worlds lend themselves nicely to the minimalist presentation. There are also several modes to choose from, some of which have nothing to do with cars, with the main play mode being Classic Mode.
Classic Mode features 12 tracks for players to race through, with the goal being to reach the chequered flag in good time and without falling off the screen. There are three difficulties, each with 12 tracks, but having all levels and difficulties unlocked off the bat takes the incentive away from plodding through all the easier courses. Wanna play the 12th level on hard mode right off the bat? Go ahead. Your high scores will be kept locally on the system – sorry, no online leaderboards.
Controlling the basics of your car is rather simple, with the traditional gas/reverse mechanic slapped on to the 1 and 2 button. Holding the Wii Remote horizontally, players can tilt left and right to shift their car's weight around, which helps negotiate the bouncy physics and hills, enabling you to throw more weight into your jumps and do things like somersaults. Most of the levels have platforming aspects to them, requiring you to bounce along treetops or launch yourself off a ramp. This must be done without a jump button though, so building up and managing momentum is the name of the game. You have the ability to enlarge your car too for short periods of time, done by pressing the A button. This is helpful when things go awry, as expanding your car right as you are about to slip through a gap can turn a harrowing row of leaps into a monster truck rally.
On top of this basic gameplay, the game also offers two power-ups scattered throughout the levels at points where they are most handy. One is a balloon which can soar your car up to new areas or help you recover from a big fall, with the other being “sticky wheels,” which lets your car defy gravity and climb any structure. These each have a dedicated button on the D-Pad, and can be activated and deactivated on the fly, which is nice if you want to ration their powers throughout the level.
Sometimes the weight-shifting mechanic can get confusing though, and you will definitely lose control of your vehicle more than a few times. This is mainly due to the level of sensitivity the game puts on the Wii Remote, with even the slightest shift affecting the car's weight. This means you have to hold the controller perfectly straight to stay balanced, and excited movements will likely result in a lengthy somersault. It's too bad the game doesn't let you adjust the sensitivity, as this would easily remedy the problem.
Once you've finished off Classic Mode, you can try some of the others, like Long Jump, which is basically three ramps from which you can launch your car off of, trying to get the longest distance. There is a two-player mode too that lets players race for the best time in the Classic Mode tracks, and a car customiser that lets you change the color of your car and wheels.
One of the oddest (and most challenging) modes included is Factory Mode, which has nothing to do with cars and racing, tasking the player with manipulating three levers in order to control the direction blocks falling from above. Each block must be led to a container of the same color, and hitting the levels opens or closes different tunnels to them. As you play, the blocks fall more frequently, and for each wrongly placed block a life meter on the side of the screen depletes. If it empties, it's game over. There may be just one level to play in this mode, but it's a lot of fun and helps break up the gameplay when you tire of the main courses.
The coolest mode however is the level editor, which lets you place structures, roads and power-ups to your liking to build courses. There are forty pieces that can be used, and once your masterpeice is complete you can place the flag to set the goal. Simply building huge ramps to fly off of is a lot of fun in and of itself, and if you loved building jumps in ExciteBike World Rally then you'll love doing it here too. Sadly though the levels can't be shared or downloaded online.
At a mere 500 Nintendo Points, JellyCar 2 comes with a lot of content to chew on, from hefty main courses to long distance jumping and multiplayer. There is even a stand-alone puzzle game good enough to merit its own Wiiware expansion. While the basic controls of driving your car are simple enough, the weight-shifting mechanic can become a bit muddled due to the high sensitivity, and with no option to adjust it the game can sometimes become frustrating. Still, there are plenty of power-ups to aid you – sticky wheels are definitely your friend here – and the level creator lets you craft your own course tailored to your skills. Add in to this a cheeky human-voiced soundtrack and sugary presentation, and you've got yourself a sweet little port that spreads it on thick.