Review: Gummy Bears Magical Medallion (3DS eShop)

Bearly playable

The product description for Gummy Bears Magical Medallion promises a "classic adventure platformer with a Gummy Bears twist". That twist, apparently, is that the game is awful.

The excusably nonsensical plot revolves around the evil King Sour Berry stealing the Magical Medallion from...well, nevermind where he stole it from, or who was meant to be guarding it, or any kind of logic whatsoever. The game just says he stole it, and now it's up to you, a terminally obese and poorly-controlled gummy bear, to get it back. If you care enough to do so. Which, we promise, you won't.

Calling Gummy Bears Magical Medallion a bad game is actually misleading, because it barely qualifies as a game at all — and certainly not a functional one. The experience constantly threatens to fall apart in a game-breaking crash, as though the source code is held together with stale duct tape.

For starters the game's most notable issue is the fact that its 3D effect is, in a word, broken. We at Nintendo Life have a lot of experience with the 3DS by this point, and while we've often pointed out that we were disappointed by 3D that didn't add anything to games, this is the first time we can say that the 3D made us physically sick.

This is no exaggeration; the 3D is improperly implemented to the point that it causes nausea. Instead of two images being combined to provide the illusion of depth, Gummy Bears Magical Medallion provides two images that don't quite manage to come together and so just barely overlap and cause a feeling of motion sickness in the player. There's no excuse for this, and no reason it shouldn't have been caught by the developers before release. We played through one single level like this, and then had to sit down and recover for a few hours before picking up the game again. Needless to say, we switched off the 3D from that point on, though we did keep checking to see if it improved later in the game. It didn't, and just looking at it was enough to make us feel sick again.

Additionally the frame rate, even with the 3D off, is atrocious. The game stutters and strains to render its dull, empty levels in a way that we simply don't understand. There's no legitimate reason that a featureless gummy bear swinging on a rope should grind the 3DS's processor to a halt, but it does, dropping sometimes as low as a single frame per second.

That's just the presentation of the game; things get worse when you actually try to play it. For instance, your gummy bear must have been lost under a couch for several years before starring in this adventure, because he controls so stiffly that it's a chore just to move him around. His main goal is to reach the end of each level, as you might expect, but the small spattering of enemies and springs manage to become enormously frustrating obstacles when the main character controls like he's impaled on a spike. Sometimes, by the way, the controls simply stop working for a few seconds. There's no reason for this, and if it happens while you're trying to hop over a pit, then so be it.

This sounds like it would make for an uninspired but passable game, as long as they fixed the controls, frame rate and sickening 3D effect, but other issues rear their heads quickly. In particular, the locked doors, which see you solving puzzles or playing a basic memory game in order to advance. There's no penalty for failure, but it's a needless way of further slowing the game's already painfully sluggish pace. The best part is that you can solve a puzzle, take a few steps through the open door, and be killed instantly by a tower that collapsed without warning in the background and crushed your gummy bear.

We know it sounds like we're exaggerating, but we're not. This is genuinely what passes for level design in Gummy Bears Magical Medallion: pointless, uncontrollable platforming sections followed by an instant kill from a background element. After which, of course, you have to go back and play that memory game all over again.

There's also an insultingly stupid implementation of the touch screen, as your gummy bear will come up against certain obstacles that need to be tickled away. At least that's the verb we came up with, since the game requires you to rub your finger vigorously — and we do mean vigorously — against the bottom screen until the obstacle just disappears. This is immensely silly when you're "tickling" gigantic boulders away, and it's the only thing that could make you look more foolish in public than the sheer fact that you're playing a Gummy Bear game in the first place.

Scattered throughout each stage are optional candies and fruit to collect, and if you do manage to find all of them the stage will be marked with a gold star on your world map. Of course, a much better reward would be the game deleting itself from your 3DS and issuing a full and complete refund.

Conclusion

Gummy Bears Magical Medallion is a terrible game. Forgive us for being so blunt about it, but we wouldn't be able to sleep tonight if we didn't make that perfectly clear. The controls are stiff and unresponsive, the 3D effect is broken to the point that it literally induces nausea, and the constantly stuttering frame rate is un-bear-able. This game sets out to provide an incredible journey through enchanted lands, but it feels and plays a lot more like a death march. This is a strong contender for the worst game in the eShop, and we have a feeling it will be for a very long time.