Chimpuzzle Pro is CW-Games’ first offering on the Nintendo Wii U eShop, building on the company’s previous Chimpuzzle (for PC/Mac/Linux) by adding five new levels. In Chimpuzzle Pro, the object is to save the auto-walking monkey Bobo from hazards by building up a partially completed obstacle course using Tetris-style block placement, all to safely guide his little soldier self to the particle-throwing goal in one piece. The game's concept is certainly a good one, but the execution is sadly flawed.
The TV view centres on Bobo, while the GamePad view shows the entire level and the available selection of blocks. To place a block, tap it and it will start falling from the top of the screen. While falling, the block can be moved using left and right on the D-pad — pressing up will rotate the falling block clockwise, and pressing down will hasten its fall (just be careful not to squish Bobo). Details are hard to make out on the full view of the course on the GamePad, partly because of the screen size and partly because of the game’s colouring.
The visuals are dark and muddy, with a predominantly brown colour scheme that's entirely appropriate for a jungle, but not so much for a video game. Setting the television and GamePad up to ‘retinal sear’ brightness will help the details became clearer (not that they ever become good). Another problem is that Bobo, also brown and the thing you need to focus on most, blends in with background. Although the chimp is blocky and his animation doesn’t remotely suggest anything from nature, he’s actually quite endearing; his death shriek is mercifully short.
Some ideas are almost well-executed but a lack of polish, especially in the user interface, prevents them from being as good as they could be. Allowing the user to start placing blocks before Bobo starts his march is a great idea. Moving the countdown indicator so it doesn’t cover up what you’re trying to do would be even better; the countdown indicator also doesn’t clear when the Select menu is brought up, and although the options are still mostly readable it’s rather messy. The ‘Restart?’ indicator that points to the restart button in the upper-left of the GamePad’s screen appears at random, and not only when a level becomes impossible to complete because of bad block placement; it doesn’t clear from the screen once the level reloads. In addition, the one tutorial indicator that appears in the first level is a bamboo-themed window with a somewhat small font over black space, and could have been made a bit larger and easier to read without covering up any of the level’s layout.
Easily the best aspecs of the game, to move onto a positive, are the music and sound effects. The music is on a shortish loop but its bouncy, upbeat bongos are a treat; the sound effects fit right in with all of the onscreen action.
Chimpuzzle Pro uses a subtractive scoring system, meanwhile. You start each level with five hundred points, and take deductions for the number of blocks and the number of rotations you use while playing the level, encouraging Parkour-like efficiency when trying to make the courses non-fatal to our little auto-walking monkey friend. After a few levels you can really get the hang of the controls and the spatial puzzling aspect and really look forward to guiding Bobo to his next little particle spitter — until you run right up against Chimpuzzle Pro’s game-breaking issue.
The problem is that the blocks appear at the top of the screen at random positions along the length of the course. For most levels, this might only cause minor headaches and may make it a bit more difficult to get the piece into the right position with the right rotation in time, but in some levels with particularly tall already-standing blocks as part of the course, if a particular block doesn’t spawn at exactly the right location, the level becomes impossible to complete as the user-selected block cannot be moved past already-standing obstacles. The level select menu is also no help here — it appears to allow free access to all levels (there are no lock indicators or greyed-out buttons), but if you try to go to a level you haven’t completed only the last uncompleted level will load.
Chimpuzzle Pro’s gameplay starts with a great idea, but unfortunately some oversights in the execution work against the player’s goal of actually progressing through the game level by level. If these issues are fixed, Chimpuzzle Pro could be a fun little diversion with interesting gameplay at a good price. As of now it’s just broken.