(Wii U eShop)

Chubbins (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Chubbins Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jake Shapiro

Feelin' chubby

Developed by two-man studio Dahku Creations, Chubbins is a minimalist platformer all about jumping. So much jumping, in fact, that you're never not jumping. As an adorable, rotund rabbit named Chubbins, you must reach the end of each level simply by steering your automatic jumps through obstacles and out of the way of enemies, with left and right movement as the only controls to speak of. With a small scope and limited budget, Dahku has turned this simple concept into a meaty, insanely challenging experience.

Every platform you bounce on has a spinning arrow on it; the faster the arrow is spinning, the higher your jumps from that platform will be. Dahku uses this mechanic for all sorts of jumping puzzles where you're required to jump at exactly the right trajectory to reach the next platform without falling into the abyss below. Spiked balls and enemies populate most levels, but since Chubbins is killed by a single hit and he (or she?) has no form of defensive capabilities, Chubbins must simply find a way to jump past them. End bosses force you to fight them by jumping on objects that hurt them, but since Chubbins isn't designed for battle, these sequences are awkward and boring; luckily, bosses only appear sparingly throughout the game.

Avoiding enemies can get exceedingly difficult when many of them are also jumping, often at the exact same speed and height as Chubbins. It can be frustrating to figure out how to get past many of these jumping enemies, but levels are full of checkpoints and you have infinite lives, which makes it slightly more palatable. Dahku eventually introduces a "veggie" system, vegetables that Chubbins can eat and subsequently change colour – for example, carrots make him turn orange, and onions make him turn white. When Chubbins is in an altered colour state, he's a portly Moses crossing the Red Sea, as he can pass through obstacles of the same colour without getting injured.

There are two difficulties to choose from ("Soft" and "Hard"), but even on the easier setting this gets very difficult very quickly. Many levels require split-second jumps with exact timing to avoid instant doom, and there's no hand-holding to tell you what you're meant to do. It's a welcome challenge for old-school gamers, but despite the cute exterior this difficulty may turn off some younger players.

Chubbins is split into five worlds of seven levels each, with silly names like "Very Fine Hat" and "Fellas, Makin' Progress!" that add to the game's charm. There's no time limit, but you're encouraged to beat your personal record; you can speed run through individual levels in Time Attack mode, but in the core game your time is recorded across each entire world – this adds a larger scale to your quest for the best score. Rather than starting the timer over each time you die, meanwhile, your time is recorded across all lives, so your penalty for death is however much time you wasted. It's a unique timing system that would be interesting to see in more popular speedrunning platformers like Sonic.

You can play Chubbins on either the TV screen or the GamePad with a quick press of the Select button to switch between the two at any time. The colourful, workaday art style chooses function over form, with geometric shapes for backgrounds and little in the way of an immersive gameworld; the art and music are pleasing, if unremarkable. The aesthetic highlight is Chubbins himself, cute and cuddly while at the same time endearingly awkward, with an egg-like body shape and long ears that flop up and down with each bounce. There are a couple of delightful enemies like the suit-wearing badger with a bowler hat and the bird donning a fez, but they get a bit repetitive as you see the same jumping badger and patrolling bird from level to level.

Chubbins may be adorable, but his voice acting will haunt your dreams. Every time he dies, Chubbins emits a desperate wail of agony; it's a jarringly depressing sound for such an otherwise upbeat game. The audio quality is muffled, which only adds to the unsettling feeling that you're killing a cute bunny; you'll be dying a lot, so prepare to hear his gloomy death rattle on a regular basis.

Conclusion

Chubbins is a deceptively difficult old-school platformer that's all about managing your angles and learning to bounce at just the right moment. If you can look past its generic art style, you'll find cunning level design that takes advantage of the jumping mechanic the game revolves around in unique ways. The frustrating difficulty means you'll be replaying some sequences over and over, so be prepared for some repetition, but as a low budget small-studio effort this is impressive.

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User Comments (24)

smikey

#1

smikey said:

My son finds something highly amusing about this game (but he is only 3)
I'll pick it up fairly soon after lauch if not on release thursday when it finally makes it to the uk

HylianJowiStaff

#2

HylianJowi said:

May I be the first to admit the art style of this game frightens me beyond words? Their eyes... so soulless.

Too bad too, because the game is fun enough.

MixMasterMudkip

#3

MixMasterMudkip said:

Maybe I'll give it a go if I ever stop playing Mario Kart 8. That's generally how my purchases work now that I'm not really interested if it doesn't bring me away from Mario Kart. I haven't even started Wind Waker HD yet because I can't get away from Mario Kart 8.

MrWalkieTalkie

#6

MrWalkieTalkie said:

Good to see they did fairly well. I feel sorta bad for the developers because they just keep getting more and more hate for just bringing a decent iOS game to Wii U. Will pick up when I get more cash. (Just spent the last of it on 1,001 Spikes)

maceng

#16

maceng said:

WOW!
That seems pretty difficult. A la Clouberry? Kingdom!!
Still, I want this, but for my 3DS.

dahkuToby

#17

dahkuToby said:

Our sincere thanks to @JakeShapiro and Nintendo Life for a positive and honest review of Chubbins! As @MrWalkieTalkie said we have been getting a lot of negativity that seems to stem from the game's iOS background, so we really appreciate you reviewing the game based on its own pros and cons without even mentioning its unfortunate origins.

@Oragami Regarding its length, for most it seems to take a few hours to beat the game on one of the two difficulty settings, and then there's the other difficulty and Time Attack for further replay value. Of course, it can vary a lot; for seasoned players a run through all worlds on a single difficulty mode can be as fast as 25 minutes.

And big thanks to anyone here planning on giving Chubbins a go- we really appreciate your support!

rockodoodle

#23

rockodoodle said:

@dahkuToby I was pretty close to buying this yesterday. I had enough to get either this or Kung Fu Rabbit but went with the latter b/c it sounded like something that was a bit more geared for the casual gamer in that you can just pick it up and play, whereas this seemed to take a little more effort, even on the easier level. I'll pick this up eventually, if for no other reason to support indie developers on the Wii U. But keep in mind- I think developers in general should have a "very easy" setting for guys like me who like to play the game, but don't want to put too much time & energy into it.

dahkuToby

#24

dahkuToby said:

@rockodoodle Thanks! Definitely the most useful feedback we've gotten from someone who hasn't played the game, and we'll certainly keep it in mind for future titles.

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