(Wii U eShop)

Percy's Predicament (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Percy's Predicament Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Dave Letcavage

Keep rollin' rollin' rollin' rollin'

Games like Marble Madness and the Super Monkey Ball series have had their share of devoted followers throughout the years, but they exist in a genre that isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with new entries. To those unfamiliar, these are games where the player controls a ball through a series of narrow pathways and obstacles, while trying their hardest not to topple into the abyss below. Percy’s Predicament is that type of affair, though it actually shares more similarities with one of Xbox 360’s first downloadable titles, Marble Blast Ultra, than those aforementioned titles.

You play as an adorable little penguin named Percy. Well, at least Percy appears adorable in the hand-drawn image presented on the main menu — his polygonal likeness is whole different case. There’s a story here to kick things off, delivered in about three sentences of text, and it’s as unnecessary as you may imagine. To summarize, Percy has been captured inside of an orb and must collect many, many clownfish to escape — that’s it. So with the agenda clearly laid out for you it’s time to roll forth and get fishy.

Each level is about surviving from the start to the finish while gobbling up fish and beating the clock. If you collide with a harmful object or fall from the platforms, it's back to the beginning of the stage. Once you've collected the number of fish indicated on the screen, it's time to find the portal and move onto the next challenge. Along the way power-ups will be encountered, each granting you with a single-use ability: a high jump, a blast to propel Percy forward at great speed, etc. It’s all pretty simple to understand.

The left analogue stick is for moving Percy around in his ball, while the right stick adjusts the camera, which can also affect your speed of movement depending on the angle. The ZL and ZR buttons (or B and A, your choice) are used for a standard jump and deploying power-ups, respectively. It’s easy to pick up and play, it’s just too bad another coat of spit and polish wasn’t applied to the controls, as meeting the demand of the trials ahead can be icy.

What it comes down to is that movement sensitivity feels too high, and there’s no option to alter it to your liking. Just wait until you’re trying to navigate narrow pathways and the slightest, almost non-existent deviation from pushing the joystick precisely forward sends Percy careening to his doom. If you swing the camera to an overhead view, the swiftness of movements will be drastically reduced, allowing much better control – but manipulating your view in this fashion during tight platforming leads to its own set of complications. This is by-no-means a broken control scheme, it's just a frustrating one that's often the cause of many heart-crushing deaths.

The level design can be interesting at times, although it should be noted that it can also be equally repetitious. Not only may a feeling of déjà vu frequently set in, but you’ll often swear that you’re playing a level you’ve already encountered. That’s because, on occasion, entire sections of previous levels have been reused and mixed into the layout of new ones. This isn’t so frequent that it drains too much enjoyment, but it is noticeable and feels lazy.

What really accentuates the gameplay flaws further is the overall poor presentation, even for a low-budget title. None of the artwork outside of the actual gameplay shares any real resemblance to what the game actually looks like. It’s all hand-drawn and of extremely low resolutions, yet expanded to fill an entire big-screen TV — just wait until you encounter the hideous level-introduction screens. These still images don’t mesh with anything before it, nor do they feel properly reflective of the world you’re exploring. To say these feel like placeholder images that were accidentally left in the final version of the game would be an understatement.

The actual 3D, polygonal game worlds aren’t much better either. Painfully low-resolution textures not seen since the days of the Nintendo 64, accompanied by chunky polygons and jagged edges, make Percy’s Predicament pretty painful on the eyes. Although they aren’t commonplace, there are also drops in framerate that can be jarring. From time to time we even encountered a bug or odd glitch that would allow us to exist in out-of-bounds areas of the environment from where we ended up stuck, and had to manually restart the level or travel around until we found water to drop into — which resets Percy to the level start.

Even with all of those criticisms we’d be remiss if we didn’t admit to having a deal of fun with Percy on occasion. If you have patience with the controls there comes a point when you can dull the annoyances. That won’t stop you from struggling to cope with the swift movements, but you should be better able to avoid disaster. Sticking with and finally completing a particularly troublesome stage will instil a great feeling of accomplishment, and it's a nice one. There are a solid amount of levels here for the price — around 80 — and the developer is even promising an additional 170 for free at some point after launch, so value isn’t so much a concern as is quality.

Conclusion

In the end, Percy’s Predicament feels like an unfinished build of a game that could’ve released for PC back in the late 90’s. Its appearance is dated and unpleasant on the eyes, the controls don’t feel as tuned as they should be, and the overall production is just rough. With that said, there is still a degree of enjoyment to be found here, but you would have to come to terms with and find your way around the many shortcomings. Fans of this underpopulated genre should stick to the classics, as this is one predicament you likely won't want to find yourself submerged in.

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Game Trailer

User Comments (28)

unrandomsam

#1

unrandomsam said:

I like Super Monkey Ball 2 on the Gamecube (Don't have the first one). Don't think much to the 3DS entry or the Mobile port of the Gamecube one.

Marble Madness doesn't work right without a trackball at least any version I have tried.

Warbeard

#2

Warbeard said:

Seems like something I could make - which makes me a bit sad for the review score :D

NImH

#5

NImH said:

Dang. With 3rd parties abandoning, we don't need any shovelware in our WiiU wilderness. We need some epic indie deliveries.

JustinH

#6

JustinH said:

It's really too bad that this game looks so unbelievably awful. This and Flavoured Cats need an artist, STAT.

Captain_Toad

#9

Captain_Toad said:

Even with n64-ish graphics, threre's no excuse to have your game be as almost barren.
Depressing.

Emblem

#11

Emblem said:

i hope the indie games on the horizon are better i'd hate for the eshop to start filling up with games of this caliber.

Frapp

#12

Frapp said:

I'd pay silly money for an HD remake of Super Monkey Ball 1 & 2 on Wii U. Even for just the first game on its own – one of THE greatest games.

MrWalkieTalkie

#15

MrWalkieTalkie said:

Knew it from the start this game would be terrible. What creeps me out most is how the artwork keeps showing Percy as some cute, happy, cartoon penguin, but in the game it's just some weird emotionless black oval with 2 red eyes and what appears to be baseballs for feet.

sinalefa

#16

sinalefa said:

Now, about this game, I would not mind the graphics so much if it was a bit cheaper. I don't think I will bite for six bucks.

Gladius_X

#17

Gladius_X said:

You just know it's bad when it says "challenging obstacles" in the trailer... The potential is definitely there though, shame it's so badly done.

WiiLovePeace

#18

WiiLovePeace said:

Aw... But I think it looks fun... Sure it's simple but I still wanna play it... I really hope it comes to the Australian or UK eShop one day... It's cheap & looks like fun to me...

KeeperBvK

#19

KeeperBvK said:

I know I'm probably the absolute minority on this, but I have to say I love these kinds of early PSX / Saturn / N64 3D graphics. Not just here, but in general.

DRLAdmin

#20

DRL said:

No one called me out for quoting the poetic genius that is Fred Durst? Shame on you guys. :p

Csaw

#21

Csaw said:

Well that's depressing. I was looking forward to some of maestro interactive's other games they had announced but if they can't pull this game off I have little hope for their other games. Here's hoping they prove me wrong.

Dogeymon

#23

Dogeymon said:

Percy might be adorable......if we could see him! He's a microscopic blob of pixels in a bubble. The presentation is too cheapo.

GrimSh

#24

GrimSh said:

No offense to the people who produced this game, but this looks like my first game project that I've created when I was learning Unity. I've not had any firsthand experience with the game, but the video makes me wonder if any of the staff involved had any degree of training in Art or Design whatsoever.

vasteel12000

#25

vasteel12000 said:

I support all Indie development, downloaded this and sent a little bit of feedback to the devlopers via Facebook. CONTROL CONTROL CONTROL..too sensitive for precise movement, if they could fix that issue then it would be playable and somewhat fun even with generic graphics, right now its almost unplayable and makes me wanna chuck my gamepad at the screen...

GamecubeComplex

#28

GamecubeComplex said:

Sega's next project should be....
Super Monkey Ball Adventure HD!
I liked that game, even if I couldn't get past the first world-thing.

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