Clive 'N' Wrench Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

There is little argument that Switch has become one of the premier consoles for 3D platformers. From a host of classics from the 'Golden Age', such as Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64, to incredible brand new experiences, like Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and brilliant indies such as Lunistice, there is a 3D platformer out there for everyone. With the extremely high bar on Switch already set, it is only natural to be interested in how new faces in the genre compare. Enter Clive ‘N’ Wrench, an indie title that has been in development for well over a decade. Despite the initially promising reveal, it pains us to say that the final release is a disappointing, broken mess that you should stay away from on Switch.

The story of Clive ‘N’ Wrench begins with Professor Nancy, a genius scientist who has built a time travel machine out of a refrigerator from the 1950s. After her blueprints were stolen by the nefarious Dr. Daucus, Nancy tasks the titular protagonists to travel through time to retrieve her blueprints from the evil doctor. The plot is a simple excuse to travel across various time-themed worlds, but serves well for the type of game this is. It is, however, the execution where the major problems with Clive ‘N’ Wrench begin to show.

Clive 'N' Wrench Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

There is no sugarcoating the fact that Clive ‘N’ Wrench’s visuals are not up to standard, at least on Switch. Cutscenes are an ugly mess, with stiff animation, no dialogue, and terrible pacing that make them tough to look at. Thankfully, during actual gameplay, visuals do improve slightly. Most character models look like possibly intentional homages to the 64-bit era, and appear passable from a distance. However, the world, random objects, and overall texturing clearly received far less attention, and these lacking aspects often clash with the character models.

The game suffers from regular and long loading screens. There will often be a lengthy wait for a short ten-second cutscene, which then leads to another loading screen to get back into the game. Once you're in the game, it's more bad news, with constant frame dips and plenty of input lag as a result. It is very jarring going from a smooth frame rate in some areas to a stuttering mess in others. However, with all of the other issues here, the frame rate felt like the least of its problems. Combined, it creates the impression that this game, incredibly, needed even more time in the oven.

Clive 'N' Wrench Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Gameplay, unfortunately, does not fare much better than the presentation. At its core, Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a collectathon 3D platformer. There are 11 worlds for you to explore, each with a unique concept behind them. Instead of your standard platforming stage themes, you will instead be exploring swampy casinos and the prehistoric ice age. Plus, as a nice bonus, there are plenty of charming references to other indie platformers, like A Hat In Time and Yooka-Laylee. Once again, in terms of concept, these worlds are incredibly creative but are lacking in execution.

A perfect example of this is the level 'Bunny, I Shrunk The Chimp', where Clive and Wrench are shrunk down and tasked with exploring various rooms in a giant house. Despite the great idea, the world is filled with questionable level design that focuses too much on realism over fluidity. For instance, at one point the game asks you to platform across bookshelves to access a switch on the other side of the room. However, because the shelves are placed so far apart, you are expected to make very tight and punishing jumps across them, with no floating platforms or 'safety nets' to break the level's domestic theming. A homage to unforgiving platforming challenges of old? Possibly, but we're not convinced.

Clive 'N' Wrench Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Another frustrating aspect of the level design comes from each world's size. Stages are generally too big for their own good, and more often than not, are so large that they have to be split up across two or three isolated areas separated by black screens. In the house level, for example, this means exploring a kitchen, living room, and bathroom, but to access each room you have to navigate through air vents. This destroys any sense of flow within the world, and makes it much more of a chore to track down all of the game's many collectibles.

While at first glance it may seem that the game pulls heavily from Banjo-Kazooie thanks to how Clive the rabbit carries his monkey pal Wrench around in his backpack, in reality, Clive ‘N’ Wrench plays much closer to the Spyro series. Each of the game’s worlds features ten ancient stones to collect, alongside hundreds of stopwatches for you to find. The ancient stones are your main collectible, each with a cutesy name that is supposed to act as a hint as to where they are hiding. Despite that, the hints are frustratingly vague, and more often than not, you will simply stumble across them, rather than successfully seek them out. There is a distinct lack of any meaningful quests or tasks or fun gameplay challenges in order to earn the stones. As for the stopwatches, there are 400 scattered across each world but because of the segmented level design, it is incredibly difficult to keep track of what you collected and where. Trying to find them all can be more infuriating than enjoyable. It all feels so arbitrary in a way the best collectathons manage to avoid through clever design, endearing characters, or sheer charm.

Clive 'N' Wrench Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

With the core gameplay loop and world design having their issues, one would hope that the controls were at least passable. That is unfortunately not the case. Clive and Wrench feel like they are pulled from a very rough prototype of Rayman 2, although instead of having a natural weight and jump arc, everything feels floaty and imprecise. The duo has a super jump that launches them far too high relative to the level design, a pitiful melee attack that will usually result in damage from an enemy, and they always feel like they are sliding around on ice. The lack of any invincibility frames after getting hit means you can sometimes lose your entire health bar to an enemy that traps you in a corner. The swimming controls, in particular, are infuriating, with separate buttons for swimming up and down, overly sensitive turning, and an air meter that drains far too quickly. There is no getting around it, the controls are just plain bad and could benefit from some significant tweaking.

Audio-wise, the music is inoffensive but unremarkable. The tracks here are appropriately themed and aren't necessarily bad, just forgettable, with a distinctly royalty-free feel. As for the sound effects, there are so few of them in the game that it's actually a little jarring. Those that are there sound as generic as the music.

And the problems don’t end there. The boss fights are easily some of the worst in any 3D platformer we've played. The first boss, for example, has you navigating a circular, icy platform surrounded by five ropes. You need to coax the boss to throw scissors at each rope to drop an anchor on his head, then repeat the process three times to win. It sounds like a winning scenario, but because of the awful controls, the absurd lack of health drops, and terrible hit detection, this boss fight took nearly an hour to complete. And despite how the game first presents itself, you cannot go to any level of your choosing until you've defeated a boss, meaning there is no way to skip these encounters.


Clive ‘N’ Wrench is not a good game, there is no way around that. When the Switch is home to some of the greatest 3D platformers ever made, Clive ‘N’ Wrench stands out for all the wrong reasons. From terrible controls to poor visuals and performance, there is very little redeemable about the game on Switch. The entire project feels like a glorified demo made for a game design class, rather than a completed project that belongs on store shelves. The attempt is admirable, but after a decade's worth of development, Clive ‘N’ Wrench turned out as an incredible disappointment. With so many other ways to get your 3D collectathon platforming fix on Switch, your time and money are best spent elsewhere.