The Wii U's library is bursting with quirky, innovative, fun games. Crab Cakes Rescue is not one of them.
From the moment you start up Crab Cakes Rescue, its lack of polish is readily apparent. For starters, it runs in a 4:3 aspect ratio, leaving unsightly black bars on either side of the screen. The title is lifted directly from the original iOS version — it's adorned with a single, touchscreen-friendly button that says "PLAY!" The problem? Crab Cakes Rescue doesn't support the Wii U's GamePad in any way, and as the controls are slow the respond hitting the plus button to start doesn't yield an immediate response, which may confuse some.
Immediately after starting the game you'll be greeted with a loading screen. Unfortunately, loading screens are both long and frequent in Crab Cakes Rescue. The game throws a loading screen both before and after each level. It's a minor gripe, but one that can get annoying over time.
Once you've started playing, things don't get much better. Crab Cakes Rescue's visuals are poorly animated and lack polish. In addition it begins with three tutorial levels that don't exactly do the best job of explaining how things work.
During the tutorial you're taught how to use power ups. These include shrinking and growing, as well as the ability to become invincible. What isn't explained is that these power ups come at a cost. To purchase a power up you'll have to deal with Crab Cakes Rescue's frustrating menu system. Pushing the plus button to pause the game very slowly brings up a menu with a list of power ups available for purchase. What happens after this is anybody's guess. Menus provide seemingly no visual or audio feedback to indicate a selection has been made, making it difficult to discern which power up, if any, you've selected and spent your coins on.
Once you've selected the right power up for the level at hand, navigating them is perhaps a tad too straight-forward. Sometimes you'll need to die, which leaves behind a 'shell', which looks like a box with eyes on it. Hopping on these shells to bypass hazards like electrocuted floor tiles is paramount to getting to the door at the end of each level. It's an idea similar to that seen in Life Goes On, a Steam puzzle game released in 2014, which executed the idea with greater finesse. Crab Cakes Rescue's puzzles, though, often require little thought, as the objectives are overly obvious. Most levels consist of a few traps that will require two or three deaths to leave strategically-placed boxes, as well as a few simple platforming challenges.
Unfortunately, Crab Cakes Rescue's platforming challenges' difficulty mostly stems from the game's stiff controls. Jumping feels strange and mid-air movement is often very easy to overshoot, as even the lightest touch on the analogue stick sends your crab flying at high speeds; it's something you can get used to, but it never feels correct. The objective of each level is to obtain a key which opens the exit; once you have the key in hand, you just need to make your way to the door and walk out. If you want to be able to afford the necessary power ups to clear a later stage, however, you'll need to collect coins, which are a bit trickier to reach than the key itself in many instances.
The game can be completed in an hour or two, provided you can platform your way through the game's 100 puzzles plus quickly. The narrative tied to Crab Cakes Rescue is the tried and true hero-saves-damsel plot used for so many great games of days gone by. Sadly, Crab Cakes Rescue is not destined to be remembered among their ranks.
Crab Cakes Rescue is a bad port of an uninteresting game. Its stiff controls, sloppy menus and confusing power up system leave the game feeling like a beta more than a finished product. Forgettable music, poor animation and a lack of replay value combine to make this one of the worst games available on Wii U. Stay away. Far away.