Saturday, July 25, 2015

Canvaleon (Wii U eShop) Review

Welcome to the weekend at SuperPhillip Central! It's time for a new review for a Wii U eShop game that released this past Thursday for a good number of Wii U owners, Canvaleon. Is this stealth platformer a good one, or is it something I'd rather stick my long, thin tongue out at?

Color Me Frustrated

The Wii U eShop might not be the most bustling marketplace for a home console. However, the quality and variety of many of the games are quite amazing. While there are definitely games to stay away from like any marketplace, there are some bright shiny gems in the Wii U's digital library. Canvaleon is a 2D platformer, which admittedly the Wii U has enough of, but it's one that tries something different, using a wide array of camouflages to blend the protagonist into the background, narrowly avoiding the advance of enemies. Is the mechanic executed brilliantly, or does Canvaleon "blend in" too much with the other less than desirable Wii U eShop games?

Canvaleon starts out with an adorable hand drawn scene that tells the story of a newborn chameleon who is ousted by his family and fellow villagers due to lacking the ability to change colors like any ordinary part of his species. Rejected, the chameleon grows up and meets an artist named Doodle has the ability to paint the pure white chameleon with his special paintbrush. Thus, Doodle gives the chameleon a name, Canvas!

This is where the main gameplay mechanic of Canvaleon comes in. Levels don't require you to speed through them as if you were playing Super Mario Bros. or something like that. Well, you CAN take levels that way, but you'll very much find yourself dying constantly. No, Canvaleon is more of a cerebral 2D platformer that requires stealth, patience, and strategy.

I quickly found out that simply trying to rush
through levels like my tail was on fire was a bad plan.
It just takes one hit to have to redo a stage, and because there are no checkpoints to be found (unfortunately-- having checkpoints would make Canvaleon more enjoyable and less frustrating to play), it makes it so you have to play smart. Levels are also fairly long, so one death near the end means you have to restart the whole blasted thing.

Our hero chameleon is a literal blank Canvas. Through collecting multicolored butterflies throughout stages, you can buy and create different camouflages for Canvas to equip. You can have up to four different camouflage patterns equipped at once, having you cycle through them with the shoulder buttons. Buying pre-made camouflages seems pretty useless, as they rarely seem applicable to the levels in the game. Thus, the option to create your own camouflage is highly important.

Depending on the enemy, your camouflage may
work better or worse.
Unfortunately, the game doesn't really explain well what goes into making a proper camouflage that will actually work. Furthermore, you pretty much have to remember the level's backgrounds to make the right colored camouflage, so if the level has a brick pattern, you best do your darndest to draw a pattern that is close to it from memory. Then there's the issue of not having enough butterflies to create said camo. You better not mind having to replay levels over and over to get the required amount of butterflies for the type of camouflage you desire.

Levels also suffer from the inability to fully gauge what is an actual platform and what isn't. Many times I'd leap to something that looked like a solid platform, only to discover it was just background scenery that couldn't be interacted with. Not the best if you're discovered by the enemy and have to make a mad dash to get to a safe platform away from the dangerous foe.

Thankfully, if one level is giving your problems, the world map of Canvaleon allows you to go to a different one to try out. There are a myriad of levels in the game taking place in various different locales requiring various different camouflages. There are forests, mountains, deserts, cities, and so many more interesting areas to explore.

Hmm. Something tells me this enemy is aware of my location.
They are so interesting because of how well the art design holds up. Canvaleon is a beautifully devised game artistically, offering detailed backgrounds and environments, nice enemy design, and nice visual effects. The music is pretty much background noise, but it's by no means grating, unlike the sound that plays when an enemy has been alerted of your presence.

Even still with its many issues, Canvaleon is by no means an awful game. It's just definitely one that requires patience and a bit of stubbornness to complete. Some better explanation towards designing your own camouflages would have been greatly appreciated, and a checkpoint or two in the longer levels would make for a far less frustrating and "nope. I'm done" moments. Still, if you have the resolve and perseverance to take on the challenge that Canvaleon holds, then by all means, check this innovative title out.

[SPC Says: C-]

Review copy provided by OXiAB Game Studio.

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