Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pauli's Adventure Island (iOS, Android) Review

So many games, so little time. Isn't that always the way it is? Well, it definitely is when you review games like I do! Especially when you have deadlines! But enough about my struggles here, we're talking about a recent iOS and Android 2D platformer, Pauli's Adventure Island. Let's check it out and hopefully jump for joy!

There's something about Pauli

With a ridiculous amount of mobile games launching on the App Store and the Google Play storefront each and every week, games get lost in the shuffle, and many are easy to ignore. There is just no time to play all of them, only to find out that you've wasted your time downloading it. I do have a soft spot, however, for a competent 2D platformer. The best in the genre are some of my favorite games of all time, and I just love the platformer, 2D or 3D, regardless. Upon reading about Pauli's Adventure Island, I wasn't too impressed by what I saw. However, when watching the gameplay trailer, the game seemed like a well made game worth looking into. It actually was, though several aspects stop Pauli's Adventure Island from being special.

Good luck will come to those players who gather all of the clovers in the game.
(Well, at least in the form of an achievement!)
One of the main reasons for this is that Pauli's Adventure Island certainly takes a lot of inspiration from the Super Mario Bros. series, most notably the recent New Super Mario Bros. titles. Everything from collecting three Star Coin-like clovers in each level to obstacles and ideas taken directly from the games. I'm talking platforms that you bounce off of while avoiding enemies who do the same (similar to mushroom platforms in New Super Mario Bros. 2) , square and rectangular platforms that rotate around one another with some posing the risk of crushing your cute, wittle wabbit, platforms that follow along a set track complete with Fuzzy-like enemies to avoid, familiar underground and castle-themed stages that occur around the same time in a world as they would in a Super Mario Bros. game, and more. That said, if you're going to take inspiration from a platforming series, why not take from the best?

During many levels, I would ask myself, "Haven't I seen this somewhere before?"
What the developer behind Pauli's Adventure Island was also influenced by the Super Mario Bros. series, and this is a very good thing, is the tight and satisfying controls. In Mario games, Mario, Luigi, and whoever else joins his running and jumping cause, control well with no delay between the player's button inputs and the action the character does. This is most impressive in Pauli's Adventure Island because not only did the developer nail the feel of control of the stars of the game, but they managed to do it on a mobile device using a touch screen as the only source of input.

During many games, I'd worry about my thumbs covering up the screen over something important, or worse off, covering my view of what I was doing. This is not the case with Pauli's Adventure Island. The directional buttons one can press on the lower left hand corner of the screen and the A and B inputs on the lower right hand corner are easy to reach and do not get your thumbs in the way. The simple to learn inputs like running, jumping, rolling, and hovering in the air in certain wind tunnel sections in the game all control and play out smoothly. Incredibly commendable.

The level design won't blow anyone's mind or anything, but it's competent to say the least. Some of the clovers hidden in levels are smartly placed, and a bit of the platforming can be a bit tricky. There are four worlds of eight levels each, with the final level in each world consisting of a basic boss battle. For each level you can do the optional task of collecting all three clovers as well as beating the level under a specific target time. Most levels you can do this all in one run, but some later ones are challenging to do so. Regardless, you need not complete both tasks in one run anyway.

Time to take you out, Not-Koopa-Troopa enemy!
The 32 levels on offer, however, don't last long. In fact, the entirety of Pauli's Adventure Island is easily completed in under two hours at max. This stings less because the game is free, only offering a one-time purchase if you absolutely cannot stand occasional ads after every two levels, but something more substantial for replay value would be preferred. I'm talking about things like a harder mode with different and more challenging enemy placements, a requirement to beat the game as both of the two rabbit characters to earn an achievement, and things like that. As it stands, your mileage with Pauli will hardly last the duration of John Claude Van Daam's Sudden Death. Yes, it's a strange movie to choose, but it's a guilty pleasure!

There is a nice crisp and clean look to Pauli's Adventure Island,
but otherwise nothing too notable about the presentation.
Presentation-wise, Pauli's Adventure Island has a freemium appearance to it, perhaps even an internet browser game. The character animations are basic and while the backgrounds have a good amount of charm to them, they are also a bit modest in impact. The music features some hum-able tunes, but nothing that I can personally remember after playing the game. Nonetheless, while the presentation of Pauli's Adventure Island doesn't really have much "wow" factor, it's all pleasant overall.

Pauli's Adventure Island is a serviceable platformer which I wish would have received more time in the proverbial oven, perhaps to add more worlds and interesting obstacles. Everything presently is very safe and doesn't stray too far from 2D platformers like Super Mario Bros. The foundations for a great game are here, and if a sequel were to materialize from the developer, my interest would certainly be there to try it out. I just found myself enjoying my two hour play session with Pauli, and just saying, "that's it?" when my adventure was speedily over without much fanfare or buildup. Still, a fun game is a fun game, and Pauli's Adventure Island was just that. It's worth a play for 2D platformer maniacs like myself, but don't expect anything too amazing from it.

[SPC Says: C]

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