Ah, home spooky home, where a warm Shug awaits…
The Adventures Of Shuggy was developed by Smudged Cat Games, published by Valcon Games and is available on XBLA for 800MP.
Hiding behind what at first glance might seem an undemanding 2D puzzle platformer for a young audience is actually a devilishly challenging and innovative brainteasing adventure that will leave grown men and women howling at the moon in despair and flapping your arms with delight in equal measure.
Blue marble-eyed Shuggy, a plump purple vampire moves into his newly inherited castle only to find that a whole host of nasties are wreaking havoc in over 100 rooms. Lulling you into a false sense of smug security, the first couple of rooms are relatively easy to complete, but beware as there are hardcore difficulties to come. The premise is simple. In order to rid his new abode of the pesky goblins, ghosts, zombies and evil mosquitoes, Shuggy has to jump around the rooms, collecting green gems in exchange for keys. Completing rooms unlock more rooms whilst keys open up other areas of the house which include the Dungeon, Boiler room, Clocktower, Gallery and Graveyard where of course the level bosses are hidden. Defeating them in order to restore harmony to Shuggy’s home is easier said than done as the game demands you not only jump with pin point precision and expert timing, but that you are also alert at all times to various hazards including the perilous physics of rope swinging across spikes and the yo-yo dieting affect of getting fat on cake then trying to squeeze into small spaces, or glugging unnamed slimming potions meaning that high platform with your final gem winking at you is just out of reach.
Each puzzle requires a different type of cunning, so complacency never sets in. Some involve moving your little vampire legs as fast as they can go around a course whilst an evil spiky ball zooms after you, others need meticulous planning and patience as you to and fro around an elaborate maze, just waiting for the right time to move as your way is blocked by hanging spiders and of course the classic moving wooden platform over a lava pit (obviously treated with flame retardant spray by the previous castle’s owner). There are some super simple but brilliantly executed ideas here to help you lose your cool and tense up. In timed rounds, thinking ahead is the key as often you have to find a button which removes a barrier for as long as you’re stood on it. Easy when a new Shuggy appears every sixty seconds in your original starting position and sets off on the course you’ve taken so the buttons gets pressed along the route. Though you leave a purple line indicating the route you took (and therefore the route the following Shuggy’s will take), avoiding bumping into your old self becomes perilous and means immediate death. The rooms are purposely designed to make it crazily tricky to manoeuvre so there is real timing and skill combined with brain power needed to succeed.
Looking like the less hospitable parts of Mickey Mouse’s Castle of Illusion with a score and jumping style to match Bubble Bobble, there are plenty of familiar nods here to other castle bound puzzle games. But don’t be fooled by it’s cute look, Shuggy is sometimes really difficult. It’s refreshing that the rooms are opened up two at a time and are so diverse that if you get stuck on one, you can try out another, but you’re sure to find out quickly that Shuggy is genuinely taxing, testing your problem solving skills, logic and forward thinking as well as dexterity all at the same time. With over 100 rooms to get through, Shuggy is one you’re going to have to keep coming back to as there’s no way you could complete a sizable chunk in one go. Many puzzles only reveal their solution once you’ve died a couple of times and even then, doing what’s needed is hard work but it’s very satisfying when the magical key at the end pops up – cue much whooping.
As a break from the single player campaign there’s also some excellent local co-op rooms to tackle that can only be completed through team work – hitting switches to open doors on your partners side of the room kind of thing or there’s online multiplayer where you have to get the most gems from the room in order to win, although with powerups that rotate the room it’s again easier said than done.
In a market place swamped with puzzle games and a retro back catalogue of 2D adventure puzzle delights, Shuggy is worth checking out as it is demanding yet definitely addictive and has a range of ideas and influences that work together brilliantly. Great value for money for those wanting a challenge, it’s ghoulishly good fun.