Woodle Tree Adventures – Indie Game Review

 

Games like: Super Mario 64, Sypro, Croc

TL;DR

Time played: 70 minutes

Video game mascots are one of the pinnacle inventions that brought the market back from the brink. For kids, it was a way for them to connect, to easily recognize out in the wild, and more importantly, allowed the arguments of who was better: Mario or Sonic? These conversations continued up to the fifth generation of the Playstation, Sega Saturn, and Nintendo 64. As time went on, these mascots seemed to fall back to the shadows (with the exception of Mario and terrible Sonic games), but there’s always something so charming about a main protagonist that resembles the characters on a cartoon. Chubby Pixel has braced an entry into the mascot platforming genre with Woodle Tree Adventures as a charismatic log, armed with a giant leaf, set to collect special apples and water droplets to give new life to his forest home.

The hut makes a sort of hub between worlds.

The hut makes a sort of hub between worlds.

Woodle Tree Adventures is a recreation of the popular 3D platformers like Super Mario 64, Spyro, and Croc. There are six worlds to explore (seven once you’ve collected 600 apples which means finishing the game) of all different atmospheres including wintry wonderlands, water ridden marshes, and bee infested honeycombs. Strapped with an ever growing bag, you’ll collect apples which will unlock new worlds.

Weeeeee!

Weeeeee!

The game opens up with our character Woodle standing on a floating island. This will act as your hub from world to world. Around the outside, you’ll find some podiums with giant numbers over them. Collecting will unlock new worlds and also allow you to upgrade you leaf weapon. Moving to the inside of your house, there’s two floors to enter the different worlds. You’ll have a few to start with then unlock more as complete them. Walking up to the different “balls” you’ll swipe at them to start the level. This is reminiscent of jumping into the paintings in Super Mario 64.

Because I can hit everything else, why not you?

Because I can hit everything else, why not you?

My Xbox 360 controller worked right out of the box. The left analog stick moves Woodle around, A button jumps, and holding down the X button will make him run. Which is a blessing because the walking speed is extremely slow. The jump mechanic is a bit floaty at times. You’ll be relying on your shadow spot to line yourself up on platforms. You can adjust the distance mid-jump which will help making it to different platforms. There doesn’t seem to be any uniformed jump distance between platforms so some jumps will feel fine using a full force jump while others you’ll over jump and ultimately die. With all of the issues with the camera in this game, you’d think the jumping would feel more controlled. Sadly, it doesn’t.

Collect 3 water droplets to complete the world.

Collect 3 water droplets to complete the world.

Even though in a 3D environment, the layouts of each level have a start and end point. There is a little bit of exploring that will grant you more apples to collect, but mostly if you stay on the right path, you’ll collect everything you need and make it to the end. Lots of platforms to jump on, some cool jet streams that’ll push you up into the sky, and turtles! The graphic design is remarkable. Very unique and, I mean this is a nice way, cute. It’s extremely charming to run through these lands as a happy, apple collecting piece of wood. Who would have thought?

Interesting platforming aspects. Lots of pitfalls.

Interesting platforming aspects. Lots of pitfalls.

There are enemies that scatter the level but they are more or less just there for looks. Some enemies just walk back and forth, others up and down, some don’t do anything and are just there seemingly to deter you from moving one direction or another. The ones you can kill just take a simple swap of your leaf and they fade away into nothingness. Others can’t be killed at all, only avoided. There never seems to be any threat to force you from one point to another. There’s no time limit and you don’t have a hit meter. If you fall off the world, you’ll just respawn either at the closest checkpoint or at the beginning of the stage. Seems more of a romp through an interesting, yet repetitive, landscape than a 3D adventure game. There isn’t even a counter as to how many apples you’ve collected or how many still exist in the world. Lots of missing things here, especially for a game that claims to be complete.

Zooming out, the worlds are very beautiful to look at.

Zooming out, the worlds are very beautiful to look at.

The leaf being your weapon is a nice touch. Going up to different enemies and smacking them down makes sense since you’re a log and all. And the upgrades are welcoming even if I completely forgot about them until I had finished the game. You use your weapon so sparingly, that any upgrade seems to go unnoticed. Would have liked to see how it would have worked in a boss battle or with more difficult enemies.

This is me in a shell house. I don't know what's going on.

This is me in a shell house. I don’t know what’s going on.

Even with all of the monsters that litter the worlds, you’re biggest enemy is the camera control. You can move the camera in and out using the right analog stick. In and out. No left to right or in a 360 degree rotation. Just in and out. Granted, zooming the camera all the way out to see the entire level in a single screen is impressive in itself, but more often than not you’ll be missing platforms or falling off the edge because the camera is jacked. This was the most challenging issue I had with Woodle Tree Adventures. The camera is so poorly designed, that it creates an obstacle that you can’t just over come. This problem makes this game even unplayable at times. And the camera seems to have a mind of its own. Starting the level, the camera is typically positioned to the side allowing you to walk left to right. Suddenly, the camera will change perspective behind for no reason which usually ended with my death. Never thought that a camera angle could be so cruel. Brutal, brutal stuff.

Leaf upgrades went unnoticed as your primary weapon.

Leaf upgrades went unnoticed as your primary weapon.

It’s tough for me while playing this kind of game. I love 3D platformers like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Spyro. Even the bad ones like Gex and Blasto have a warm place in my heart. And I’m excited to see the indie community take a swing at things, but Woodle Tree Adventures misses on the bare mechanics needed. The poor camera work, the missing difficulty, and boring level design makes me cry out for the originals. I only played this game for 70 minutes. Reason being, I completed the game in 70 minutes. After finishing the game, I felt no reason to start level seven. Even when I tried, it crashed. Is this a demo? Because it plays like a demo. It does feel like a classic platformer from the days of old, but there’s too many missing elements that will take you out of the game and on to another.

I did all of this for you... and you still don't look happy.

I did all of this for you… and you still don’t look happy.

Woodle Tree Adventures is a 3D platformer introducing a cute, log tasked to collect apples and giant water droplets to replenish a dying forest. Traveling through six different worlds, you’ll jump, climb, and explore the worlds to open more. Sadly, the poor camera control, passive enemies, and lack of risk to reward, Woodle Tree Adventures takes a charming idea in character and world, but falls to the wayside with missing elements, poor camera, and a shameful combat system.

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