Chubbins Review – Gameplay Is King

When I first heard of Chubbins, and that it was an indie game originally developed on iOS, I was NOT excited. I’m not a mobile gamer, and I’m almost positive I never will be. This isn’t to be mixed up with handheld gaming (I love my 3DS), but games specific to the App Store or Google Play. All this to say that as soon as I booted up Chubbins, I already had a preconceived notion to how the game would play. However, I have to admit that Dahku Creations, the creators behind Chubbins, changed my perspective pretty quickly.

Visuals – 5/10
Chubbins runs at 60 FPS, in 1080p. Now, I don’t have the technology, nor the passion, to check the technical specs as I play, but I will say that it appears to hold true to that statement. However, the first thing you might notice is that the game doesn’t look all that great, as far as actual design goes; it’s very clear this was previously a mobile game. I commend that Dahku didn’t settle with 8 bit graphics, which seems to be a norm with many indie games, but a few more animations could’ve helped. When Chubbins bounces, his ear flop up and down accordingly, but it doesn’t look finished. When an enemy bird is flying around on screen, it doesn’t look quite right. A few more animations could’ve added quite a bit to the game. In addition, the backgrounds are fairly bland, though some of the designs later on in the game actually affected my gameplay and added to the difficulty – I say this as a positive attribute.

Chubbins isn’t a complicated game, especially when it comes to the way it looks and the character designs. There’s a rabbit (Chubbins), a bird, a badger, and some spike balls. Add in some backgrounds and that about sums up the game. If you already played the iOS version, there isn’t much difference here, which includes the graphical quality.

Audio – 5.75/10
Much like the visuals, audio seems a little uninspired. There is one song per world, and a song for each boss battle at the end of said worlds. That’s it as far as actual game music goes. The audio is about the same: there are only a few grunts/noises that Chubbins makes, and none of the regular enemies make any sounds whatsoever.

However, there are some catchy tunes to be found within the game, and the music is more fitting towards the later worlds (along with the backgrounds). There’s nothing fancy here, but it is passable.

Gameplay – 8.75/10
THIS is where Chubbins shines. When I read the description of the game, that it is a “precision platformer,” I wasn’t too sure what that meant. After 10 minutes of playing, I quickly discovered why. I began dying constantly, barely missing a jump and falling to my doom, or timing a jump incorrectly and being stabbed by a spike ball. Precision truly is the name of the game here.

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Chubbins was previously an iOS game. I can see those types of gamers not appreciating the platforming in this game, as it is very hard and requires genuine skill; generally (big focus on that word), mobile gamers are usually gamers who play casually and don’t consider gaming a “big deal.” I also can’t imagine how that game would’ve been played effectively on a phone or tablet. This isn’t simply a game you can pick up for five minutes, then put down. It pushes your skills and your patience, and forces you to get better. The gameplay mechanics are simple: navigate Chubbins to bounce his way to the end of the level, avoiding enemies and pitfalls on the way.

The design of each level is where the complications begin (in a good way): each level gets progressively harder and showcases a different theme, which is usually hinted at in the name of the level. Some levels focus on jumps timed perfectly, some focus on getting around obstacles or enemies, while still others focus on exploration and discovery in order to finish. The game is hard, and that’s a very good thing. And speaking of hard, every world can be played in either “Soft” or “Hard” mode, each reflecting the type of difficulty desired. I actually recommend playing the game on “Soft” mode first to get warmed up, then hit up “Hard” mode – which adds spike balls and extra baddies. Time Trial is the third mode that can be played, and it’s just that: you’re timed across each level within a world. These 3 different modes had me playing for a few hours until I finished the game, with re-playability residing within beating previous times.

As good as the gameplay is, however, there were still some quirks. For starters, there are no save states within each world. Sure, your progress saves after you beat a world, but when you go to beat a world, you’ve got to do it in one sitting. Now, you can die as many times as you like within each world, but in order to complete that world the player has to finish each level all at once. I found this to be a drawback, as the later worlds began drifting into the 20 minute range of playing time.

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Something else that I found omitted (oddly enough) was the ability to go back to the menu once you chose which world you were going to play. For instance, I had just beaten World 1 on Soft and had just selected to play World 2. After I had selected World 2, I realized I actually wanted to play World 1 again, but on Hard mode. I couldn’t go back to the menu. I had to start the world, quit it, then go back to the menu and select World 1. A minor inconvenience, yes, but an inconvenience nonetheless.

Other than these minor faults, Chubbins has excellent gameplay that can be experienced on the TV or the GamePad – though the GamePad isn’t utilized much.

Entertainment Factor – 8/10
I had fun with Chubbins, and really enjoyed the gameplay. You will find no story or online modes here, and you won’t really even become attached to the main protagonist (which is a shame, because I wanted to love a protagonist named Chubbins), but what you do find is raw, unadulterated, difficult platforming that will surprise you. I was entertained throughout my entire experience, and the great platforming helped to distract me from the faults the game has. At the end of the day, Chubbins entertained me enough to keep playing, and more importantly, keep dying…and dying…and dying…

So, is Chubbins worth buying? I say yes, though I think it might do well with a little drop in price – maybe $4.99, or $4.49. The key feature of this game is exactly what makes it worth your hard earned money – the raw gameplay and decent level designs. I had a blast trying to best my previous times, and Hard mode is…well, pretty darn hard, and not in the cheap way, either. Be sure to check out Chubbins, bouncing onto the Wii U eShop on June 5th

Overall – 6.75/10

 

~Mike

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