Mediocre combat limits this otherwise fun and polished indie action-platformer.
Part old-school side-scroller another part nifty beat-em-up, Neko Entertainment and Upper Byte’s Wii U title “Wooden Sen’Sey” is a tribute to “Castlevania” and “Ninja Gaiden,” with an art style that can only be described as part “South Park,” part “Little Big Planet.”
If that’s not video game sexy, well then you just woke up from a 20-year “Q-Bert” inspired hibernation.
But take away the quirky art design and beat-em-up gameplay and you’re left with a shallow adventure that’ll make itself less enjoyable the more you play. Although it’ll definitely have its fans, they’ll most likely be of the younger variety, or those that can look past the fact that, at times, it’s just not much fun to play.
The biggest problem with “Wooden Sen’Sey” is the combat system. Despite the fact that it possesses solid visuals and good control, fighting is just not fun. Our main character’s design (tiny arms) simply limits your evasiveness. While you have nifty knives to strike your enemies with, you’ll always feel like your on the defensive. As a result, the fun slowly saps itself out of the title.
The story revolves around a village chief, “Goro,” who must travel through the land on a “quest for vengeance.” While the first few levels don’t give away much of the plot, the gameplay, especially the grappling, squashing and slicing, will bring back a myriad of memories for any gamer who grew up on great platformers of the Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Genesis eras.
There are some bells and whistles to the gameplay that somewhat help the game’s overall appeal. The use of the Nintendo Wii U gamepad to aid you in swinging, while grappling is also a cool use of technology that spices up what could have just been tried-and-true gameplay. The ability to throw Goro’s grappling hook around wherever you want and at a pretty decent speed also changes the gameplay formula, allowing you to either kill everything you see or simply buzz through the level. With the aforementioned problems with the combat system, you’ll most likely ave the combat for the scenes where you must do so in order to advance.
While the lack of a real story and charismatic lead character has the potential to stump the experience over time, it’s hard to argue with the ease of control and intuitive gameplay.
At the same time, “Wooden Sen’Sey” feels like it’s only half of what it should or even could be. Had the combat and story been more developed, it would easily be in the running for one of the best indie games to hit the Wii U in 2014. Instead, it’s more a middling effort that redeems itself with a bargain price and cool level design.
With a lack of games to bite into this summer, “Wooden Sen’Sey” could kill a few hours of your time, but you’d be much better served playing the games that obviously inspired it.
Visuals Are Unique: “South Park” meets “Little Big Planet,” the game’s visuals don’t scream current generation, but they are cool enough to get your attention.
Grappling Hook Works Well: If Little Big Planet’s Sackboy had a grappling hook, it would work exactly like this one. That, if anything, is a testament to the work that went into at least that are of combat. Why it wasn’t extended to melee attacks is mind-boggling.
Level Design is Polished: For the most part, most of the levels feel very different. For an indie game, it shows plenty of attention to detail and effort. That goes a long way.
Combat Isn’t Satisfying: Goro has T-Rex arms. Kind of ironic considering the “Mortal Kombat” character whose name he shares. You have to get entirely too close to your enemies to hit them and once you do, it’s hard to tell if you have. “Strider” this is not.
Story Lacks Punch: Goro is a badass, but his story isn’t fleshed-out enough in the beginning to make him a compelling character. This game desperately needs a few cut-scenes to connect the gamer to the character a bit more.
Those looking for a short-lived action adventure on the Wii U on the cheap will get some playtime out of “Wooden Sen-Sey,” but it’ll serve more as a time killer than anything truly memorable. Average combat and straight ahead action hurt the title too much to separate it from the rest of the games in the genre.
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