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Wuppo

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SOEDESCO
Developer: Knuist & Perzik
Release Date: Sept. 29, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.

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PC Review - 'Wuppo'

by Brian Dumlao on Jan. 18, 2017 @ 2:30 a.m. PST

Play as an exiled wum looking for a new home in this charming world that's filled with strange creatures, puzzles, monsters and political chaos.

When it comes to storylines, most adventure games have been stuck in a rut for a while. The setups may not vary much, but ultimately, you'll either be involved in a rescue mission for someone important or saving the world. What makes Wuppo stand out is that the story takes a different approach from other adventure games.

You take on the role of a wum, a small, round creature with thin legs. You're pretty ordinary, except for the fact that you love ice cream and make an unusually giant mess when you eat it. Your latest ice cream request makes a mess all over the hotel before you take your first lick, and you're kicked out of the hotel and your TV is stolen. With nothing left, you're on an adventure to find a new home.

The catalyst for the plot is presented in a humorous way, and it maintains the sort of humor that is reminiscent of the Paper Mario series. It may not have as many memorable characters as that lighthearted RPG series, but you meet some quirky people, and their reactions elicit smiles. The only disappointment is that once you're close to the end of the game, the story changes course, and you must save the world. The change is organic, but it would've been nice to see a story that didn't rely on that crutch.


The gameplay fits the Metroidvania description perfectly. The side-scrolling world is somewhat open from the beginning, with a few story-based blockers pacing your progress to ensure that you don't miss important milestones. The game focuses on platforming and problem-solving over action. Platforming is pretty rudimentary, as you don't see anything more complicated than a double-jump in your arsenal, and bouncing on mushrooms is one of the trickier things you'll encounter. Falling from great heights doesn't incur any damage, but the platforming isn't so tough that one misstep causes you to repeat tricky sections.

Puzzles, on the other hand, vary wildly in terms of type and content. You have a standard assortment of switch puzzles to contend with, but you'll also have to answer quizzes or play the correct tones on a music box to gain access to the further recesses of a tower. They're unusual, but so are some of the side activities to solve some of the larger puzzles. A good example of this occurs when you reach the fabled underground city of the lums. The goal is to obtain 100,000 credits to unlock a new city expansion, and credits are earned by doing work that benefits the city. You have several avenues to accomplish this, such as taking on extermination jobs, delivering papers, participating in city debates, and working the pumps to generate electricity. You can also earn the credit by staying in a hotel, buying stuff from the store, or doing nothing and waiting for the credit to accumulate normally. The various ways in which puzzles can be solved is a great feature, and while this one in particular may seem like a time waster for some players, it plays out so well in the overall scheme of things that many won't mind.

It should be mentioned that one of the more interesting ways to power up is through happiness, a theme carried over by the fact that your HP stands for Happiness Points instead of Health Points. Unlike other titles, where you need physical items to gain this or general XP, you can obtain this by talking to people or doing side tasks. Show an old wub an interesting cultural filmstrip, talk to an elevator operator and tell him how important he is to the building, or participate in someone's homemade quiz show, and you'll boost your happiness by a point. Like the puzzles, there are even activities like playing around in a theme park that'll boost your HP, which makes sense if you take happiness at face value but seems like an odd thing to do in an adventure game.


Though Wuppo is focused primarily on puzzles and platforming, combat is still present. Early on, you're given a gumball gun that shoots paint splats with relatively low damage. It arcs low, so you have to get very close to do any damage, but it gets the job done. You'll get a bazooka later that does more damage if you hold down the fire button, and you can upgrade both weapons to do more damage and periodically fire off more powerful shots, provided you pay for the part and use the machine to install it.

You don't have a variety of targets. You can shoot at some of the natives, though you find out later that doing so opens up a boss fight, and a good chunk of your time will be spent shooting the game's version of rats that happen to live underwater. Combat opens up during boss fights, and the game has a whopping 17 of them, with some being completely optional if you aren't trying to go for a 100% completion rating. Like the puzzles, each one is varied, and while you can go through a few with brute force, finding out the correct attack pattern and weakness is rewarding, especially when one of the fights can end if you let the boss hurt itself.

What helps both sections of the game is the pacing. The title delivers just the right amount of fights to break up the platforming, and neither goes on for too long. As you would expect, the late game fights and puzzles can be tough, but none of it feels insurmountable and it helps that the ending feels satisfying. Though the story doesn't have any extra endings, you are encouraged to explore the world further and participate in the optional boss fights to strengthen yourself. There's also a Boss Rush mode, if you enjoy combat more than platforming.

There's not much about the game design that would rub people the wrong way, but there are some oddities. The game only lets you hold one item at a time, and consuming food to get health is a multistep process, so it's easier in most boss fights to just die and hope to dodge better in the subsequent fight — unless you've assigned those edibles to quick-select buttons. Also, the damage indicators can be large enough to briefly hide the action, and sometimes, you can't tell whether the damage is incurred or inflicted.


Graphically, the game is unusual. At first glance, it looks like something crudely done in Microsoft Paint. Colors are pretty flat, and it can be difficult to tell which areas of the screen can and can't be traversed. Give the game some time, and you'll start to notice more details, like legible signs and little squiggles that make the thick line art more interesting. Character designs are simple, but everything but the most grotesque of bosses look cute, especially when you notice them blinking, sleeping or speaking. By the end of it, the little flourishes and the ability to throw loads of characters on-screen gives this style some personality and makes it look nice.

The sound, on the other hand, is solid and more traditional for the genre. The musical score isn't epic, but it conveys the environment themes quite well. The hustle and bustle of the underground city, the emphasis on sneaking in because other lums are asleep, and discovery of spirits from another realm are handled appropriately by the music and gives each tone an extra punch. Effects are cute, if a little underwhelming, since gumball splats aren't pronounced fully, and speech is nothing more than hyperactive blips. That ends up being a good thing, since full-on speech would probably ruin the delivery, especially for some of the broken speech uttered by the flower creatures.

Wuppo excels at being a solid and cute title. The presentation makes it seem like it was made for kids, but players of all ages will find it endearing. The musical score is enjoyable, and the game's quirkiness makes the story work. The gameplay, from boss fights to puzzles of varying types, works thanks to its simplicity and good pacing. This is definitely a labor of love from the two-man development team, and it is definitely recommended for gamers of all types.

Score: 8.5/10



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