"A high stakes obstacle corpse with plenty of bite *dodges tomatoes*"
The Adventures of Shuggy could easily have been a coin-op game in a past life. Its rules and mechanics are simple, and smack of old school score attackers and tiered platformers such as Donkey Kong and Snow Bros. In each stage, you negotiate a 2D room full of platforms in an effort to obtain every gem present. Oh, and you have to avoid dying, as well. That's a big part of it. As it turns out, each stage is brimming with all manner of deadly devices and nasty critters. While securing the gems, you have to stay clear of spikes, dodge aggressive bees, give zombies the slip and mind Thwomp wanna-bes. Perish the thought of chopping these creatures to bits or gunning them down. Our hero, Shuggy, is not the violent type. Even for a vampire, he's actually quite peaceful.
Shuggy's only innate defense against the forces invading his castle is his superior agility. Not only is the bloodsucker capable of leaping astounding heights, but he's an expert sprinter--perhaps excessively so. For the most part, Shuggy handles as wonderfully as any puzzle-platformer should. However, one snag hampers these otherwise sound mechanics: while moving, Shuggy transitions from a pleasant plod to a breakneck dash in a decidedly short period of time. As you can imagine, this presents an issue in the early outs of the campaign, especially when you're still getting acclimated to the vampire's physics. Most of the challenges you face demand precision, which is difficult to deliver when your character inexplicably doubles and triples his speed in mere seconds. Obviously, you'll run headlong into enemies often in early levels.
A simple collision kills you instantly, forcing you to restart the stage. Thankfully, Shuggy provides you with unlimited lives, so death is only a small setback. This is where Shuggy and older arcade titles diverge, and rightly so. This feature serves as an invitation to keep playing until your thumbs fall off, staying up until the wee hours to get through just one more challenge before turning in for the night.
Once you've grown accustomed to Shuggy's play control and advance further into the campaign, the game becomes difficult to stop playing. New features constantly crop up that provide much needed variety. For instance, some stages require you to grab a rope and either rappel down a wall or dangle and swing. Levels inside of a clock tower also require you to wrap the rope around gears. In doing so, you get them turning and opening gates. Other stages offer special abilities that allow you to rotate rooms, float through the air or even take control of some of Shuggy's pals.
Areas like that prove to be quite intricate and really strain your gray matter, especially one that involves positioning your allies on various switches in order to deactivate barriers found throughout the chamber. There were moments when I needed a barrier down, but deactivating it demanded that I remove a teammate from a switch. It usually turned out that I needed the character to stay put after all, which led to me having to figure out a way to get another ally to the switch I needed activated. As you can imagine, that meant experimenting with a multitude of switch combinations and going insane. After pulling out every hair in my body, I finally found the solution.
Some of the special rules, like the aforementioned floating ability, aren't used often enough. Instead, the game insists upon repeatedly utilizing a feature that's annoying, but still challenging and addictive in its own right: cloning. Much like The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, Shuggy offers a generous number of stages that produce clones of yourself after about a minute of playing. Upon spawning they'll run the same path you did, even stopping to interact with any switches or bits of environment you touched. Such stages require a lot of planning and expert dodging, because your own clones can kill you. That might not sound like a tall order, but it can be horribly difficult when you have six or seven Shuggy characters on the screen, scrambling everywhere.
With its variety of stage types and challenges, I couldn't help but fall in love with Shuggy. Each level is seemingly easy to complete, but oh so possible to fail. That creates the illusion that a stage shouldn't take you long, and before you know it you're sucked into a time sink that can last fifteen minutes or more. I can't count the number of times I stayed up late playing the game because I thought I could complete a level in just a few minutes. However, I never once regretted my underestimations, even when I had to work the next day and fought to stay awake during my shift.
The Adventures of Shuggy succeeds in just about every aspect. It's a fast-paced, highly addictive arcade-style platformer with simple mechanics and plenty of variety. It may take a bit to get used to the awkward running speed, but once you've got it down pat, you'll find a wonderful, lighthearted action title that offers loads of addictive content.
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (October 27, 2018)
Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.
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