Cocoto Platform Jumper (Wii) review
"Platform Jumper looks like Rayman, plays like a lethargic Sonic and lifts the arcing attacks/temporary platforms from Rainbow Island. Notably, in aping games of actual worth, it manages to hobble together a Frankenstein’s monster of a title that actually works."
You got to give some mad props to Neko Entertainment for not bowing out early after their initial string of titles met with either crushing indifference or raging hate. After a rendition of HARDCORE Pool that no one’s ever heard of on the GBA, they then went on to develop Charlie’s Angels, which lives in the upper echelon of almost everyone’s worst game ever made list. I’d imagine that couldn’t be a huge morale booster for the fledgling company, even if the title’s sales were given a healthy boost by people wanting to see if their game was really as bad as was said.
MONEY SAVING TIP: It is.
But they toiled away anyhow creating, in what seemed to be a moment of sheer madness, their own mascot akin to SEGA’s little blue hedgehog they won’t let peacefully die or Nintendo’s obese plumber with the ‘70s porn ‘tashe. Neko developed Cocoto, a funny little imp who looks like he’s spent too much time out in the sun, and then threw him into any genre they could think of. He’s been a kart racer, a fisherman and a platform jumper. Can you guess which of these activities he’ll partake in in Cocoto Platform Jumper?
Further props need to be offered in how the little red imp made his way onto the Wii in the first place. Anything from the PS2 era has since been considered fair game to have a straight port slapped straight to the Wii with obligatory and oft-clumsy motion controls duct-taped on, but Neko took their PAL-only title and threw it up as WiiWare for all the world to download at a much smaller price. But probably their biggest pat on the back is what the finished product turned out to be, even through it’s a patchwork quilt of ideas ‘borrowed’ from a number of other platforming titles.
Platform Jumper looks like Rayman, plays like a lethargic Sonic and lifts the arcing attacks/temporary platforms from Rainbow Island. Notably, in aping games of actual worth, it manages to hobble together a Frankenstein’s monster of a title that actually works.
Like Ancell’s world without limbs, Cocoto has 3D sprites set against the 2D backdrops of each of the game’s five differing stages, and, like Rainbow Islands, his main form of attack is a curving beam -- in this case scorching lava -- that can be used to singe, trap or flatten enemies. Like Sonic, Cocoto collects items that make him invulnerable while he has stock of them. Sonic had his rings, Cocoto lugs around fruits that, when hit, scatter around him prompting a desperate lunge to reclaim them before another blow sends him (back) to the netherworld.
But where Sonic surges forward, Cococto climbs upward. Aided by his ability to make molten platforms whose durability depend entirely on how well they’re founded, the demon’s goal is to reach the top of the forty different levels and throw down with the five end-of-stage bosses that lurk at the summit. He stills needs to navigate the genre staples of floating platforms and overhanging leaps, something aided by controls that include a double-jump as standard. Everything is re-mapped to the wiimote and nunchuck competently; the only deviation being a useless spin attack which requires an awkward shake of the controller. Luckily, the attack is the poorest in your arsenal, and you’ll probably never use it.
It’s not all perfect, as you’d expect from such a mash-up of ideas. In an attempt to draw some distance from the obvious Sonic and his rings method of staying alive, the fruit employed by Cocoto are not collected: collectables come in the shape of multicoloured gems, and fruit is only rewarded to you for seeing off any of the stage’s nasties, like bespectacled monkeys or sentient totem poles. This often leaves you wide open for a cheap death as you try to hunt down that first kill in levels sometimes happy to give you large spats of plat forming between combat.
I could be petty and complain about the title taking up 300 memory slots, but it’s a downloadable PS2 game mapped out to fit Wiiware, and as such features a host of multiplayer options, such as a four-way race to the top of a screen or a one-on-one battle mode. The real shocker is that, considering the developer’s pedigree and the vanilla-sounding title, Cocoto Platform Jumper does enough to prove itself both relevant and retro, offering gamers something they’ve not been given since the heyday of Taito wrapped up in a shinier sheen. It’s never going to set the world on fire, but it’s perhaps fitting that Cocoto’s forgotten adventures are given a second chance to resonate with gamers who didn’t even know the busy little devil existed. I can’t tell you how he fares in a racing kart or armed with a fishing rod, but I can tell you he’s pretty handy jumping up platforms. Even if he has to constantly worry about possible lawsuits from Ubisoft and SEGA.
But not Taito; they strike me as people who’ll be happy to inspire something out of someone. Neko don’t go far wrong in carrying that torch on for them.
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