Wooden Sen'SeY (Wii U) Review

By Albert Lichi 29.07.2014

Review for Wooden Sen

Wooden Sen'SeY brings the pain in a humorous side-scrolling platformer with some tight grapple-hook mechanics to mix up the action. Neko Entertainment proudly wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Wooden Sen'SeY has shades of Bionic Commando, DuckTales, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and a very sly homage to Eric Chahi's Another World beneath its lushly textured exterior. A very fluid and responsive action-platformer, it is sadly held back by some questionable design choices and lack of substantial replay value. Read on for Cubed3's final verdict on this new Wii U eShop release.

First impressions are the longest lasting and Wooden Sen'SeY makes a bold one with its art direction. With richly coloured levels and a very fluid frame-rate, it really is a splendorous game to behold. Wafting Sakura petals and various particle and depth of field effects give a handcrafted miniature model quality. These worlds are massive; too massive actually. There are moments when the game drags because these levels are so long it becomes almost tedious. Some of the longer levels of Wooden Sen'SeY could have been two levels so as to allow players to take a break without having to replay long stretches of admittedly challenging platforming and grapple swinging.

The story of Wooden Sen'SeY couldn't be simpler; bad guy shows up and steals Goro's booze and Goro sets out on a journey to take it back. Goro, the hero, is a drunken master wooden effigy. He slices, he dices, chops and slashes - but wait, there's more! Much like in DuckTales Remastered and the recent Shovel Knight, Goro has a downward pogo attack he performs with axe-chains. This manoeuvre is easily performed and has feedback with the appropriate crunch that causes devastating damage to enemies. It has a launching quality that also can be used on otherwise deadly traps/spikes and all enemies. The grapple swinging mechanics work well enough, too, but the swinging physics are on the slow side. Maintaining swinging momentum at a brisk pace is a fruitless endeavour, but thankfully there are only a few instances where the game relies on the player mastering this ability.

Screenshot for Wooden Sen'SeY on Wii U

When Goro is not leaping and grappling, he is foppishly swinging his axes. Sadly, the close quarters combat is pretty weak. Goro's hits can best be described as dinky and it takes a lot to take down even the weakest enemies. The range for his attacks is also pathetically short, and - given the design of the characters - it can be a little tricky discerning what direction anyone is facing. Frustratingly, there are also plenty of flow-breaking moments, such as when Goro awkwardly flails at an enemy until it submits and dies; tedious and middling combat mechanics.

As the difficulty of Wooden Sen'SeY ramps up, some of the game's more questionable design choices become apparent. For instance, the lack of invincibility frames creates some truly frustrating and unfair situations where Goro gets caught and stuck in a loop of animation and takes a flurry of hits until he's dead. Dying in the game will deduct a life like in many classic games, but it is not handled well in this case. There are lots of lives to collect - one around every checkpoint even - and it begs the question of why even bother with lives at all.

Another low-point in Wooden Sen'SeY is the very slow submarine shooter level. What could have been a great way to mix up the action instead becomes the most boring part of the game. The submarine controls like Flappy Bird, where the user taps a button for altitude and a torpedo launcher that fires very small projectiles. However, that is not to be outdone by the single worst aspects of Wooden Sen'SeY, which are the arbitrary combat segments where Goro goes toe-to-toe with waves of enemies. As mentioned earlier, combat is not the game's strong suit, yet there are many times Goro must fight a few waves of enemies; this is filler in its most basic and superficial form.

Screenshot for Wooden Sen'SeY on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Wooden Sen'SeY is not the sum of its parts. Beautiful and polished looking visuals can only take a game so far until some of the questionable elements begin to niggle away at the core package. Neko's latest on Nintendo Wii U eShop shows promise at the start, but the padding, poor pacing, cheap deaths from lack of invincibility frames, and extended moments of boredom from a submarine level hold this game back. It falls short from being truly recommended, as opposed as a game that only the hardest core player would appreciate. Seeing more of what this development team can achieve would be interesting, seeing as how it clearly does know what it is doing for the most part.

Developer

Upper Byte

Publisher

Neko

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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