Funk of Titans (Wii U) Second Opinion Review

By Rudy Lavaux 28.04.2016

Review for Funk of Titans on Wii U

The dying WiiWare platform owes a lot to EnjoyUp for saving the day back in 2012 by bringing fantastic indie platformer La-Mulana to the West. The team has also successfully tackled development duties over the years, with Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ, 99Bullets, 99Seconds and Unepic being positive examples. Funk of Titans, however, was not seen as being too hot. How does it look with a fresh pair of eyes, though? Cubed3 delivers a second opinion of the Wii U eShop title that was ported from mobile and tablet platforms last year.

Originally released on mobile and tablets before being ported to the Wii U eShop, among other platforms, it is somewhat obvious why the game is like it is - a platformer with automatic running. This is, basically, a Rayman: Jungle Run or Rayman: Fiesta Run lookalike where the character on screen runs on its own and, on mobiles and tablets, requires screen touches to make the character jump or swipes for performing an attack. This is as simple as it gets and it would be hard to make a working platformer on a machine devoid of any physical inputs unless the developer wanted to go the same route as some other platformers on mobile platforms like Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, which used an on-screen virtual joystick and buttons. The latter doesn't work nearly as well as actual buttons and sticks, though, making the game hard to play. Funk of Titans went down the more appropriate route, offering a kind of experience that makes sense in the realm of mobile entertainment. How does that translate to Wii U?

As other ports of Android or iPhone games do, including some already distributed by EnjoyUp in the past, the basic mechanics of jumping and attacking have been assigned to physical buttons, which actually makes everything somewhat more playable. The Wii U, though, having a touch screen built into its main controller, means it's possible for it to work as it was initially intended to, right? Yes… and the result is terrible. There is a slight delay in the input through the resistive screen of the Gamepad, which was clearly not meant to be used in this way, and for good reason, too, since it already has buttons and sticks built in for quick inputs. Good intentions, but a slightly wasted effort due to the nature of the hardware itself not lending itself well to these types of controls. Overall, this plays as a classic platformer would be expected to play. As a matter of fact, from some of the aesthetics to the way the map of the in-game worlds works, the naming and numbering of stages, the multiple paths, the collectibles... it wouldn't be far-fetched to suspect heavy inspiration was drawn from Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.

Screenshot for Funk of Titans on Wii U

Similarities don't stop there either… but more on that later. Perseus, of Greek mythology fame, is an aspiring king of funk - a muscular black dude donning a horrible afro - on his quest to make funk the most popular genre of music across Greece, beating fans of pop, rap, and rock to do so. It is all divided into three main worlds, each representing a music genre, and comprises of stage after stage for Perseus to travel through, collecting golden vinyl records, called Vinylus, as well as one Pegasus statuette each time. Additionally, succeeding in getting through a stage without receiving any damage grants a third type of bonus, all three counting towards overall completion. This is no different than collecting all KONG letters and puzzle pieces during 2.5D Donkey Kong Country titles, so it seems like there was some inspiration going on. Where it borders on plagiarism, however, is with the bonus Pegasus levels. In those, Perseus rides a wooden stick with a Pegasus head stuck at the end of it - the aforementioned Perseus trophy - that flies through an auto-scrolling stage, sending obstacles his way as he tries to collect as many Vinylus as possible along the further possible distance.

The end comes as soon as he crashes into something, and altitude is controlled by holding down a button to make him rise up, and releasing to let him fall back down. This is, again, essentially, the flying barrel stages from the last two Donkey Kong Country releases. It does not just control slightly the same... the feeling of it and the mechanics are identical! Some would say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, yet, while there is some truth in that, in the case of Funk of Titans, those bonus stages are all the same, with the same repeating scenery and no real goal beyond trying to reach a high distance and collecting as many Vinylus as possible, so while the first one or two tries feel fun and unavoidably familiar, they will also quickly feel boring due to the repetitiveness, and not nearly as fun as Donkey Kong's barrel stages could be. Not to mention yet another problem with the game: performance issues…

Screenshot for Funk of Titans on Wii U

The frame-rate is irregular throughout, even under the best circumstances. Frame drops are jarringly noticeable and since the speed at which the Pegasus stages scroll is constantly increasing the further the player gets, the worse frame drops come when succeeding, making it harder to concentrate and invariably resulting in failure, which is extremely frustrating. Most stages play the same, some occasionally introducing certain new mechanics, like trampolines that bounce Perseus around, or swings that he automatically hangs to, and so on. Certain enemies have to be sliced with his sword to avoid running stupidly into them while others can be bounced off of. Enemies, who never attack or move by the way, are placed in such a way throughout that some of them must be bounced off of to avoid falling to immediate death, while others have to be bounced off of in order to gather every single Vinylus, so memorisation will play a big role in how each level is played.

Most stages will feel very repetitive, though. The scenery doesn't change a lot, although it does contain some puns on certain pop culture stuff related to music, like the Pegasus Idol billboard being modelled after the American Idol TV show logo, among other things. It's better not to spoil too many of those, though, as they make up some of the best parts of the game, which does after all sport a lot of humorous elements. References to real life people, for example, are present, such as Aretha Franklin being a goddess of Olympus, or Hercules being a caricature of the guy on the cover of Fatboy Slim's 1998 hit album "You've Come a Long Way, Baby," donning the same T-shirt, reading "He's #1, so why try harder" (instead of "I'm...") with the same kind of yellow badge.

Each of the three worlds ends on a boss battle against some of the creatures that Perseus fought in the myth. Indeed, funnily enough, the overall story somewhat follows the original story of Perseus. Not only is Pegasus present and Perseus battles with a sword, but, for instance, Medusa is present as a Queen of Pop with machine guns for breasts (yes, you did read that right!). She gets battled in a nightclub and, instead of getting beheaded, she is, instead, confronted in a music battle that is nothing more than an overly easy, quick-time event encounter of sorts.

Screenshot for Funk of Titans on Wii U

It's easy to imagine this offering some challenge on a smaller touch screen because they appear unexpectedly on different parts of the screen, but here, being mapped to physical buttons and the label of the button being obviously displayed on-screen, those battles offer no sense of challenge whatsoever. Overall, Funk of Titans plays much like a very short collectathon sort of platformer where much of the sense of achievement will come from collecting everything that could be collected. Certain Pegasus idols cannot be collected straight away, meaning that there will be some back-tracking involved to make the game seem longer. Some of them are indeed locked behind doors that require a certain type of sword to be destroyed. Said swords are purchased using the Vinylus collected and require hero levels to be unlocked. These hero levels can be reached by accomplishing certain in-game achievements, like finishing some stages naked (Perseus dies after two hits and runs around in his trunks like Arthur from Ghosts n' Goblins after being hit once) or bouncing off the heads of certain enemies a certain amount of times. Those achievements, sadly, can only be achieved once they are active for reaching the next level, which is unfortunate, as sometimes you will be asked to perform again what was already achieved before, but this was likely, once again, done to virtually extend the longevity.

It's too bad that, overall, there is some wasted potential in Funk of Titans. Being a title all about music, it comes across as a disappointment that the music is not more memorable and that each world plays only one single music track for its regular stages and not even in line with the theme of the world itself. It's hard to imagine a game of this budget go all out and offer only rhythm-based stages akin to those of Rayman Legends's Castle Rock, for example, but some music-based gameplay could surely have been achieved, like some rhythmic bonuses being added for performing well in battling foes in rhythm. Nevertheless, for all its flaws and limitations, it must be stressed that all the pop culture references and jokes are really enjoyable and that this is not entirely boring - it just somewhat misses the target a little bit through this Wii U port.

Screenshot for Funk of Titans on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Funk of Titans is perfectly capable of providing some amusement for sure due to its quirkiness and overall sense of humour, beyond the fact that it doesn't do much original in the way of gameplay, even copying blatantly some of the best ideas that came from others. However, the repetitiveness of the music and action, its short length, and some obvious wasted opportunities hold it back from being all that it could be on Wii U, not to mention the annoying performance issues that this particular version suffers from. There are certainly better titles to be found on the Wii U eShop in the platform genre that are better fits for the system, even if this one isn't all bad either. However, Funk of Titans is ultimately better recommended to be played the way that it was initially intended, which is on mobile platforms where it runs well... and in the short kind of play sessions expected on those platforms, through which much of the repetitiveness and flaws will not be quite as apparent.

Developer

A Crowd of Monsters

Publisher

EnjoyUp

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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