Poncho (Wii U) Review

By Camilo Aránguiz González 30.10.2016

Review for Poncho on Wii U

Retro-styled platformers aren't a rare thing to see these days, but that doesn't mean that all of them are a waste of time. Therefore, the question arises: is Poncho one of those games that is lost amongst hundreds of similar - in terms of gameplay and style - indie games, or is it one of the exceptions with a story to tell and a place to show?

At first glance, Poncho probably will not blow your mind. The colourful 8-bit art and chiptune soundtrack aren't anything new to a scene that has seen thousands of indie retro-inspired games. It doesn't take a lot of time for the game to throw in the first wise decisions, though: the simple and memorable design of Poncho, the protagonist—a cute little blue robot with a poncho, which doesn't take a genius to know that he has a lot of mascot potential—and the pixelated but alive landscapes.

This happens at the same time that the player starts to internalise the main gameplay mechanic: outside of pretty straightforward platforming, the levels are conceived in three layers - one at the front, one at the back and one in the middle - where the mechanical protagonist will have to jump from one layer to another, adding the 'puzzle' in 'puzzle-platformer.' Of course, the three-layered landscapes can be a little confusing (the developers tried to make the layers a little transparent, but that doesn't fix the problem entirely), but the mechanics and controls are explained in a smooth and well enough way, making the jump between layers very intuitive quite early in the experience.

Gameplay mechanics integrated, the levels start to tweak them and throw a few features to prevent them from getting repetitive, like a mandatory water level, some unlockable abilities, moving platforms, diamonds to gather, robots to set free, and secret caves to uncover, to name some of them. All of these are made in a very fluent experience, but sadly, this is at the cost of close-to-zero challenge because of instant respawning and no punishments for falling into pits.

Screenshot for Poncho on Wii U

However, the best aspect of Poncho is the plot and the subtle way it unfolds. The intro explains that the adventure is set after a colossal calamity, which apparently left no human alive. Besides that, the narrative is told through small conversations with NPC robots, landscapes and level progression, until the player reaches the end of the game, but not before a final level that blends splendidly expectation with the a forgettable but very atmospheric soundtrack.

Nevertheless, Poncho doesn't come without flaws. Despite none of them being huge, the aggregate of them harms the experience at least appreciably. Considerable frame rate drops, several interface problems and bad decisions, and a length that allows for finishing the game in just a few hours, granted that completing the game - gathering all the diamonds, setting free all the robots - will add some hours more.

To sum up, Poncho shines for its understated storytelling, intuitive and dynamic platforming, and solid presentation, but at times it flickers with some technical flaws and limited level design, delivering an irregular, but definitely above average, experience. Its brief duration is a double-edged sword: the experience can be marvellous for a Sunday one-time walkthrough, but has the risk of leaving the player completely unsatisfied and disappointed.

Screenshot for Poncho on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Poncho is a short adventure with excellent storytelling and amusing aspects, but far from being a flawless game, because of its technical issues, lack of challenge and altogether limited gameplay potential. An unexceptional game, but with enough personality and redeeming features that prevent it from being immediately forgotten.

Developer

Delve

Publisher

Rising Star Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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