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Precision platformers are a hit or miss proposition. The delicate balance between difficulty and fun has to be leveraged with controls and level design. Developer Dmytro Derybas looks to walk that tight rope with Shubedi Boo. Does everything fall into place nicely or is this one a skip for platform junkies?
Shmubedi Boo sounds like the incessant ramblings of an Adam Sandler character but is instead the bright colourful land you will inhabit for the 100+ levels of patience-testing platforming action. The nondescript story has you choosing one of 7 heroes to return all the stolen apples to the peaceful inhabitants of Shmubedi Boo. What you’ve just read virtually sums up the tale but outside of a title like Celeste we generally don’t get much of narrative but we do get hardcore platforming.
Platformers live and die (a lot) by their controls. The precision needed to pull off skilful acrobatics while avoiding obstacles of death need to be responsive and fluid. Unfortunately right from the jump (pun definitely intended), Shumdei misses the mark. The controls feel floaty at best and reduce simple tasks like turning around to feeling like you are standing on ice. At worst they are over-sensitive and lack the precision needed when tackling rage-inducing challenges set before you. Throughout our playthrough, we were able to “get used” to the controls and persevere, but that shouldn’t be how we enter a game. While by its very nature death will come over and over again the fact that the vast majority of lost lives were due to the controls as opposed to errant jumps became overly frustrating. On to many occasions simply turning around resulted in falling off moving platforms or the worst taking a full step in the opposite direction to walk into a spiked wall. Standouts in the genre like Super Meat Boy and The End is Nigh while brutal are also fair due to the tight controls which give you 100% control not leaving anything to chance. Fighting the controls along with the enemies and level design make this a practice in masochism that not all will welcome.
Visually, Shmubedi is every bit the 8-bit retro platformer it set out to be. The bright vibrant land is a happy mirage for the pain the world will inflict upon you. The smattering of enemies all have their own unique look as does each of the playable characters. These range from big-eyed frogs and gingerbread men to ninjas. Finding the hidden apple shops along your journey will even allow you to outfit your character with different headwear to spice things up. These shops will also be one of your main resources in gaining extra lives, which you will need. Additionally, upon depleting your stock of lives you will be sent to purgatory. Here you have a chance (not a big one at the end) of rejoining the land of the living by spinning a wheel. 1 to 100 lives can be gained but you can also hit the dreaded red circle and just get sent to your end game stat screen.
The audio side of things fits nicely. The sound effects are just right and don’t break immersion at all while the soundtrack is varied enough to not get dull. But much like the rest of the game it just feels ok. The character-specific sounds are a neat touch but ultimately get lost in all the chaos of the onscreen action.
On the whole Shmubedi Boo is fine. The added multiplayer component is ok and does add more danger to the proceedings but can’t save what amounts to an average platformer with bad controls. When finesse is the order of the day loose controls ruin what could be a solid platformer. In the end, Shmubedi Boo delivers the tough nails platformer action but not in the way most gamers would expect from a title in this genre.
TBG Score: 5/10
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 01/10/2020
No. of Players: 1-4
Category: Platformer, Action
Developer: Dmytro Derybas
Publisher: Dmytro Derybas
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop