Wunderling Review – A Wonderful and Hilarious Platformer

by Dan
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Wunderling

Wunderling is a beautiful, funny, interesting, and overall excellent adventure. Released on March 5th, and developed by Retroid, I would not be surprised if Wunderling flew under your radar. I am here to tell you that it should not have, and you still have time to join in on the fun. If you like fun indie games, especially platformers, this game is absolutely for you.

The Premise

The hero of the land is a carrot on a quest to save Princess Pea. He runs through your kingdom, stomping on underlings and wreaking havoc. The witch who commands your lands is on a mission to stop the hero because he is making life hard for everyone.

The witch, Kohlrabi, is a typical politician in all of this. Sure, Carrot man is causing problems, but Kohlrabi is primed to put a PR spin on this whole thing. With the help of Dash, a cow who acts as the cameraman, Kohlrabi sets out to create a mighty boss who can stop Carrot man.

It would be effortless for Kohlrabi to make some super-powerful villain, but how would that serve her PR stunt? The story she wants to tell is one of the every-man, so she raises a previously stomped underling back to life and gives it a newfound ability to jump.

You play that underling (who looks strikingly like a Goomba) on a mission to become the ultimate boss and take down Carrot man.

Gameplay

Wunderling

Wunderling plays like you would expect a platformer to play. Also, it plays nothing like how you would expect a platformer to play. Pretty contradictory paragraph so far, huh?

What I mean is that you solve environmental puzzles to complete a level. Along the way, you collect “coins” and try to traverse to secret areas to unlock hidden items. Wunderling is very solid in those traditional gaming mechanics.

Now, what I mean when I say that it is nothing like what you expect from a platformer, I mean the control mechanics. As an underling, strongly based on Goombas, you have no control over your movement. Your underling walks right until it hits a wall, then it turns and walks in the other direction until it hits a wall. Perpetual motion.

That movement mechanic, combined with only the ability to jump (initially), makes for a unique experience. Additionally, collecting the “coins” in the level is the only way to stay alive. As soon as the level starts, a timer starts in the background. If this timer hits a certain point, a health bar shows up, and you slowly die. The only way to reset that timer, and subsequently your health bar, is to collect more of the “coins”.

When the movement and the timing mechanics combine, it makes for fascinating advanced puzzles. You may be able to get a key, solve an environmental puzzle, and get a hidden chest if you are perfect. I did this a few times, but it was challenging.

The chests are interesting because finding and unlocking them gives you accessories to dress your underling in. Right now, my underling is rocking some pretty sweet square black glasses (like I do in real life). Those who love customization will be incentivized to play levels over and over to get these chests.

Impressions

Wunderling

I find the pixel art style of Wunderling to be beautiful. Pixel art, in my opinion, is a little overused these days, but this game nails it. I also find the writing to be very charming and hilarious. The levels are challenging enough to keep you entertained, and the game continually throws new mechanics at you, so it stays fresh.

I want to quickly cover how Wunderling handles keeping things fresh because I want to give the humorous writing a good amount of attention. As an underling, you are first given the power to jump. As you defeat worlds, you are given new skills to overcome the challenges presented in that world.

Similar to getting new skills, between worlds, you get to have boss fights with Carrot man. These boss fights are fun as all get-out and break up the game a good bit. Between worlds one and two, for instance, you get to be a giant dragon and blast fire at Carrot man.

While the art and gameplay hooked me, it was the writing in Wunderling that kept me grinning the whole time. This game exists to make fun of the Super Mario series. They do a phenomenal job of doing so. 

From the introduction of the underling as a Goomba clone to the actual dialogue from Kohlrabi and Dash, Wunderling takes pretty obvious shots at Nintendo’s beloved series. What’s impressive is that this game released on Switch and PC, so bold move by Retroid to be so openly cheeky.

I think what I want to convey most about Wunderling is that it is fun from start to finish. I was consistently smiling and genuinely enjoying every moment with it.

The only negative I have to say about Wunderling is that it is missing some x-factor. Everything about this game is wonderful, but there is no one major thing that I can point to that makes it hit the next level.

In the end, I love Wunderling. It is a beautiful game that puts a twist on the story and mechanics you expect out of a platformer. I recommend Wunderling highly to anyone who likes the genre and wants something new and fun to play.

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