We all like playing the hero in platforming-adventures, right? There’s nothing quite like beating on enemies, leaping between platforms, and avoiding hazards as we look to save the princess. Have you ever thought about the lives of the many minions that you’ve stomped on in this pursuit of glory though? Baddies have feelings too you know, and in Wunderling, the auto-running platformer from developer Retroid,you’ll take on the role of one as you look to become the REAL ‘hero’ of the show.
Wunderling’s tale starts in a pretty peculiar way, with player’s witnessing the triumphant platforming hero Carrot Man blast through a platforming level and vanquish all of the enemies in his path. It’s easy to root for a literal root-vegetable, so it’d make sense that players would assume that he was the true hero of this story.
Alas, that isn’t quite the case; after ruining the plans of the villainous Sorceress Kohlrabi one too many times, she decides to send one of her minions after him. With her minions’ capabilities limited to simply marching on predictable pathways without a thought though, she grants one the power to jump. That’s all you really need to beat up a platforming hero, right? Thus, the Wunderling is born and it’s up to players to lead him on an adventure to bring an end to Carrot Man’s heroic ways.
Wunderling’s gameplay is fairly straight-forward, with it adopting an auto-runner approach with the little minion continually running in a fixed direction, turning only when an obstacle blocks his path. The hero is able to jump though, which can help navigate some of the platforming challenges or collect the flower that are required by the Wunderling to survive (if you go too long without collecting one, he’ll meet his demise).
It’s a simple concept that’s easy for just about anyone to get to grips with immediately, regardless of any experience they’ve had with 2D platformers in the past. New mechanics are introduced to the game to keep things varied as you progress though, with additional abilities such as wall-climbing, boosted jumps, and wings to glide helping Wunderling feel fresh to play as you progress through the later levels.
The levels themselves are all well-designed and full of platforming segments to test the player’s skills and deadly hazards that’ll bring a swift end to the Wunderling’s journey if you’re not too careful. Levels are mostly small in design, but structured to be tackled in multiple ways; whilst it’s possible to clear levels by following the simple route to the exit, completionists will want to improvise and use all of their abilities to find the best path through levels in order to grab all of the collectibles. It makes for an addictive cycle that continually offers a challenge and a heck of a lot of replayability to players.
Whilst it all looks whimsical and nice (it’s certainly got some charming pixel art on show throughout), Wunderling is not afraid to ramp up the difficulty to ensure that player’s skills are tested and that they can’t breeze through levels in their pursuit of Carrot Man. It never frustrates though, and whilst some levels will have you wondering how on earth you’ll be able to collect everything and reach the exit in one piece, the game always has a logical solution after a bit of trial-and-error. Add some unlockable character customisation options into the mix too, and you’ll quickly find that Wunderling has an enjoyable platforming formula that’s easy to find yourself addicted to.
My only real issue comes with the game’s price, which feels a little steep at £13.99. Whilst I’ve certainly enjoyed my time playing Wunderling, it’s hard not to feel that the price is a little expensive given the simplicity of the experience. There are a heck of a lot of games on the eShop, so a more appealing price point would’ve gone a long way in making the game more tempting to casual shoppers looking to play something a little different.
Wunderling is a simple yet satisfying platforming experience that offers a nice balance of challenging and fun gameplay. The game is kept fresh thanks to the different abilities you unlock as you progress, whilst the customisation options and the replayability offered in trying to collect everything will keep you hooked in for some time.
Admittedly, the price is a little steep for what’s on offer, but gamers who enjoy charming little platformers ought to give Wunderling a try.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC