The Adventures of Shuggy ReviewJoe Shaffer
The Adventures of Shuggy could easily have been a coin-op game in a past life. Its rules and mechanics are simple. In each stage, you negotiate a 2D room full of platforms in an effort to obtain every gem present. Oh, and you have to avoid dying as well. That's a big part of it. As it turns out, each stage is brimming with all manner of deadly devices and nasty critters. While securing the gems, you'll have to stay clear of spikes, dodge aggressive bees, give zombies the slip, and mind Thwomp wanna-bes. If you're intent on brandishing a weapon to deal with these issues, think again. Our hero, Shuggy, is not the violent type. Even for a vampire, he's actually quite peaceful.
Shuggy's only innate defense against the forces invading his castle is his superior agility. Not only is the bloodsucker capable of leaping astounding heights, but he's an expert sprinter--perhaps excessively so. Mechanically, Shuggy is sound, save for one small snag. While moving, Shuggy goes from a pleasant plod to a breakneck dash in a short amount of time. This can be an issue in the beginning, when you're still acclimating yourself to the game's physics. Much of the campaign demands precision, which can be difficult to deliver when your character inexplicably doubles and triples his speed in two nanoseconds. It's therefore not uncommon to run headlong into enemies in the first few levels.
A simple collision is enough to kill you, forcing you to restart the stage. Thankfully, you have an unlimited number of chances to finish a level. While most old school gamers might see this as a sign of weakness, I personally see it as an invitation to play until your thumbs fall off. After all, it wouldn't do to make a game as addictive as Shuggy is and then only give players finite lives.
Once you've grown accustomed to Shuggy's play mechanics and advance further into the campaign, the game becomes difficult to put down. New features crop up throughout the game that provide some much needed variety. For instance, some stages require you attach yourself to a rope and either rappel down a wall or dangle and swing. Some of the clock tower stages also require you to wrap the rope around gears in an effort to turn them, usually to open a gate. Other stages feature special abilities that allow you to rotate rooms, float through the air, or even switch between some of Shuggy's pals.
Some of those level can be quite intricate, especially one that involves positioning your allies on various switches in order to deactivate barriers found throughout the room. As I recall, it was a fairly tricky level. There were moments when I needed a barrier down, but deactivating it demanded that I move a teammate off of a switch. It usually turned out that I needed the character to stay put after all, which led to me having to figure out a way to get another ally to the switch I needed activated. As you can imagine, that meant experimenting with a multitude of switch combinations and going insane. After pulling out every hair in my body, I finally found the solution.
Some of the special rules, like the aforementioned floating ability, aren't used often enough. Instead, the game insists upon repeatedly utilizing a feature that's annoying, but still challenging and addictive in its own right: cloning. Much like The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, Shuggy has a generous number of stages that produce clones of yourself after about a minute of playing. Upon spawning they'll run the same path you did, even stopping to interact with any switches or bits of environment you touched. Stages like these require a lot of planning and expert dodging. Touch one of your clones and it's lights out. That might not sound like a tall order, but it can be horribly difficult when you have six or seven Shuggys on the screen.
With its variety of stage types and challenges, I couldn't help but fall in love with this game. I think what helps its cause most of all is that every level is apparently easy to complete, but oh so possible to fail. I can't count the number of times I stayed up late playing the game, telling myself that I would give a stage just one more try before going to bed. I knew in the back of my mind that I could succeed, but I kept faltering. Hours would pass before I realized that my "one more try" has turned into an all-nighter with a vampire.
The Adventures of Shuggy succeeds in just about every aspect. It's a fast-paced, highly addictive arcade-style platformer with simple mechanics and plenty of variety. It may take a bit to get used to the awkward running speed, but once you've got it down pat, you'll find a wonderful time attack title that offers loads of content and a fantastic soundtrack.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.