How would you feel if you were a little wooden Sen’sey whose alcohol has been robbed? That’s exactly what has happened to Goro. Black blobs of alien ink have ransacked Sey bottles from his village, and this booze-loving hunk of axe-wielding wood is not going to stand for it.
Upper Byte Studios bring us Wooden Sen’sey for the WiiU and the PC, a cheap and cheerful action platformer. Although Wooden Sen’sey doesn’t offer a great deal in the way of originality when it comes to the Platformer genre, it is a beautifully crafted and highly enjoyable game.
So, you play the role of Goro, a disgruntled small figure with an oversized rice hat, wielding an axe on a chain. Black blobby things have stolen Sey bottles from Goro’s village, and Goro is hell-bent on getting them back. That’s about as complicated as the story line is going to get, and the humorous tone carries on throughout the game. It’s very light-hearted and doesn’t take itself seriously, which is everything you want in a good platformer. Goro has a single, uncomplicated goal in mind – get his booze back!
Goro’s main weapon is his axe, which can be used for very short range melee hits, and can also be flung out and used to strike enemies from afar, from below, and it doubles up as a grapple hook from which to swing. Later in the game, Goro receives the ability to throw bombs. The melee attack is practically useless – the range is just too short, and any enemy can land a hit before you so much as get close enough to hit them close range. This means you will find yourself spamming your downward axe attack, which is a familiar platformer move, but makes combat feel a little limited.
Goro can use his axe to double jump, which is a slightly fiddly move to master on the controls, but will prove invaluable again and again during the game. You can either use the WiiU’s buttons or motion control to execute Goro’s moves. Both work just fine, and the motion control is good fun and really draws you into the game. But hitting the face buttons is definitely recommended in times when you need to be moving fast.
Wooden Sen’Sey does stand out from the platformer crowd in the WiiU e-shop because it is just so beautiful. The levels tend to be brightly coloured and Oriental looking, with the inky black enemies looming forebodingly in stark contrast. There are some silhouette levels in which the foreground, Goro and his enemies are all black against a coloured background, which has admittedly been done before, but is refreshing and keeps the levels from seeming too alike as you progress. There is also a fun underwater level, changing the scenery yet again. This title is highly stylised, and both the artwork and the soundtrack are noteworthy. The music is not repetitive, and changes with the level. Combining this with an every shifting range of forestry, industry and submarine settings, the levels are wonderfully varied, even if the gameplay begins to feel a tad repetitive. Surprises are thrown at you at every turn – whether it’s finding yourself weaponless, having to navigate watery depths or being unable to distinguish black enemies from a silhouette background, Wooden Sen’sey keeps you on your toes. While it is a little frustrating to not be allowed to fall into a rhythm of gameplay, it is a definite plus point for keeping it interesting.
The biggest problem is, there just isn’t enough of it. This game can be completed in about 2 hours, if you’re persistent. It is brutally difficult, and there are time trials that can be played, but even with the added toughness, Wooden Sen’sey flies by just as you are really getting your teeth into it. There are 9 Worlds in total to be beaten, and you can replay levels and attempt to collect all of the Sey bottles available, or kill every enemy within.
But be warned – when I say it is difficult, I really mean it. This game is not for the easily frustrated – it takes no prisoners. I’m a fairly seasoned platformer player – I’m a 90’s kid after all. And I found myself repeteadly dying and refraining from hurling my gamepad from the window several times. Ninja stars are especially annoying. Goro has no block move, and so if you don’t time your own attacks and swings and dodges right, you will take a ninja star to the face and there’s nothing you can do about it. As much as I relish a challenge, I feel that this game would not sit well with the impatient or the easily disheartened. Completionists will not have an easy time here, especially as the levels get progressively harder. But there are plenty of achievements out there to tackle. And let’s face it … how many times did we die on Rayman or Mario? More than we can count? Wooden Sen’sey can be forgiven, then, for its intenseness.
Wooden Sen’sey is beautiful, has a fantastic soundtrack and an array of varied levels, albeit not enough for my liking! The combat is slightly limited due to a too-short melee range, but the mechanics are easy to get used to and flow nicely with the game. Goro is an amusing and likeable character, full of humour and fun. He is especially charming when he ducks, and becomes just a rice hat walking around on the ground. The impersonal inky blackness of the enemies is charming, as is the story itself. Wooden Sen’sey is a fairly predictable but engaging game, and although it isn’t for the impatient, it would be a great addition to anyone’s platformer collection.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.