Review: Chubbins

Is it a hop or a skip?

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 06/20/2014 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Creative boss fights; Simple controls
Poison Mushroom for...
Frustrating gameplay; Cheap deaths; Bland visuals and sound

The Nintendo eShop has become a strong outlet for indie developers to release games that might not be able to thrive in stores. While we’ve seen quite a bit of ingenuity, we’ve also seen titles that don’t quite have the same level of polish as the average retail release. Chubbins tends to fall into the latter category, lacking the strength and charm of some of the eShop’s better offerings.

Chubbins has a fairly simple premise: guide the game’s titular bouncing rabbit to the end of each level without dying. Those familiar with Doodlejump will likely find some small similarities in the way the characters handle, minus the iOS title’s motion controls. Chubbins never stops bouncing, and there isn’t much else that the chubby white rabbit can do. While Doodlejump allowed players to fire at enemies by tapping the screen, Chubbins can simply jump farther or faster, depending on the type of platform he lands on. Mastering each of these platform types is the only way to make it to the end of each level. They control the height of each jump, and something as simple as passing a single enemy can take careful strategy, and a bit of guesswork. There are power-ups that prevent Chubbins from being harmed by colored spikes (for example, carrots protect the rabbit from orange spikes), but the developers have kept Chubbins‘ controls fairly basic. The game is easy to control, though the constant use of the D-Pad will invariably lead to sore thumbs.

Each of Chubbins‘ five worlds is broken down into smaller levels. Each level contains multiple checkpoints which come in handy, because reaching the end is much easier said than done. Chubbins is a hard game. A really, really hard game. Deaths come fast and frequent, and there is a precision needed in the very earliest of levels. Timing is key, and with one-hit deaths, it will take players many attempts to clear each level. While some old-school purists might be intrigued by the high difficulty level, other players will find themselves cursing the title, even on the “soft” difficulty setting. A more gradual build would have been appreciated, and made the later levels feel more satisfying.

That level of difficulty is easily Chubbins‘ biggest downfall. While there’s certainly a level of skill involved, it often feels like a much older game, complete with the artificially enhanced difficulty. There are certain development decisions that make this seem intentional. While the game does offer unlimited continues, cleared levels only stay saved if you finish the world. With the number of deaths on the high side, an advanced gamer could find themselves spending a half an hour or more to finish one world. Otherwise, it’s back to the start the next time you boot up the game. This is particularly frustrating with a game this hard to master. That’s not the only thing that feels a little cheap, either. Levels have checkpoints dispersed throughout, but after you’ve touched one, the previous checkpoints become unchecked. This might seem like an odd note, but since Chubbins has you bouncing up, down, left and right to reach the finish, falling is a frequent occurrence. If you touch an old checkpoint trying to stop your fall, you’ll restart from that checkpoint, rather than the latest one you already made it to. Essentially, the player is robbed of some of their progress. It happened to me once, and it almost happened multiple other times. It’s just another thing preventing the game from feeling fair.

Chubbins might be a little more tolerable if it was easier on the eyes. Sadly, this department isn’t much to write home about. The game’s art direction is bland, and makes some of Wii’s bargain bin titles look downright pretty in comparison. While Chubbins is a decent looking mascot, backgrounds are bland, and none of the worlds ever feel all that much different from one another. Once you’ve seen one level, you’ve seen them all. Worlds are simply differentiated by different colors in the background. Enemies are equally dull, with owls that float in your way, and bouncing badgers. The sounds aren’t much better, either. Chubbins’ “death squeak” becomes particularly frustrating, as you’ll hear it ad nauseam. As for the music, it’s recycled throughout each level in the world, with the boss fights being the one exception.

The boss fights do break up the monotony a little bit. There is a cleverness in the designs that gives a little more incentive to push on and fight. The boss fights still stick to the formula used in most of the levels (you’re still just jumping), but it never feels as cheap as it does in the other stages. Figuring out the enemy’s pattern can still be difficult, but nothing about the fights feels unfair. Instead, there’s a real sense of satisfaction after completing one, especially since there’s no room for error. They’re easily the biggest highlight of the game.

My biggest problem with Chubbins is that I never quite found myself having fun with it. Instead, I was consistently frustrated, and longer play sessions resulted in sore thumbs. I’ve forgiven blisters before (I’m looking at you, Mario Party), but it’s not worth it if I’m not enjoying the time I’m spending. The game lacks a significant amount of depth, the level designs are bland, and the difficulty level is punishing, even on the lower setting. If you’re an old-school purist looking for a stiff challenge that harkens back to the NES days, Chubbins might be worth a look. Personally, I’ll stick with Doodlejump.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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