Review: Underground

Teaches you surgery with tiny robots.

By Anthony Pershkin. Posted 01/16/2015 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Unique premise and gameplay; charming presentation
Poison Mushroom for...
Occasional technical difficulties; pretty high price

Sometimes video games get used in ways not exactly planned by their creators, like for training purposes in the army, for example. Sometimes, though, video games are designed specifically to help people of certain professions overcome their training process more easily. That’s exactly the case with Underground for Wii U, a quirky downloadable puzzle game that also happens to be a surgery simulator. While certainly helpful as an educational tool, how does it fare as a piece of entertainment?

Underground surprisingly enough features a very engaging narrative presented in charming cutscenes. Through these dialogue-free FMVs, accompanied by a beautiful score, the game tells the story of one little butler robot trying to get his fellow robots and a little girl home safely. And he’s doing it by controlling a big mechanical tool with two grabby hands. Naturally, you’re playing as this butler robot and it’s up to you to guide his unfortunate brothers around the dangers of the underground.

The game features a top-down view of the situation, as you control both mechanical arms with the left and right sticks of the GamePad. The objective is to free robots and make a safe path to the end of the level. To complete this task, the player has to build bridges, destroy obstacles, and power up elevators. Both arms have various abilities, which can be switched on the fly with the help of the GamePad’s touchscreen. Being designed as a medical training game, Underground focuses heavily on multitasking. While the game starts off fairly easy, after the first boss encounter it gradually becomes more challenging to perfectly finish new levels.

Underground features a very unique control scheme, but at times I felt like it was struggling to keep up with the whole idea of a game, which can be both fun and useful in terms of medical training. Mechanical arms, controlled by the player, exist in the same space as everything else in the game, so they occasionally overlap with objects not in the most pleasant way. As both sticks are set to controlling the mechanical arms, the camera zooms in or out depending on arms’ location on the screen. That, combined with the overlapping problem, can create some very frustrating moments. Thankfully, the game, while challenging, doesn’t require you to complete impossible tasks under strict time, so with enough practice you will be able to avoid such situations and just enjoy the game. The core gameplay is very fun, but obviously would be better with more overall precision in regard to how everything works, especially in a game built around fast thinking and multitasking.

Underground looks rather pleasing visually, despite staying mostly on the basic side of things. FMVs are obviously not as sharp as the in-game graphics, but they still provide so much charm that I eagerly awaited to see every new cutscene. Unfortunately, Underground also has occasional frame rate problems, but they’re mostly noticeable during the beginning of levels.

Underground is a fascinating little title, which can be entertaining for both fans of puzzle games and surgeons in training. Despite some technical hiccups, the game provides enough hours of original and fun gameplay. I can’t speak to how good exactly Underground is for medical training, but as a game it is a pretty neat puzzle title. If you’re searching for something different to play, Underground has plenty of creativity.

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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