Review: Chubbins (Wii U eShop)

Despite the cute, rotund animals and colorful backgrounds Chubbins is a deceptively difficult platformer. Think Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! dream fight hard or maybe even Battletoads speeder bike hard. Those references may be pretty dated but Chubbins plays much like an old NES game and it’s not an unfair comparison to make. Back when developers could only fit so much content onto a cartridge they had to make games pretty tough to make the steep price worth it. With only 40 levels, Chubbins may seem short but it’s no easy game to master.

The premise of Chubbins is pretty straight forward. You must navigate your perpetually bouncing rabbit through an obstacle course of springy blocks and spikes all while dodging hat-wearing animals. The main action focuses on bouncy blocks which launch you varying heights and directions based on the direction of the arrows. What’s interesting about the blocks is they’re not entirely solid. If you hit an upward facing block from the bottom, for example, you’ll pass right through and continue bouncing on top. This allows for some pretty advanced platforming challenges.

Each of the game’s core mechanics are introduced early on it a tutorial world but there’s a surprising amount of variation in how those mechanics are presented. For instance, you can eat veggies which change your color allowing you to pass through similarly colored spike walls. In early levels, those carrots and clovers are extremely helpful to traverse spike-infested stages. In other levels, however, turning the wrong color would likely kill you so certain veggies must be avoided. The levels usually take a bit of trial and error which can get a bit tedious, though finally mastering a stage is quite satisfying.

One thing that really makes Chubbins feel like a classic NES game is its smart use of secrets. There were quite a few levels where I accidentally stumbled upon secret platforms hidden off screen. One such secret contained a veggie which allowed me to bypass a good chunk of spikes on a particularly difficult segment. It felt like finding one of those really convenient Warp Pipes in Super Mario Bros. and I’m willing to bet there are quite a few secrets hidden about Chubbins. To continue the old-school vibe, each world concludes with a highly aggressive boss fight which forces you to quickly dodge baddies zooming around while you bounce on their precious weak point, highly reminiscent of a certain Sonic the Hedgehog boss.

Chubbins features two difficulties in case you aren’t completely disheartened by the so called “soft” mode. Hard mode removes all checkpoints from levels forcing you to complete the whole stage in one go. In addition, bosses have more hit points and moving platforms no longer show the tracks on which they move. Since there is an unfortunate lack of mid-world save function, hard mode starts to become a frustrating since you're forced to complete the entre world in one go. The game also features a Time Attack mode allowing you to practice dying a lot.

In conclusion, Chubbins is a deceivingly punishing platformer with unique level design. Although your only method of control is moving left or right, the game’s mechanics are both intricate and varied. And while the complexity of the levels will cause you to die countless times, the difficulty is entirely skill based and your deaths never really feel cheap. You only ever die because you yourself did something wrong. +Andrew Besemer

8/10 - Chubbins is a tight platformer that does a great job of capturing the coveted old-school feel. If you’re the type of gamer that’s always lusting for a challenge, then look no further. It may look cute on the outside, and it is fairly short, but Chubbins packs a mean punch. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Review copy provided by Dakhu Creations

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