2D platformers are the cornerstones of gaming. The 80s and 90s were full of iconic games where the character journeys through obstacles on a 2D plane. Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mega Man are three of the most iconic 2D games of all time. They inspired a number of modern titles from independent companies. More recent titles such as Celeste, Cuphead, and Shovel Knight continue to show how timeless 2D platformers are. Arriving from Blowfish Studios, Whipseey and The Lost Atlas is a 2D platformer with visuals reminiscent of Kirby and Starfy. 2D platforming is effective when the art style is fun to look at while the level design is top notch, two things Whipseey succeeds in. Whipseey and The Lost Atlas is a fun little platformer with genuine challenges, but is held back by its incredibly short length.
Like most 2D platformers, the player has the character go from left to right, or at times vice versa. The controls are simplistic, but Whipseey does come with a couple of special moves. Whipseey can use his whip, enabling the little pink character to destroy enemies. The whip can also be used as a swing in certain sections. Whipseey can also glide with his whip. The character can jump on enemies, stunning them. Whipseey has a health bar that can be replenished by blue gems randomly dropped by enemies. Collecting 100 fallen enemy items will result in an extra life.
The story begins when a boy named Alex is mysteriously transformed into a pink creature called Whipseey after finding a magical book. Thankfully, a princess named Alyssa arrives and gives Whipseey a whip. Now, Whipseey has to journey across five perilous levels.
The More Challenging Kirby
Don't be fooled by Whipseey's cute visuals. The game provides much more of a challenge than the usual Kirby game. However, the challenge always feels just right, never too difficult, while not being a walk in the park. This is because of the smart level design. The game prepares players by introducing a certain obstacle or enemy in one room, then begins to utilize it in challenging ways in the next room. For example, one room has players jump on one lone log, then the next room adds additional logs to work with. Each level has great, progressing difficulty.
Platforming in Whipseey is a lot of fun and can require careful strategy for a first playthrough. In level 1, Whipseey must carefully navigate his way underwater, avoiding death spikes and destroying enemies. It may seem frustrating at first, but it's actually fun platforming when you sit back and watch the enemy movements preparing when to make your move. Likewise, the sections where enemies stand still and fire projectiles at Whipseey provide intensity.
Fun In Every Level
Part of what makes Whipseey fun to play are the pleasant visuals. It may lack detail in comparison to games like Shovel Knight or Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, but it does a great job replicating the look of a classic NES-era title. One of the best areas was level 4, with its LEGO-like blocks. It's too bad there are only five levels in the game, because it would have been great to see what else the artist could have come up with. The soundtrack also sounds much like a classic title. The tunes are pleasant and complement the stages.
The final positive aspect of Whipseey and The Lost Atlas are the boss battles. At the end of every level, there is a boss fight with a colorful character. The battles provide a fun challenge and are a great way to cap off the levels. How many games will you have the opportunity to fight a large cactus with boxing gloves? The actual battles may not be as imaginative as in something like Freedom Planet, but they have a simplistic, challenging charm to them. It's a shame there wasn't a boss rush included in the game.
Too Short To Fully Appreciate
Now, the only real problem with Whipseey and The Lost Atlas is its short length. Skilled gamers will be able to get through the title in under 90-minutes. A second playthrough can be as short as 50-minutes. Granted, the game is only $5.99, so this is not as big of a deal as it would be for a standard priced title. So, in some sense, it's not as if the game isn't worth the money. However, it still feels like there's a lot missing. After completing the last level, it feels like almost half the game is missing. The game needed, at a bare minimum, two more levels to feel complete. There are not even collectibles, thus lacking replay value unless one is a speedrunner.
It's a shame there isn't too much content in Whipseey. The game has all the right things for a fantastic experience. The level design is on point, the boss battles are fun, and it's genuinely challenging. Blowfish Studios has something good here, so hopefully, a followup game that expands on everything comes in the future. There is a lot of potential here for something that can rival the best 2D platformers.
Worth The $6, But Still Feels Incomplete
Whipseey and The Lost Atlas is a welcoming platformer. The levels are challenging, but never overly difficult. Whipseey himself has a couple of fun abilities that are easy to master. There are a number of memorable sections in the game, as well as good boss battles. Sadly, the game feels incomplete. The five levels will go by pretty quickly if you've been playing these types of games for a long time. Because of its short length, it can't get an amazing score. But, for those who enjoy a classic platformer, it's certainly worth the $5.99.
3.5 Out Of 5 stars
A review copy of Whipseey and The Lost Atlas was provided to TheGamer for this review. Whipseey and The Lost Atlas is available now for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.