A while ago, I did an article covering Kickstarter campaigns that looked interesting and had some promise. One of those articles had a campaign for what became Super Ubie Land; a fun, retro, side-scrolling platformer type of game reminiscent to Super Mario games and even more recently, to Super Meat Boy.
The game has some illustrated cutscenes to lay out a pretty basic story and push you into having to jump through levels in order to fix your broken ship. Nothing terribly exciting or groundbreaking, but then again, you probably aren’t picking up a platformer for the story. It definitely has a cool art direction, even if you kinda get the feeling that you’ve seen it all before.
That is actually one of the problems that I have with Super Ubie Land. While playing, I got the feeling that they got a little too much inspiration from a few other games. One thing that stood out in particular, was how the birds look almost exactly like something from Angry Birds.
The thing that got under my skin the most was the difficulty. Don’t get me wrong, I like a difficult game with tight controls regardless of what I call it as I flip my desk over. You can tell they got a lot of inspiration from the difficulty of Super Meat Boy, which is a great example of how to do it right. One of the problems is that they took the difficulty and tried to blend it with a traditional Mario game; the result of which ends up resetting the whole world’s progress when you lose your relatively small number of lives. There is no saving, there is no throwing yourself at the level repeatedly until you get it, there is just frustration and some rage-quitting when you have to start that world all over again. The other problem is that the difficulty often feels a little cheap with enemies right along an edge that you need to get up on, almost requiring you to run into them or enemies that you have to jump on perfectly to get to the next platform. Simply put, the difficulty curve is a little too steep at times and they punish you pretty severely for failing, which ruins the experience in the long run.
Any platformer is judged mainly on its controls and level design and Super Ubie Land is pretty good even if the jumps feel a little inconsistent at times. You are given a pretty simple control scheme to start with: left, right, and jump (hit it twice for a double jump and hold to float with a balloon). You can jump up edges by hitting the jump button repeatedly along a ledge, but there are very few instances where you have to do this so it feels a little underutilized in the level design. The levels are pretty basic and have a common theme in each world which is, again, very reminiscent of a Super Mario game. The illustration and art direction make them far more interesting than they probably would be otherwise.
It is still a fun game to play, but the lack of its own identity and some polish left me wanting a little more from it. Jumping from Super Ubie Land to Super Meat Boy, the difference was pretty drastic and only helped reiterate my feelings. The team at Notion Games are in production to bring the game to Wii U and I’m hoping that they are able to fix some of the polish concerns that I have and help turn it into a really awesome game that deserves some fame of its own.
[+Great art style] [+Tight controls] [-Copies a little too heavily from other games] [-Jumps are inconsistent at times] [-Severe death penalty]