By Josh Speer / October 3rd, 2019
|Title||Whipseey and the Lost Atlas|
|Developer||Daniel A. Ramirez|
|Release Date||August 27th, 2019|
|Platform||PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone – Mild Fantasy Violence|
Had I known how short Whipseey and the Lost Atlas was, I would have reviewed it when it originally released. As it was, I didn’t know, and given the proximity of the release date to PAX West, I was hesitant to get started without knowing how long the adventure was. Thankfully, playing Whipseey at PAX West helped motivate me to review it, since I found it charming and surprisingly challenging. I also noted in my PAX coverage that Whipseey is undeniably inspired by Kirby. There’s also some inspiration from other noteworthy NES series, such as Mario and Castlevania. The question then, is whether the game was able to exceed those inspirations, or whether it fell flat.
Whipseey and the Lost Atlas starts when a young, unnamed boy discovers a magical atlas. He opens it up and is teleported into a strange world, where he is transformed into a pink creature. Then a princess or queen gives him a magical whip, and he’s off to the races. I wish I could elaborate more on the story, cause there’s a lot of charm in the presentation, but there’s absolutely no written dialogue anywhere. So I was left to wonder about things as I played. Such as, what’s the name of the young man transported into a magical realm? Where did he find the book? Why did the princess just have a whip lying around to reward him with? What’s the goal of his adventure? Not that any of this is life or death, but a little more story would have gone a long way to making Whipseey feel more well rounded.
Though the comparisons between Whipseey and the Kirby series are pretty unavoidable, ranging from the name of the main characters to foe designs to even the general cutesy aesthetic, thankfully I can say Whipseey mostly stands on its own two feet. One reason for that is that, despite looking like a Kirby clone with a rad hairdo, our hero controls very differently. He can’t eat enemies and take their powers, nor can he puff up to hover in the air. All our hero has at his disposal is the whip he was given. It’s used for both offense and navigation, such as whipping foes, swinging from poles and hovering slowly downwards. That instantly makes the game feel unique. Another way Whipseey is different is that it’s much more challenging than Kirby (not counting modes like Boss Rush from that series).
Perhaps this is due to the inspiration from other NES game series, but Whipseey can be quite difficult at times. It doesn’t start that way, but the farther you get, the more they require pitch perfect platforming to proceed. A good example is in the desert stage. There are sections where foes wearing sombreros will toss Molotov cocktails at you (yes, you heard that right). The tricky thing is, you can’t jump on them, since the arc of their cocktails always hits you, knocking you to your death in a pit. And you can’t just whip them from a distance, since they’re placed sufficiently far away. What the game requires of you is to leap in mid air towards them, whip them right as you get close, and land on their platforms. Suffice to say, this was rather a chore, and keep in mind I’m generally great at platformers. Thankfully the whole game isn’t this hardcore, but in general I’d say it’s a good plan not to expect the same challenge level as you would in your average Kirby adventure.
I mostly appreciated the difficulty in Whipseey, since it made me have to work harder to win. Even the bosses, of which there are five, one for each world, are sufficiently difficult that you might not beat them on your first try. There’s a good variety of them, ranging from a jellyfish to a spiny turtle creature to a cactus with boxing gloves to a jack in the box to a necromancer. You’ll also need to be precise and careful as you platform, since making the wrong move usually ends up with your hero dying. Luckily, every enemy you defeat gives you gems that will grant you a new life when you collect 100. Yes, this is a very old school game, and I’m okay with that.
Even though I enjoyed the platforming in the game, I do wish there was more to it. Things like introducing new whip mechanics or power ups would have made the experience far more robust. As it is, all you do is make your way through each room until you have beaten all the bosses and get sent back home. That’s it, no bonus items or additional modes, meaning that Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is pretty barebones. I saw all the game had to offer in less than 2 hours, and while I try not to attach specific time values to my enjoyment, I wanted to spend more time in this universe.
Visually, I’m still quite impressed with Whipseey. It’s charming pixelated goodness, and each and every foe is carefully rendered and bursting with personality. This goes double for the boss characters, who are very well animated. The stages all look distinct and candy coated, which is great. The only issue I had with the graphics were areas where things obviously weren’t accounted for. An example is large enemies who race up and down hills at you, but their feet never directly touch the diagonal planes they walk on. Another example is when you’re swimming and the top part of Whipseey’s head is cut off. It’s not a big deal, but it makes the game look less polished. As far as the music and sound effects, both are rather muted. That’s not the same as bad, they’re just kind of uneventful and laid back. Which kind of works for the game, I suppose, but I wish it had more interesting and bombastic tracks.
Altogether, Whipseey and the Lost Atlas isn’t a bad game. For a first effort, it has its share of charm and challenge. It just doesn’t really succeed in being anything more than an average game. That said, for $5.99 you probably get your money’s worth. I hope that Daniel Ramirez and Blowfish Studios collaborate again on an upgraded sequel, since I feel the good outweighs the bad here. If you want a simple platformer, then look no further. But hardcore platformer enthusiasts won’t find a lot to keep them busy.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Blowfish StudiosDaniel A. RamirezhardKirbyNESoprainfallReviewshortWhipseey and the Lost Atlas