Thanks to Blowfish Games for the review code
Title: Whipseey and the Lost Atlas
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 08/27/2019
In this action platformer, you take control of a young boy named Alex who’s been transformed and teleported to a magical world, where he must use his new powers of the whip to find his way back home and save this new world! Outside of the intro and ending, there’s zero story to speak of just like most retro games of the era.
From screenshots, Whipseey looks absolutely gorgeous, going with a colorful pixel art look that thrives in color, looking very reminiscent of the Kirby franchise. However, in motion the game is a bit disappointing in this aspect, as the game has some pretty barebones animations and uninteresting enemy designs. In fact, the main character has zero animation to speak of when he’s idle, which is kinda off considering how he has pretty good animations otherwise. Still, the colorful look of the stages helps this game feel very vibrant, along with some upbeat tunes.
Unfortunately, the game has one very irritating presentation-based problem, and that comes from the hitboxes of each enemy. Each enemy looks as if you could easily whip them or land right in front of them, especially the thinner ones, but for some weird reason their hit boxes are very off and square in nature, leading to some enemies seeming impossibly difficult to defeat due to poor placement, until you realize their hitboxes are bigger than what you may expect. I don’t know why the hitboxes in this game don’t match the sprites that well, but they do.
Whipseey is an action platformer where the main goal of each of the five stages is to make it to the boss and beat them with Whipseey’s whip. He can jump with B, attack with Y, and hover by holding the jump button in midair, and that’s the entirety of the game’s controls, with no new upgrades, abilities or actions to learn throughout the course of the adventure. Still, the controls are very tight and easy to use, which is good.
Going through the levels, you can defeat enemies in your way with the whip or by jumping on them to stun them first. Some enemies with spikes on their head cannot be stunned however, leading to whipping them as the only viable option. Defeating an enemy will reward you with some gems that can either increase your life bar or add up to a total of 100 for an extra life, and there really isn’t much need for them outside of extra endurance.
Truth be told, while Whipseey looks like a fun, simple game, it’s honestly not that engaging at all thanks to a few irritating issues. As mentioned before, the hitboxes in this game are very off, and all the stages tend to have a moment where an enemy occupies a small platform over a death pit. Near the end of the game when these enemies are spiked, it can lead to infuriating moments where one room can drain all your lives in no time before you realize that you can hit the enemy just a bit outside of their face due to their wonky hitboxes, which is pretty annoying design. Another irritation comes from moments where you swore you dodged an enemy only for their hitbox to knock you back into a pit regardless, which isn’t fun. Thankfully, the levels themselves are short and to the point so backtracking isn’t all that painful, but the bosses leave a lot to be desired, especially since they seem to get easier in difficulty the more you progress, despite no health upgrades of any sort.
After stage 5, the game just ends, and you get a 100% clear rating for just beating the game. No hidden exits, no secrets, no cool modes like boss attack or a speedrun mode, (which would make this game’s short length perfectly fine as it would add replay value and encourage new playthroughs) just a very short game with little substance or any point in returning to it. It’s pretty baffling that despite Kirby’s Dream Land being an equally short game, it also had a boatload of customizable options for difficulty purposes which made that game have more replay value than this modern take, which is very disappointing. Another factor in this isn’t really the dev’s fault, but it also comes from how some challenge-based achievements that reward you for playing the game without dying to bosses are just totally absent in the Switch version. Those achievements I feel might have at least added a tiny bit more to give levels a reason to be replayed, but even they don’t do much in the grand scale of things.
In conclusion, Whipseey is a very disappointing platformer that’s just way, way too short for its own good. It has some fun ideas, but with zero replay value, a short length and bad hit boxes, I honestly can’t recommend this platformer compared to the many others available on the eShop. You can play other shorter platformers for the same price or less, but they have more to encourage replays and are a lot better balanced overall. If some of the problematic rooms and hitboxes were tweaked, along with adding stuff like a time attack speedrun mode or boss rush, I feel this game would be a lot more worth the price, but for now I just can’t recommend this game.
I give Whipseey and the Lost Atlas a 5 out of 10.