Woodle Tree Adventures
Developer: Chubby Pixel
Publisher: Chubby Pixel
Release Date: 21 December 2017 (US) / 23 December 2017 (UK)
Price: $4.99 / £4.49
Reviewed By Bryan Auer
The Nintendo Switch, in under 12 months, has already established itself as a platform where small, independant dev teams can easily distribute their ideas. This has been quite the year for success stories on that front. Gone are the days of the Wii, where shovelware reigned supreme. Nintendo’s eShop, more and more, is being populated by passion projects over the old, awful, pumped out garbage. As far as choice, this is great news for consumers, but as far as choosing, it will become harder to decide which games are worth paying for. Woodle Tree Adventures might not be one of those games.
Woodle Tree Adventures is a 3D platformer, but for a less discerning audience. Not to say that children have lower standards, but this feels like “Baby’s First Platformer”. Maybe that’s not fair, as this game was basically made by one person, but it’s very simplistic. You are given the task of collecting water drops in order to bring life back to… wherever you come from. It’s not very clear, and your Deku Tree stand-in of a dad has nothing to say on the subject.
Baby's first platformer
Your adventure begins as a giant tree births you into existence, makes you a house, and gives you a rucksack (or backpack, for our less cultural readers, i.e. Americans) and a leaf. The rucksack is a storage unit for the collectables, and the leaf is your weapon… yes, your weapon. Your house also acts as your hub world, as all levels, bonus levels, and weapon upgrades can be found here.
It’s a bit tough to understand, however, how this whole thing works. The dialogue with the “Deku Tree” is almost literally the only dialogue you will get in the entire game. Your tree Dad tells you a number of things, all of them cryptic (seriously, without context, it’s tough to suss out what’s happening).
When you’re dropped into the first level, your eye is drawn to a floating, rotating piece of fruit. These are your collectable items. They are strewn about the area on various stationary and moving platforms, behind waterfalls, and inside little huts. You’ll find out later that the fruit is used to enhance your leaf. For now, you collect them because it’s a video game, and that’s what you do in video games.
Also in the level are bad guys, and this is where your leaf comes in. You hit them with it, but the hit box is... strange, or really inconsistent. The same goes for your own hit box. Sometimes you walk away unscathed, sometimes an enemy will take you out, and sometimes you both die. It’s a little weird. When you get your first leaf upgrade after 200 fruit, it comes with a projectile ability. This fixes the problem for the most part.
Hidden in each level are three water drops, which you need to collect and place in three pedestals that are grouped together in a corner of the stage. When you have done so, the next level will be unlocked. Actually, to say that they are hidden is a bit of an overstatement. If you zoom out, you can usally see the placement of all three drops, and, if you wanted to, head straight for them. With the exception of the bonus levels, you don’t really need the most of the fruit. The first leaf upgrade is more than sufficient to get you through the rest of the game.
Flat but competent
Now that the basics are out of the way, there is the issue of execution. For a game made by one person, it’s surprisingly competent, but flat and unenjoyable. It feels like a throwback to a 90’s 3D platformer, but a very barebones one. There is one type of collectable that ultimately doesn’t matter, and, like many old 3D games, the camera is a joke. You can zoom in and out, but there is no option to rotate it at will.
One of the most glaring problems is lack of progression, in regards to the mechanics. Each level is essentially just a palette swap of the others. There is nothing special about them, no evolution of ideas, just more platforming. The levels don’t try to teach you anything or attempt to push your skills. There is just more fruit to find. Woodle Tree has an ice level, but the only difference is that it takes longer for you to stop walking. It does have a snowman that makes a little shimmy when you run into it, which is probably the most charming thing in this game.
For all of the criticisms, it’s still quite competent. The colors are vibrant, the controls are predictable and solid. The music is lacking, but the whole thing is adorable. It’s a good primer for the genre, and a cheap one at that. Yes, there are better 3D Platformers out there, but if you have a young child and want to introduce them to the style, this isn’t a bad start.
Pros & Cons
+ Solid controls
+ Cheap price point
- Lacks depth
- Will only appeal to children
- Very short