In the world of mobile games, one game stood above all others earning Apple’s Game of the Year award in 2013. Fast-forward two years, add some multiplayer, new levels and port it to the Wii U (among other systems) and you get Badland: Game of the Year Edition.
What you need to know
Badland is a side scrolling puzzle game with a very simple, single button control. You play as a small “clone” that has been tasked with flying from one pipe on the left to another pipe on the far right. In between these pipes are obstacles like gears, bombs, lasers, falling boulders and the ever approaching left side of the screen that want to kill you. Navigate them by gaining power-ups that make you multiply into a flying horde, grow, shrink, slow time or speed it up and save your clone!
I absolutely love how this game looks! It’s actually the main reason I took the job of reviewing it. The world that was created for this game is such a mixture of bright and vibrant colors contrasted by the dark and grim clones and obstacles that it just looks incredible on my HDTV!
Rarely Is It Better To Touch
In the same way that an iOS game like Jetpack Joyride would have you hold the screen to move forward and gain altitude, you control a “clone” in Badland by holding A. You also have the ability to pan your clone left and right with the analog stick but this is completely unnecessary considering that you’re constantly moving forward as you hold A. It just felt way out of place on my Wii U and would’ve probably been better on my iPhone.
One of the new features in this Game of the Year Edition is a Multiplayer mode. My wife and I sat down to play some Co-Op and after about thirty minutes, she said, “I’m not having fun, can we play something else?” As I asked her to explain her dislike, she told me that it was too frustrating for her to keep up with her clone on the TV. I had to agree, the only thing differentiating our clones were that her eyes were yellow and mine were orange. That mixed in with the constantly moving mess of obstacles on screen was more than difficult for one person to keep track of, let alone two.
With games like VVVVVV and 1,001 Spikes being some of my favorite games of all time, I would say I’m ok with dying a lot. However, dying a lot in Badland never motivated me to try harder or give me the push I needed for ‘just one more go’. Every death I experienced felt more like the game’s fault for something like not placing a power-up properly before an obstacle or forcing my clone into a trap that I could only know was a trap after dying in it. I feel the game’s developers know these are a problem because there are an insane number of checkpoints through each level that place you seconds before a death so you can try again with ease but at no point teach you how to avoid said obstacle. I frequently felt like I lucked my way through rather than skillfully worked my way through each level.
Though the world of Badland is something I feel everyone should take a look at, I don’t believe the Wii U is the system to do it on. This game was clearly designed for a mobile device and should’ve stayed there. The new levels are nice but feel as if they could’ve been additions on my iPhone and the multiplayer didn’t need to happen.