Armillo is a timed-exclusive indie title for the Wii U that focuses on the adventures of an Armadillo, in space. The game play itself is a mishmash of platforming, puzzles, and action.
Again, the first thing people will notice about any game is how it looks. It’s colorful and cartoony, so it fits right in on the Wii U, but the graphics themselves are at a level that will remind you of past console generations. While Armillo won’t impress anyone graphically, its visuals have a certain charm to them that make the game appealing. The 3D and 2D level environments are varied, never feeling exactly the same from world to world.
The music in Armillo is pretty good and fits the style of the game very well. It shifts from modern to retro depending on the type of stage you’re playing. You’ll find yourself moving to the music, or if you’re like me, turning up the volume to enjoy while doing other things tasks (like writing reviews).
The game play is where I start to take issue with Armillo. It tries to do too much, as if it can’t decide if it wants to be open for exploration or all about speed. Switching back and forth between the two hurts the flow of the game. The narrow, walled in passage ways act as rails in the normal dimension, removing a lot of freedom and adding a lot of sections that, essentially, play themselves. It goes against the desire to freely explore those character filled worlds. Some ill advised puzzle sections further dampen the game play. Puzzles are nice, but when they consist of one path mazes that offer no danger or challenge, all they do is slow the game down for no reason. Finally, the 2D worlds are great but hampered by the decision to make the double jump tied to Armillo’s boost meter. Having to stop for a moment while the meter refills before I can continue is agonizing after the fluid platforming of a game like Shovel Knight.
That being said, the game play is still pretty solid overall. Aside from some frame rate hiccups at odd places, the rest of the game has nothing wrong with it. The simple two button control scheme does the game well as Armillo handles smoothly and is very responsive. The story is simple and cheesy, ending left me dumbfounded with it’s awesomely bad final confrontation. Afterwards all I could do was laugh at how great it was.
The length of the story mode is very short, I powered through it in a few hours. If you aren’t a completionist this title won’t last very long. If you do like completing tasks and going for 100%, its life span is notably longer. Unlocking full upgrades, finding all critters, beating the bonus worlds and obtaining every gold medals can easily double your play time or more, depending on your level of skill.
-Colorful and charming.
-Game play is indecisive.
-2D world double jump.**
Hopefully Armillo goes on to spawn a sequel that works out the kinks of this first venture. It has a lot of potential to be a great series. As it stands now, Armillo is not an essential title, but it is a fun game that is worth the six dollars it currently goes for.
**This is not a contradiction. The controls in the 2D world are just as solid as the rest of the game. The double jump works as intended, I just think it was a poor decision to implement it the way they did.