Format reviewed: Wii U eShop
Other formats available: Steam, Amazon Fire TV
Developer: Mobot Studios
Publisher: Mobot Studios
Website: Paper Monsters Recut
Paper Monsters was released in its original version on iOS and Google Play in 2013, but now has been updated in its Recut version for the WiiU. Paperland has been attacked and all the cute and colourful paper monsters have been transformed into savage mindless dinosaurs intent on attacking your paper robotness. It’s up to you to take down the evil mastermind, whatever his reasons are for such a despicable attack on helpless creatures are never explained, and restore Paperland to its former over the top cuteness.
You play as a paper/cardboard cut-out robot throughout a game that has an incredibly paper-thin plotline. This paper-thinness encompasses the entirety of the game, but underlying this thin veneer is a game with some very solid platform mechanics, at least for the majority of the experience. Unfortunately, with no option for any form of co-op play, this is a solitary experience.
This game doesn’t require a great plot, just as Mario games don’t. The only thing that should matter in a platform game such as this is the mechanics that the game is built around, and Paper Monsters Recut doesn’t disappoint with its control of the main protagonist and his jumping abilities. All moves are open to you from the very beginning, Left Analogue stick for movement, Y allows you to run (well, move a little faster), and B jump (tap twice for a handy double jump that sees your robot spin for extra height). That’s it. No seriously, that’s it. There are no more unlockables to your platforming abilities, outside of transformations later on in the game, and I’ll talk about them later.
It all looks very nice in its choice of aesthetic, similar to Paper Mario Games, but with more reality and less cartoon graphics. A little dark in places due to some levels occurring at night, but otherwise bright, colourful and very childlike. The vast majority of the game runs fluidly, but on a number of occasions when the levels are multi-planed and throwing around more enemies than usual the frame rate shudders and slows down to a near game breaking experience. This only ever happened twice to me throughout my 100% completion (actually 99% as a glitch that doesn’t register one pick-up won’t allow for the full statistic), that’s 4 and a half hours of play. The music throughout reinforces the fact that this game is basically built for a family experience, especially aimed at the younger of the family unit. The tunes are light hearted, Saturday morning cartoon and cute throughout most of the game.
Paperland acts as the central hub where you’ll be able to select and enter into any level that will allow you access. Access is restricted by collection of Golden Paperclips, three to find within any level. Other collectables include Golden Buttons, these allow access to three bonus endless-runner type games, and normal buttons, collect 100 of these for an extra life. There are six themed worlds to explore that include Paper, Ice, Desert, Halloween City, Mines and Water. Throw in a few lava levels toward the end of the game and all platform themed tick boxes are checked.
The game is easily played through. Level design is simplistic, but functional. Most enemies only require one jump upon their heads to be dispatched, and others like snakes need to be avoided. Unfortunately the game doesn’t tell you which enemy can and can’t be killed by jumping on it. Some are easy to distinguish with spikes announcing damage for badly timed attacks, but others are just trial and error. But, this doesn’t matter as you’ll start each level with 4 hearts and due to Paper Monsters Recut’s biggest disappointment, the lack of challenge throughout, you‘ll rarely find yourself facing a level, or checkpoint, restart. The bosses throughout are so easy that they require no thought other than for you to attack and win. The last two levels do start to up the difficulty to a rather more acceptable level, but just as they start they are over.
One thing to mention that annoyed me too often not to mention was the amount of times I was looking for a hidden collectable, searching every corner of every level, and finding that I got stuck on a piece of scenery. Unable to dislodge yourself from a lantern or wall means a level restart is required.
Transformations to your paper robot and vehicular runner-type levels add a nice variety to the usual plod throughout, but less than half of these are any fun. The endless runner bonus mini-games, and levels that incorporate this type of gameplay, are terrible. Jump in a mine cart, DK-style, and get bored to death due to the ease with which things can be jumped over. Actually, this ease of gameplay affects the whole of Paper Monster Recut, but is most felt during these badly controlled, awkwardly jumping running sections. It’s such a let down as the rest of the game feels so tight. The transformations,such as the helicopter, however, are well done, especially the submarine torpedo sections, just remember to hold the Y button to speed things up a little. My favourite are the space levels that adds a rechargeable rocket-pack, adding verticality, and a laser to your arsenal.
The GamePad is the only method of controller input that this game recognises, but all menu screens allow for touch input. When in the Paperland hub overworld, the GamePad displays a handy level select list, which can be scrolled through. Tap on the World you wish to go to and hey presto instant travel. Another bonus happens when you press the - (Select) button, and a crisp and clean display of the game is shown and ready to be played on the GamePad itself.
Apart from some infrequent and minor glitching, a complete lack of challenge, and some awful runner-type levels, Paper Monsters Recut is a game that offers a short, but solid no thrills platform experience. Give this to your younger children and they would be delighted by its cuteness and accessibility. Give this to a 13-year old, and have the controller thrown back in your face with a demand for something more grown-up. This is at heart a children’s game, but a fun and well-made one for the majority of its campaign.
Review by Lee Davis for Nintendo: Review.