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THE GRUMPY REAPER (Wii U eShop)
Published by: EnjoyUp Games
EU Release: 2016-03-03 Price: 4,99€
NA Release: 2016-03-10 Price: $4.99
Tested: EU - PAL Version
The Grumpy Reaper is a graveyard lawnmower action game with 40 stages and four-directional arcade gameplay. The goal of each isometric stage is to run around a graveyard with a lawnmower and cut all patches of grass. Health draining enemies like zombies that chase you on eye contact, ghosts that follow their own patterns, or bats that fly randomly are the main creatures you'll meet on your job. The game explains new elements like enemies, items, and controls as you play. This is only good the first time around but gets a little annoying when repeating levels because it interrupts gameplay every time. Divided into four chapters with 10 stages, you can select any stage you've unlocked from the level select screen or go to the upgrade shop to make your gardener life easier.
Clearing stages, cutting rare flowers and destroying enemies let you earn coins. 200 coins will automatically be changed into 1 key. Three keys can also be obtained per stage by doing missions that are always the same: Beat the stage, Beat the time, Beat all enemies. You can only do them once however and an icon flashes up on the level select screen for every mission you accomplished. Since you will be needing a ton of keys to unlock important stuff like health points, better lawnmower transformations, more fuel, a brighter light in the night stages, more power-up time, and a radar that shows you where to find grass patches and power-ups, you will have to repeat stages to find more money because at one point it's the only chance to obtain more keys.
As the levels get harder - except for the last world (stages 31-40) which is oddly enough relatively easy - you wanna minimize chances of dying and restarting a stage after taking two hits, so you obviously want to save those keys to push your health points and other useful things to the max, which is unfortunately a repetitive grind (beating the levels that net you the most money over and over again). To make this more troublesome you can easily waste 2 keys to fill up your fuel (so that you can transform into the reaper for a few seconds and run over enemies), or to fill up a health point. These functions are tied to the main A and B buttons, and it's very easy to just waste 2 keys at once by accidentally pressing one of those buttons. My advice: Don't press those buttons or you'll never have enough keys to get significantly stronger. Also, ten keys can be used to continue after you have died. This is an even bigger waste, unless you already have all the good upgrades - but by that point you most likely have already completed the whole game.
Now to the worst part: This game is extremely prone to crashing, so one big warning here! That's the sole major reason why I simply can't recommend this game. It crashed the Wii U 45 minutes into the game, it crashed the Wii U 5 minutes into the game, and it loves to crash the Wii U when beating a level (however the game still manages to autosave). It crashed every single time I played the game and that was 12 times. Which is inexcusable in my opinion. Especially in a game with such simple mechanics. Every time it crashes you have to go to your console to hold the power button down for a few seconds. The gameplay could be quite solid so easily, but this version had no one playtesting it. Crashing is bad already, but there's a series of graphical glitches where the picture of world 4 just disappears forever and leaves a blank space and menu icons slowly degenerating. This all comes spiced with unclean programming, like music hiccups in the title screen (it starts for a second, then it starts again) and a stupid glitch that doesn't allow you to resume a paused game after having posted to Miiverse. The cherry on top is that a couple of stages are doubled. Stages 30 and 33 for example look and play exactly the same!
Having mediocre audiovisuals with a design that is just passable, and low-poly characters/objects, it looks like a Wiiware or even N64 game. The music is decent enough, it fits the comic style and a couple more tracks would have been nice. It's a shame that there's no ending - finishing the game sends you right back to the title screen.
Grumpy Reaper could have been a solid title for 5 bucks. There's an ok amount of variety and content and good simple oldschool-gameplay that could provide a few hours of fun if done right. But here it's not done right. It's done pretty bad. The Grumpy Reaper sends a message that sounds like "I'm already dead. Undead. Don't play me! It hurts!" *CRASH*
Written by SKTTR on 16th March 2016.
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