"Do you believe in berry tales?"
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Celeste is one the best platformers on the Nintendo Switch, and I can’t think of a better praise to write than comparing Wunderling DX to it. As I was jumping, flying, running, crashing, falling, learning, and starting all over again, Celeste kept coming back to my mind. Even when the story of Wunderling DX is so far from Celeste’s, this tough-as-nails platformer is equally deserving of praise, along with a spot in any platformer fan’s game collection.
Carrot Man is attempting to rescue Pea Princess, and the witch Kohlrabi (accompanied by her cow assistant, Dash) wants to ensure that doesn’t happen. This is why Kohlrabi decides to give the power of jumping to the lowest of all of the kingdom’s subjects; a Wunderling.
In this platformer, the titular Wunderling walks automatically, and jumping is the only other means of movement at the game’s start. These controls are a fine example of “easy to understand, hard to master.” Overcoming all of the game’s challenges involves pressing one button at the exact right time, which certainly sounds simple, but trust that your skills will be put to the test.
Eventually, you’ll unlock new moves like dashing or flying, but they too are simple abilities. What’s not simple is reaching the goal for level. As you progress, levels become markedly trickier. Before you know it, you’ll have to combine all of Wunderling’s moves if you want any chance of escaping a stage alive.
There’s no doubt Wunderling DX’s devs are aware of how challenging the game is. Levels are built with repeated attempts in mind, keeping the experience very enjoyable no matter how many times you fail. The good news is that there’s no lives counter, so you can try a level as many times as you want. Furthermore, you respawn either at the beginning of the stage or at a checkpoint. Mastering a level and a path through it may take a lot of practice, but you’ll never get frustrated, thanks to the checkpoints and quick nature of each stage.
Along the way, you’ll have to collect little buds scattered through each level. Your Wunderling needs these buds to replenish health, as it’s constantly depleting while you run through a stage. If you miss too many buds and your health drops too low, you’ll faint. Many levels place these buds rather strategically, forcing you to plan a route where you don’t collect every bud right away, as you’ll need some later in order to survive. If you go all-out and collect every bud along the way, you’ll get a special mark in your profile once you complete a level. That said, even if you miss some on your first try, you can collect just what you missed on your next playthrough in order to get the profile mark.
Repeating stages until you finally piece together the perfect run is highly addictive. This “one more try” design philosophy is hard to get right, but the Wunderling DX team nailed it. You’re given plenty of incentive to keep trying, and any mistakes or failures you experience are your fault entirely. The controls are quite responsive and simple, and you’ll no doubt get into the groove with them. Once you hit your rhythm, the Wunderling DX experience feels so good! It’s almost like mixing sounds to compose a beautiful melody, or combining colors on a canvas to create a masterpiece. Wunderling DX’s challenge and level of satisfaction is almost indescribable.
As you’re running through stages, you’ll also happen upon plenty of secrets. You can find treasure chests that house cute cosmetics, cassette tapes that unlock music, letters that give you more insight into lore, and even secret exits that give access to new stages. Sometimes these special goodies can be seen right at the start of a level, but figuring out how to collect them becomes quite a challenge. Even if you miss a few secrets along the way, there’s no need to worry. Wunderling DX will show you how many secrets you missed in each stage after you complete it.
Levels within a world can be tackled in any order, so if you find yourself stuck, you can move to a different stage to advance. Wunderling DX also lets you customize controls in order to find what works best for you. In a game with this much challenge, you don’t want the controls getting in the way of you and victory. That said, you might not want to play this game for long spurts, as sometimes the challenge can become really overwhelming!
If you loved Celeste’s tough-but-fair platforming challenges, you should enjoy Wunderling DX just as much. Level design is outstanding, there’s secrets galore, the story is silly fun, and the gameplay is simple but highly addictive. If you’re still not sold on the game, there’s a free demo on the eShop that lets you play the first world. Give it a go just to make sure the game is for you.
As I said to start things off, I have no doubts that Wunderling DX is one of the best platformers on the Nintendo Switch. Hopefully you’ll feel the same way!
Christian’s a fan of long lists, Pokémon, SMT, Advance Wars, Xenoblade Chronicles, Splatoon, S/JRPGs, VNs...
When not solving mysteries in Ace Attorney or doing supports in Fire Emblem, he can be found doing math or learning languages.