Title: Whipseey and the Lost Atlas
Available On: Switch, PS4, Steam
Developer: Daniel. A. Ramirez
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Version Tested: Switch
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
For a budget title that is under $6, Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is a fun little platformer. You can blow through it in around two hours and while it won’t leave a lasting impression the graphics are colorful and it’s a real compliment to the Kirby series that Daniel. A Ramirez (the developer) decided to base his title off that franchise. However, frustrating gameplay and predictable design choices mean that Whipseey and the Lost Atlas never quite reaches its potential.
The game starts with static images of a young boy reading an old book when he suddenly gets sucked in to the pages and is turned into a pink, Kirby like creature. That’s all we’re given in terms of story, and even by the end of the game, there’s no text dialogue or voice acting. Of course, for such a budget title made by one man, this is to be expected and doesn’t detract or really add to the experience. Your a little pink creature and you need to work through the linear levels killing enemies and progressing. That’s all you really need to know.
Short But Sweet?
There are five stages in Whipseey and the Lost Atlas each with its own theme. For example, there’s a forest world, a desert world, an ice world. The game ends with a castle level that’s filled with lava similar to those found in the Super Mario Bros. series. The diversity of environments make each stage feel fresh and enemies are also unique to each stage. However, the game is so linear and you can’t exactly go off the beaten track in any of the levels. In other words, you’ve got your set path and there are no secrets.
The game having no secrets wouldn’t be such a big deal if platforming was fun and precise, which for the most part it is. The titular character Whipseey can jump (single jump, not a double jump) and use a whip-like appendage to attack enemies. Jumping is tight and the whip is satisfying, but there are zero upgrades or power-ups in the game. Plus the gameplay can get frustrating. Despite the cute Kirby-like aesthetic Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is hard, but mainly due to annoying enemy placements and pitfall locations. It’s still fun to play, and I’d even say the controls are less floaty and more accurate than a ‘real’ Kirby game.
The bosses at the end of each stage look really cool and are satisfying to fight against. Each has around three attacks that change as you progress during a fight. The final boss was a wizard-like enemy that really reminded me of the wizrobes from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Enemy diversity, in general, is ok, but none are impressive and the art style doesn’t really excel in any particular way.
The game uses an 8-bit art design throughout the adventure with no special effects that you might see in a game like Shovel Knight. The graphics do look good, and I’m glad the developers chose a pixel art design choice rather than ‘hand-drawn’ graphics that look like a cheap flash game. Music is another area that is really mediocre, none of the tunes will stay with you and sound effects are serviceable but don’t really add any level of immersion to the experience.
Bare Bones experience?
Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is a bare-bones experience that doesn’t include in-game achievements or any upgrades/secrets. When you defeat enemies in the game they drop gems which give you another life once you collect 100. I feel the gems could have been used for something more interesting, and spare lives could have been a pick-up you find when exploring levels. Speaking of spare lives, each time you die, the player will respawn on the screen they died on. But once you run out of lives (you start with 5) you’re sent all the way back to the beginning of the stage. This can be frustrating, but for a game that’s so short it does lengthen the experience and it’s a great feeling when you finally make that impossible jump or kill the end of stage boss.
Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is a solid experience for the price and its positives are definitely tight whipping mechanics and non-floaty controls. Bad hit-detection in platformer’s or metroidvania’s ruin the gameplay for me, and Whipseey and the Lost Atlas certainly doesn’t suffer from that. I really hope the developers decide to build on this template and release a more ambitious title in the future.
Verdict: Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is a simple 8-bit platformer that’s presented modestly but is built on solid mechanics and gameplay. A lack of secrets and upgrades are a bit of a letdown, but if you need a platforming fix and are low on funds you could do a lot worse than this title. Kirby similarities are mainly aesthetic as the game does actually get difficult but not in a way that makes you think the controls are broken. Overall a solid title.
- Nice Art Style
- Tight Gameplay/Controls
- Really Short Experience
- No Secrets, Upgrades or Power-ups