Cocoto Platform Jumper
WiiWare releases in general tend to be something of a mixed bag, arguably more so than downloadable games on PS3 and Xbox 360. Pound-for-pound, there is more dross cluttering up WiiWare shelves than perhaps we should rightfully expect from a company with such an illustrious history, especially when they are able to cherry-pick releases from third-party developers as well. Cocoto Platform Jumper is a relatively obscure game (I think you can guess in which genre) initially released for the PS2 five years ago, which has been ported to numerous systems since. So, can it do enough to distinguish itself from the already crowded WiiWare selection and separate you from your 700 Nintendo Points?
Although something of an unknown quantity to many gamers, Cocoto games are not without their fans. The series has produced kart racers, sports and minigames titles as well as the core platforming original, although whether this is due to demand from rabid Cocoto enthusiasts or just Neko Entertainment’s attempt at jumping on the Spyro/Crash/generic-cutesy-mascot-character bandwagon is up for debate. Not heard of the developers? Then perhaps you’ve never played Crazy Frog Racer. What’s that? Oh, you haven’t…
Cocoto Platform Jumper is a competent enough platformer in itself, but everything feels generic in the extreme. Collect apples for health and gems for points? Check. Ability to double-jump? Check. Projectile attack? Check. The enemies on the first few levels are primarily grey lumps with arms and legs, which does not suggest that much of the developer’s budget was spent in the design department. And if someone could please explain to me exactly how icy floors fit into the volcano levels I’d be eternally thankful. Why, it’s almost as if the developers couldn’t be bothered to come up with anything more original than slippery platforms. Cocoto himself essentially looks like a rejected concept for Spyro. He’s a wee red demon who can fire what looks like a Batarang at his enemies, and is sort of cute in a rather bland way. So far, so “ho-hum”.
That being said, there are some more interesting touches. Each stage takes place on a 3D circle, with the ultimate aim being to reach the top of the level before the time limit runs out, by climbing onto platforms above you. It makes a nice change from side-scrolling stages at least. To reach the top platform, Cocoto must use his ability to fire semi-circular bridges in front of him. Walking on these allows him to reach platforms that jumping does not. The bridges appear to be made of solid magma, although lack of graphical fidelity instead gives the impression of Cocoto being able to regurgitate large dog turds at will. Jumping on the bridges causes them to disintegrate, taking out any enemies beneath them. Cocoto can fire two bridges in a row, before firing a third causes the first one to collapse.
If this premise sounds familiar to older gamers out there, that’s because it’s been lifted wholesale from Rainbow Islands, the sequel to Bubble Bobble. CPJ lacks the charm and invention of Taito’s 1980’s classic, but if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best. Adding something new into the mix would’ve been nice, but at least it’s thievery with some pedigree.
Aside from its common or garden variety of mundanity, CPJ suffers from being extremely repetitive. Initially it’s relatively enjoyable to play, but after four or five levels of doing exactly the same thing, boredom soon sets in. Even the occasional boss battle does nothing to alleviate the monotonous gameplay, and in fact only serves to make things worse. Mediocrity abounds in these encounters, as the bosses follow the worst kind of clichéd patterns that should’ve been eradicated from gaming even at the time of CPJ’s original release in 2004. Played five years on, on a system that plays host to Super Mario Galaxy, and the “adventures” of Cocoto feel distinctly old-hat.
Imprecise controls make reaching moving platforms a hit and miss affair, especially when the double-jump required to land on them leaves your intended target invisible off the bottom of the screen. You really shouldn’t have to guess where you’re supposed to be landing. The controls make use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, with movement handled by the Nunchuk’s analogue stick, Z triggering projectile attacks, A to jump and 1 to create bridges.
Aside from the main single-player mode, there are also two multiplayer games to try, Race and Battle. These do exactly what they say on the tin, and are even more perfunctory and uninspired than the single-player game. Race is fun for a few minutes as you and a friend pick a funny-looking demon-thing each and try to reach the top of the level first before the tide reaches you. The kindest thing to be said about Battle mode is that it’s utterly pointless, and adds about two minutes of dull gameplay.
Cocoto Platform Jumper simply reeks of average, and for the equivalent of £4.90 GBP (or $7 USD/€7) you could pick up a decent GameCube title. It’s not an abominable game, and is moderately entertaining in short bursts. It’s just that there are so many better alternatives out there that you’d be hard pressed to find a reason to pick this out of the bunch.