Last year, one of the first games I reviewed for NintendoFever was Puzzle Monkeys, an indie title for the Wii U eShop, and the first from developer Log Games. It was an okay puzzle game, and at the end of the review I had mentioned that I hope they continue to make games so I can see how the studio matures and what they can come up with next.
Well, Log Games has a new game out now on the Wii U eShop, and we’re going dumpster diving to find it.
Not because the game is bad or anything. Because the game is called Epic Dumpster Bear, and it’s about as off the wall as you’d expect from the title.
You play a bear. An Epic Dumpster Bear apparently, so let’s call him Dave. All Dave wants to do is fight the corrupt establishment
like a true American that took his forest away from him. Apparently in order to do so, Dave must travel across many different themed areas, jump on bumpers, launch off springs, and jump on other animals that all want to eat or poop on you.
I’m not making any of this up. Drones shoot at you, and even sometimes carry cows (or whatever the world’s main animal is) and drop them on you; birds fly overhead and poop on you, crocodiles pop out of barrels and try to bite you while you jump…and this is all just from the first world! Dave seems to have no friends in the animal kingdom, and that doesn’t matter to him – he’ll jump on anything and everything (except the alligators) if it means getting revenge for his forest.
The game is a true platformer that has you jumping over blocks, moving objects, down slides and making you master hi-jumping off bouncy bumper balls and taking advantage of springs for speed boosts. If you make a mistake, fret not; each level has one checkpoint…inside a dumpster, of course! Each stage has a bunch of coins you can collect and use to unlock bonus stages, but there’s also three red coins in each level that usually require a bit of trickery and/or skill to nab. Sometimes you’ll find yourself wall-jumping to grab one, other times you have to bounce off a series of enemies. Nothing is super difficult to the point where you’re going to feel like it’s impossible to get without sheer luck, but it’s challenging enough that when you clear a level with all three coins, you want to pat yourself on the back.
You end each stage swan-diving (bear diving?) onto a target. Some times it’s a straight drop, and other times you get to use a bumper ball to aim for the center. The closer you get, the more points you earn out of a maximum 100: each hundred points will earn you a Miiverse stamp, which are all bear-related of course. Your records are also tallied by salmons, with two to earn per stage – one for winning and one for collecting the 3 red coins. This ending segment is full of silliness, with a drumroll to motivate you to hit the target, confetti and rock music.
That’s an important part of this game and this review, the music…in my Puzzle Monkeys review, I lamented about the lack of music options and how I spent most of the time playing with the sound off. The whole game this time around in Epic Dumpster Bear is backed by sweet 80’s-style rock and metal licks, making Dave seem that more angry and badass. This time around, the music adds a perfect compliment to the game at hand, to the point where I start to load up the game and think of the music before it starts playing.
Let’s take a second to talk about how this game looks; we’re not talking about a big budget title here, and I know that. I actually enjoy the minimalist styled backgrounds because it allows me to focus on the level. That being said, they are rather empty backgrounds — in the snow world, you might see a house or two as you go by, and in the desert world you’ll see a few obelisks and pyramids. I understand though how this might be a bit lackluster to some players, and knowing that some gamers are visually receptive before they even play the game, this may turn some potential bears away from their dumpsters. The designs of each level in the worlds are the same as well: you might not know where world 1-1 ends and world 1-2 begins from the layout of the shipping crates. This isn’t a large detraction from the game, but it’s worth noting that Dave’s adventures are reminiscent to old cartoons with the repeating backdrops.
“So it’s a straight platformer with a bear and metal music and cheesy level designs, what, Mike, is that all there is to Epic Dumpster Bear?” No good reader, not even close! This isn’t a linear “beat level 1 and go to level 2” kind of platformer, believe it or not Dave the Bear can find secret exits in some levels.
Some of them are obvious in that if you pass them you can see the portal from the normal level path…others are more “where on earth am I going right now with these springs/bumpers/jumping baddies? Oh look, a secret!”
These bonus levels are theme-oriented, requiring your finest finesse of certain fundamentals to finish them. They’re titled as such as well so you know what you’re getting into – is the level about wall-jumping? Prepare for a conveniently named title. There’s nothing extra to gain from these levels aside from more coins and salmon and Miiverse stamp points but don’t let that discourage you from playing them. Nothing shall stop Dave from reclaiming his land!
Along the lines of bonus levels, there are a few extra levels in each world that you can unlock with the coins you get in every level. These specialize the GamePad with colored blocks, not much different than in Puzzle Monkeys in appearance, but they move similar-colored objects to create a pathway or unveil secret red coins.
I won’t divulge their secrets, but every world has a boss. A member of the evil corporation that took your home, they’re out to make sure you rest with the rest of the forest animals.
The boss battles are all, for the most part, pretty solid. The first one is rather exploitable, but the bosses thereafter all feel extremely tight and fluid. To be fair, that can be said for the rest of this game. This is an indie game with controls and physics so well done, you could slap Mario in here and it would feel right at home. Back on topic, beating each boss gives you a silly plot cutscene, and you travel to the new world with a new setting and new baddies. I won’t spoil the ending or future levels…you need to see for yourself and help Dave the Dumpster Bear seek revenge.
Epic Dumpster Bear is a very well-done indie game made by a relatively new developer. The plot and the settings that follow with it are silly and asinine and hilarious and exactly what I expect from a game with this kind of title. If 8 levels minimum per world with the same background and a small handful of enemies turn you off…still give this game a chance because underneath the repetition is a quality platformer that makes you work for your reward: nice, fresh dumpster salmon.