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Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is a retro-inspired 2D platformer where you play as Alex, a young boy who reads a mysteriously old book and has been transformed into a pink creature called Whipseey. Now lost in a mystical fantasy world, Alex (now Whipseey) must solve the mystery of the Lost Atlas if he’s ever to return home and be transformed back to his old self.

Gameplay

Whipseey and the Lost Atlas plays as you would expect a lot of classic 2D platformers to have back in the late 80s and early 90s. The pink little guy moves fluently and the game rarely stuttered due to technical hiccups.

The controls are easy to pick up and play, avoiding complexity in order to appeal to a wide audience. Simply press Y to crack the whip and jump and glide with the B button. For seasoned gamers, Whipseey and the Lost Atlas may come across as simplistic, but it certainly allows it to be a game for players of all ages. However, that initial appeal cannot be said for the rest of the game.

You begin each level run-through with five lives in which when you die, you are sent back to the very beginning of the level. Not only is this frustrating to the point where we play in an era where a life system feels outdated, but it’s also frustrating that there are no checkpoints throughout each level. This means that dying at the boss fight puts you back to the very beginning of the level, forcing you to replay the level in its entirety again. Lastly, your lives remain the same when you proceed to the next level, so if you only have one life left, you know you’re going to be replaying that level a second time.

The frustration also heightens with enemy placements. Generally happening halfway through the level, there will be an enemy perched on the edge of a higher platform with pit in between. With the enemy above firing or throwing something at you, it’s difficult to get up there and when you are hit or jump into the enemy, you will fall down into the pit and lose a life. Quite often, the game strings multiple of these enemies together in quick succession, making each run-through desk-bangingly frustrating.

Whipseey and the Lost Atlas can also suffer from horrendous hit-box detection issues, leaving you scratching your head in shock disappointment. I don’t think I’ve been this frustrated since playing the original Kingdom Hearts.

The game’s boss fights are surprisingly creative and while they can come across as simplistic at times, each one stands out and are memorable. They also provide a nice challenge whilst not being frustratingly difficult, something that the rest of the game seemed to struggle with.

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As Whipseey will be making his debut on PC and all consoles on the same date, it isn’t too surprising that the game lacks HD Rumble, or rumble of any kind. It feels odd going from games where the developers have gone the extra mile for the Switch version to one that hasn’t. At times when you take damage, or even cracking the whip at enemies, the action simply feels hollow.

Level Design

Unfortunately, Whipseey and the Lost Atlas’ level design is as dull and frustrating as its gameplay. The game doesn’t attempt to do anything new, nor does it do particularly well at what are staples of the genre.

There seems to be odd difficulty spikes within each level as you progress from one room to the next. For example, you’ll be travelling on a seemingly linear path and the next, you are required to swim through a linear maze that have instant death spikes on the walls. Whilst Whipseey controls well enough to not put the blame on the character’s movements, the rollercoaster difficulty spiking is certainly jarring.

As a long time fan of 2D platformers, I am always on the lookout for hidden areas and secret levels. However, I was incredibly surprised to find out that Whipseey and the Lost Atlas didn’t contain a single one. This became increasingly surprising as there were so many sections that point towards a hidden area and not only were my searches in vain, they even caused me to die a few times for no reward.

Story

The plot of Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is to turn the pink blob back into Alex the human boy. However despite a few still-shots at the beginning and of the game, I wouldn’t have guessed that the game had a plot at all. Despite the title saying that we’re searching for a “lost atlas”, I can’t even recall it ever being mentioned. Sure it all gave some sort of motivation, but it all just felt more like an excuse without having put in any real effort to flesh out the plot. SPOILER ALERT: Even to the point of it ending with one the most generic endings possible in storytelling: it was all a dream… that’s right.

Graphics / Art Direction

The art, whilst colourful and charming, is quite simplistic. That’s not necessarily a negative, but it’s certainly nothing to get excited over. The use of the game’s bright colours are a treat to look at and the enemies are well designed, however it all just feels like it’s been done before. The level themes can also be very uninspired, following a simple pattern of meadow, forest, desert, etc. None of it feels new and exciting, but it may seem quite obvious that Whipseey and the Lost Atlas isn’t attempting to reinvent the gaming wheel.

I’m wondering whether now is the time to point out the big pink elephant in the room. Surely I cannot be the only one who immediately thought that Whipseey seems to very closely resemble a certain pink puffball from Nintendo’s repertoire? Couple that with a lack of a hook (a copy ability, perhaps) and it all but reaffirms the game’s generic approach.

Music / Sound Design

Unlike the art direction, the soundtrack is creative and very catchy. When listening closely, I was able to identify a wide range of instruments, from woodwind, to string to brass. It gave a game that would have otherwise been quite generic a flavour of its own.

At the end of the day, the soundtrack was Whipseey and the Lost Atlas’ best quality.

Final Score: 40%

On the surface, Whipseey and the Lost Atlas may seem like a colourful and jolly fun time but after an hour, all you’ll see is red. Whether it’s the deliberately poor enemy placements, woeful hit-box detection or simply just its generic presentation, you’ll soon find Whipseey’s adventure to be nothing more than a nightmare.

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Posted by Alex Harding