Underground (Wii U)

UNDER_BOXYoung girl Sari and her robot friend Swank are trapped in an underground cavern and must find a way out!  The robot finds a machine with two mechanical arms, and uses it to help the girl and all of the other trapped robots escape from the catacombs.  Underground is an action puzzle game, downloadable on the Wii U eShop.

In the game, you’ll control the two robotic arms with both of the analog sticks on the Wii U gamepad.  Your goal in each of the levels is to use the arms to guide the robots and the girl to the exit.  If you can’t get them to the end, it’s Game Over.  The robotic arms have three different tools that you can use by tapping on the buttons on the Wii U gamepad screen.  The Shocker can melt ice that traps the robots, stun enemies, and zap the robots so they’ll run faster.  The drill breaks rocks, and the grabber can pick up objects and some enemies.  You can also use the arms to break certain structures, but you’ll want to be careful sometimes because there are instances when you don’t want to break something.

Later on in the game, you’ll be able to use the grabber tool to make buildable objects with boilers scattered about the level.  These objects include bridges and staircases that you can then place to help everyone bypass obstacles.  Unfortunately, the clumsy controls make this and using the tools very hard.  And you even control zooming the camera in and out with the arms, which makes things even worse.  I do love these kinds of “Lemmings” style puzzle games, but I’ve played better dual analog games that have much better controls, such as Ape Escape and Katamari Damacy.

One interesting thing about this game is that it was actually designed for surgeons, to imitate the operating tools they use in real life.  You can even go to the game developer’s Web site and order a special surgeon’s controller for use with this game!  But it makes me wonder if real surgeons’ tools are this clumsy, and if they are; now I’m afraid to go to the hospital!  Of course, it could always be ME who is the clumsy one, in which case you’d better thank your lucky stars that I’M not a surgeon!


Kid Factor:

Underground is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  If the robots or the girl get hit by rocks or enemies, they just fall over.  Reading skill is helpful for the text and instructions (which are a must to run through if you want to know how to play).  And younger gamers may get frustrated by the high difficulty level and awkward controls.  However, if you have a kid who wants to be a surgeon when they grow up, this might be an interesting game to look into for them.  It’s never too early to start them practicing, since they’re going to be the ones operating on US when we get old!

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