High Strangeness (Wii U)

HIGH_BOXIn the downloadable Wii U game High Strangeness, you play as a young adult man named Boyd.  One day he wakes up in the middle of the night to find that his house is overrun with shadowy figures trying to attack him.  And even stranger, his cat is talking to him!  Boyd learns that only he can save the universe by collecting crystal skulls, so he goes off on an adventure with his talking cat and other friends.  High Strangeness is a top down action adventure game similar to Super Nintendo titles like Soul Blazer, Secret of Mana and Secret of Evermore.  In fact, one of the main gimmicks in this one is that you can switch between 16-bit and 8-bit versions of the world.

In the game, you’ll run around various top down mazes and areas, solving switch-based puzzles and defeating enemies, like a Zelda title.  After defeating a boss and/or gaining a crystal skull, you’ll be whisked to the next area so there is not a lot of exploration or backtracking.  Since the storyline involves a lot of paranormal locations set in the modern day (Easter Island, the Pyramids, even Mars), it kind of reminds me of Earthbound or Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders as well.

As you play, you’ll gain weapons and other helpful items.  You’ll get a flashlight which you use as a sword-like close range weapon.  Fireworks are like bombs to blow up cracked walls.  You can even throw long range CDs to stun and defeat enemies.  Some of the crystal skulls give you abilities as well, like a shield or the ability to create pushable blocks.  Defeated enemies drop orbs that you can collect and use to upgrade your weapons and gear at special crystal stations (PROTIP: upgrade your CDs as soon as you can, as they are the most useful item in the game, I felt).  Similar to the aforementioned Secret of Mana and Evermore, you have an energy bar and a Mana bar.  As you use items and attacks, your mana bar will go down, and you’ll have to wait a second or two for it to refill.  You can upgrade items to make your mana bar last longer, though.

As said earlier, you can switch between 8- and 16-bit versions of the world you are in using one of the skulls.  This is used to defeat certain enemies and open up paths.  But that’s about it.  Boyd can dash in the 16-bit world, but not the 8-bit one.  They don’t really implement this feature as much as they could, though.  Plus, the 8-bit graphics look really ugly, and the 16-bit ones look rather ‘first gen.’ It also would’ve been cool if they changed the audio from 16-bit to 8-bit as well, although the music is mostly unmemorable anyway.

The game has other problems as well.  Mainly that it’s WAY too short.  Normally I don’t mind short games, but this one was especially noticeable.  It’s hard to describe, but this game felt a bit disjointed and amateurish as well.  And while it imitates many classic games, it never reaches the greatness those old games had, not by a long shot.  But if you did enjoy top-down 16-bit action adventure titles, then you may want to download this anyway if you don’t mind short and disjointed games.


Kid Factor:

High Strangeness is rated T for Teen with an ESRB descriptor of Violence.  But it’s really no violent than a Zelda game.  Defeated enemies just fade out and disappear, and if you lose all your energy, you just fall over.  I’d be OK with older kids playing this, as I played games like that at that age and I think I turned out all right.  Reading skill is needed for the text, though.

One Response to “High Strangeness (Wii U)”

  1. Interesting you reviewed two games with the 8-bit/16-bit switcheroo gimmick. Too bad this one wasn’t up to snuff.

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