Itís a rare event that in the midst of my total immersion within the world of Nintendo a neat looking game releases without making it onto my radar beforehand, but such is the case with Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo (by developer Pixel Toys) for the 3DS eShop, an expanded port of an iOS platformer. I didnít even know that this game existed until the day that I downloaded it, so I was able to have the uncommon experience of coming into a game totally clean for once. I suspect that many of you have not heard of it as well, so I might have a chance to preach to an audience outside of the choir. Whether my sermon is going to hit you where it counts, you will have to read on to discover.
Mr. Nibbles joined the Men in Black, apparently.
Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo puts you in the role of Mr. Nibbles the squirrel, who sets out to recover his stash of acorns after it is stolen by various woodland creatures. Itís similar to Donkey Kong Country in this regard, although acorns are, decidedly, not bananas. The quest to take back your acorns will take you across 60 stages divided up by the four seasons and spread over the course of three years. Thatís a long time to be hunting down stolen acorns, but Mr. Nibbles is not, apparently, one to give up easily.
You can still feel a bit of the iOS DNA in the simplicity of the controls, although this isnít necessarily a bad thing. Mr. Nibbles can move left or right, jump, and grapple (using the same button as jumping), and that is the full extent of the controls. The 3DS version uses the digital pad and buttons, of course, which I have to imagine is a step up from the original iOS control scheme, but as I have not played the latter I canít really comment too much on that difference. Overall I found the controls to be fairly fluid, although the hit detection seems a bit off, so you really have to make sure that you hit each enemy squarely or you may run into some trouble.
The basic goal of each stage is to collect all of the acorns scattered about and get to the exit before the time limit runs out; some stages will have an additional task of collecting baby squirrels that are running about as well. Additionally, once you collect the acorns, five pieces of fruit will appear, although collecting these are optional and not required to pass the stage. You will usually only have about two or three minutes to finish a stage, and time extensions are relatively sparse, so it is safe to say that Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo requires you to be constantly on the move. Stages are set up in a variety of ways; some are typical left to right stages with an exit at the end, while others place the exit in a more central location and have you moving all over the place to grab up the acorns.
Son, let me tell you about the bee and the other bee.
Although I am calling Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo a platformer and this is certainly not inaccurate, it involves almost as much swinging as it does jumping. Practically every stage is littered with multiple grapple points, requiring you to swing between various platforms, swing to get up to higher spots, swing into enemies (which defeats them), etc. In addition to this swing mechanic, there are a few other neat tricks, such as springy platforms, disappearing platforms, blocks that switch on and off, and more. None of this is stuff that you havenít seen before, but it works well, for the most part.
Attempting to inhibit your progress are the woodland creatures mentioned above; caterpillars, spiders, raccoons, birds, bees and many more will try to get in your way. Most of them can be defeated by jumping on their heads, but some will require a bit more effort to take down. Although Mr. Nibbles has no health bar and cannot die from enemy contact, enemies can ďpoisonĒ you, temporarily turning you green and making you move slower, as well as knock you into pits of water, which instantly kill you. You can, of course, fall into water of your own volition, and that will kill you as well. Water is highly dangerous to squirrels, apparently.
There are a variety of power-ups strewn about the stages that you can obtain to temporary help you in your quest. None of these are particularly innovative (speed boost, invincibility, high jump, etc.) but they are enjoyable nonetheless, especially when stacked on top of each other. One minor gripe of mine is that there is no real warning that your power-up is about to expire, which can lead to unfortunate tragedy.
At the end of each year there is a boss stage containing a giant boss to go head to head with, but you will not be fighting these bosses. Boss stages are merely a race to the exit, and much like the smaller enemies, the bosses cannot kill you, but they can and will get in your way and slow you down. These stages are a nice break of pace from the rest of the game, but nothing extraordinary.
Argh, a pirate I be, now where are me acorns?
Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo has a lot of extras to keep you busy beyond the main quest, which is a very good thing, as you can finish the main quest in about two to three hours. For starters, there are four medals that you can try to collect on every stage. The first is acquired by simply completing the stage, while the next three are acquired by collecting the five pieces of fruit, finishing in a set amount of time, and defeating all of the enemies in the stage, respectively. There is also an achievement system with 45 achievements that you can strive for, although with no online connectivity these achievements are really for your eyes only. There are plenty of unlockable costumes and accessories for Mr. Nibbles to wear; my favorite is the astronaut suit. A turbo mode exists which, as far as I can tell, is just the 60 main stages sped up, but you might have some fun with it. Last, but certainly not least, Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo has a 3DS exclusive challenge mode that, much like the similarly named mode in New Super Mario Bros. U, gives you a distinct set of challenges designed to push yourself in ways that the main game does not. These are a much appreciated addition for those of us that like to have our skills put to the test, although with only thirty challenges (ten themes times three difficulty levels) this mode will only extend things so far.
All of this is tied together by a smooth presentation involving colorful, cartoon-like visuals, solid 3D implementation, and an enjoyable, upbeat soundtrack. My only real complaint here is that the soundtrack is fairly limited and repeats itself too much, and a few of the sound effects feel a bit generic.
I do have a few complaints aside from those mentioned above. It can be tough to find your rhythm, and downright frustrating at times when you continually get slowed down or knocked out of the air by enemies. I also found that it wasnít really until the third year that the gameplay started to pick up and present some of the best stages, and by then the game is nearly over (although the challenge mode does add some more stages to play with.)
Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo is a neat little game, although it doesnít aspire to innovate, instead being content as a solid example of familiar platforming mechanics, with the focus on swinging being the only real standout idea. The game does have some weaknesses, but I found it to be an enjoyable experience overall. With digital pad / button controls, 3D implementation, a new turbo mode, exclusive challenge stages and more, the 3DS version is easily the definitive version of the game. However, these additions come at a price; you can currently pick up Little Acorns in the App Store for 99Ę, while Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo is sitting at $7.99 on the North American eShop. Thatís a hefty premium to pay for an upgraded iOS port. Whether it is worth it or not is up to you to decide.
Nice review Zero; indeed, who among us would have even known about this game! It really is nice that they added some extra stuff not found in the original game, but yeah, it's not obvious that all of it is worth the asking price on the 3DS eShop. That's too bad about the hit detection being a bit off; that kind of stuff can make or break a game of this type (for me, at least).
The game sounds decent enough, for sure. Though there are probably a lot of other games on my Wanted list I would want to play before I get to a game like this.