Games like Armillo are what set the Nintendo eShop apart from other digital distribution platforms. Inspired by established and beloved franchises, they are unique to Nintendo’s system and contain their own set of distinctive traits that differentiate themselves from the competition.
The game revolves around an orange space armadillo named Armillo. It is set in a galaxy where invading forces known as the Darkbots are capturing small blue critters, who also happen to be friends of Armillo. Armillo’s brother, a cool blue armadillo with a pair of groovy shades, gets kidnapped as well and serves as the hero’s main motive for embarking on a quest that’s literally out of this world. The straightforward story doesn’t deter from the the main game and includes a couple of cute twists to boot.
Although its space-themed spherical environments are undoubtedly inspired by the Wii classic Super Mario Galaxy and its direct sequel, the game plays more like Sonic the Hedgehog and Metroid – specifically when both of the series’ leads are transformed into their respective ball states. Armillo is almost always rolled up into a ball, which is his primary weapon and allows him to swiftly navigate landscapes and dodge or destroy obstacles in his path. Naturally, rolling has a different feel than walking and is a refreshing take on the conventional 3D platforming formula.
The game can be played with the Wii U GamePad or Wii U Pro Controller and offers gyro controls, which developer Fuzzy Wuzzy Games recommends to those looking for an extra challenge. It also supports the off-TV play feature, allowing it to be played entirely via the GamePad and its 6.2-inch display.
Power-ups can be acquired from the in-game store by exchanging blue orbs, which are scattered throughout planets, encouraging you to revisit levels to find all the hidden items and obtain all the collectibles. The power-ups aren’t worthless either, as they have permanent effects and provide massive help along the way. You can buy all sorts of things from an extra heart, to a bonus life, to an ability that eases the process of collecting orbs.
Core levels contain hidden parallel worlds, which are essentially time trial levels that challenge you to speed run through 2D zones. Reminiscent of 2D platforming classics, these areas are a welcome addition to the core experience and highlight the flexibility and variety of Armillo. Main stages also house parallel dimensions that task you with solving puzzles or escaping hazardous areas within a time limit.
Unfortunately, frame rate issues are still prevalent – even with the latest update applied. During my playthrough, awkward and sometimes frustrating frame-rate drops occasionally occurred when a lot was happening on the screen. Hopefully, though, these hiccups should be mended or at least alleviated through upcoming patches.
Armillo’s addictive gameplay, clever puzzles, cuddly characters, sci-fi-style themes and extensive amount of content combine to form an engrossing download – especially considering its attractive price point. It is one of the most polished gems in the Nintendo eShop on Wii U.