Unit 4

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Title: Unit 4
Developer: Gamera interactive
Publisher: QubicGames
Website:https://qubicgames.com/
Genre: Adventure, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: 7
Release Date: 15/03/19
Price: £13.49 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

What the Developers say

An alien army has stolen the sacred artifact of our heroes’ tribe. Similar reports are coming from other planets. Problem: the solar system will decay without the power of these artifacts. Begin an epic journey to uncover the truth. What is this army trying to accomplish and can you recover the artifacts before the universe collapses? Experience the ultimate platforming mayhem: perform impossible tricks, play with your friends and get ready to save the day!

Key Features:

Cooperative mode for up to 4 players

4 characters with a unique ability

A whole galaxy with many planets and creatures to discover

Evil bosses to defeat

Gameplay and pixel art paying homage to classic games

Characters & ship customization

Mini-games including multiplayer versus

Introduction

An alien fleet has just stolen a very ancient artefact from our hero’s tribe. However, this is only the beginning of our tale as other tribes across the galaxy have also had their artefacts stolen too. Without them the universe as we know it will decay and collapse. And so a journey of discovery begins. As our four heroes venture forward to find what has been taken and save their universe from the grips of evil!

Looks and Sounds

Unit 4 has a tried and tested art style that a lot of people might be getting a little tired of on the Switch. Good old pixel art, it suits the games overall presentation pretty well though with its vibrant colour palette which makes the pixel art pop out. I’ve not grown tired of this sort of art style as I think it goes well with a lot of platforming/Indie titles especially ones that remin me of games I played when I was a kid.

Character design looks rather charming, and the animation is well done in Unit 4. Picking characters is made simple as each of the four characters has a distinctive look, and their own colour palette making it easy when selecting them during gameplay. You can cycle your characters on the fly with the L & R bumpers, and each character is represented as one of 4 coloured stars – blue, red, green and yellow.

The sound in Unit 4 is also pretty good and fits the overall mood of this title well. Its got a techno style beat to it which helps with the hectic nature of this very challenging platformer title. Also, each of the environments all a unique look, visual effects and presentation. And for the most part, the game looks like the games of old in terms of its pixel art style and retro appeal. I mean who doesn’t love a good old platformer? There’s a lot of games on the Switch that have adopted this style already. There has also been a lot of success for most of these titles on the eShop but where does Unit 4 fit in?

Gameplay and Replayability

So what is Unit 4? Well, it’s a hardcore platformer that will test your platforming skills and your patience to its limit. You get to control 4 unique and distinctive characters each with their own colour and ability.

  • Blue can perform a double jump using a two button input.
  • Red can dash into enemies, and he is excellent for pushing heavy blocks.
  • Green can use a hookshot to cling to certain structures.
  • Yellow can pass through enemies, with his possession ability and after jumping, he can float gently down to the ground.

And at first glance, you would think these abilities would play a major role in each level. But I found out that the main characters I played were red and blue while the other two characters took a back seat, were only used once or not at all during levels. While these abilities may come into play in a few areas, you will mostly be using blue, and red ’s abilities as these are the most useful skills.

Levels don’t feel like they were designed to utilise all character abilities and most of the platforming felt unsatisfying to play.

Certain mechanics in the game would fail to work during my playthrough such as having to land almost perfectly on springs to even get them to activate, which was annoying. Most of the times if you didn’t land on the spring correctly it wouldn’t do anything. This soon became an issue when you were on sections that required speed or while you were trying to jump a pit or chasm. Also, the controls didn’t help as your character would slip straight off platforms or springs which would end in you dying instantly — and having to retry a section again for the 10th time.

And I’ll be honest I wasn’t all that impressed with the control set up. It’s the first time in history that a double jump is mapped to two different buttons, which I found not only cumbersome to use but ridiculous.

You have to press the A button to get blue to jump, and then you need to press the X button to perform a double jump which seems little excessive when it could have been mapped to the A button like thousands of other platformers. Controls were slippery at best; doing the most standard platformer tropes was challenging to achieve with any success.

For example, trying to jump on an enemy’s head was nearly impossible as it would usually send you overshooting and landing on one of the many environmental hazards which kill you instantly. And if you hadn’t of reached one of many check-point in a level you would be sent straight back to the beginning of a level which got old quick.

I don’t understand why the controls are so awfully implemented? This is a title that states on the Official Nintendo eShop page of Unit 4 that it’s a homage to classic games. I don’t remember many classic games playing this poorly!

Levels don’t help with the slippery controls either as the level design is quite tedious to play through. While there are checkpoints scattered throughout the levels the section in-between these points will break you!

I’ve not experienced so much extreme rage as I did with Unit 4 and this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve played hundreds of platforming games before, and there’s just something not quite right here.

The game pushed me to my breaking point with its hardcore challenge, imprecise controls which made me so angry that the simplest of tasks became most frustrating parts in the game.

One of the first boss battles had me pulling my hair out in anger with controls that saw me flying off the main platform constantly. While I would never say no to any challenge in a game, this pushed my buttons in all the wrong ways.

My biggest issue here is I can see a lot of potential in the core design of Unit 4. I feel that it needed a little more time in the oven and a bit of care with how the game plays.

Multiplayer Madness

One thing I do appreciate being included in Unit 4 is the 4-player mode. What could be more infuriating than having 3 other players alone for the ride?

While the gameplay doesn’t change much having three other companies along for the ride, it does make game a little more fun than playing alone. I played with a few of my friends, and while there were few laughs to be had, the game possessed a challenge for my friends who had not played the game before.

The fun lasted only a few hours until someone launched a Joy-con across the room and we all threw in the towel. Multiplayer is fun in short bursts, but the challenging nature of this title isn’t going to be for everyone.

I’ve had practice playing game for a good few hours but my friends hadn’t, and I could see the frustration in their eyes. Even though we were playing on an early planet, the game was still incredibly hard, and laughter soon turned to shouting – we took a break and ended up playing something else.

There are a few mini-games in Unit 4 as well, but again these feel half baked and didn’t have much staying power throughout our play-time in multiplayer.

I do have some positive things to mention about Unit 4. I do love the ability to customise your ship with parts and items as you progress through the campaign. I also liked the little nods to certain movies and games. Such as meeting Wall-e during a brief encounter with him on a planet covered in scrap metal.

If you help out the little guy, you will receive the little boot with the plant in it straight out of the movie which I thought was pretty cool, and it can be displayed in your ship. These little sections happen throughout the campaign, and I thought they were nice little inclusions.

I also liked the little unlocks for characters including costumes and other ship parts. And even though the game was frustrating, it does have that one-more-go type of gameplay which I was drawn back to again and again. I can see glimpses of real potential in Unit 4. If the controls were refined and the level design tightened, I could see this being a sure-fire hit on eShop.

Unfortunately, as it stands this is a sub-par platformer with tedious level design and slippery controls which is a shame as there are things to enjoy here including missions, planets to explore and 4-player multiplayer and of course unlocks and one-more-go gameplay troupe.

Conclusion

If you’ve played everything the eShop has to offer and you’re looking for another platformer then try Unit 4! However, if you’ve played the best, then this won’t impress you too much. There are some highlights underneath the frustration in Unit 4, but most will be far too angry to look underneath its many layers.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

You can purchase Unit 4 at the Nintendo eShop on the following link,
https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Unit-4-1526373.html#Overview

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