Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a ’90s tribute that’s sadly more Aqua than Oasis

gaming Clive ‘N’ Wrench makes us feel like a high school teacher trying to get a school bully to turn his life around.

“I keep you in the staff room,” they say. “I know deep down you’re a good kid, but you keep letting me down.”

As we spend every hour with this game, we can tell that at its core it’s a passionate, well-intentioned love letter to the platformer era of the 90s.

However, with each passing hour, we find ourselves increasingly enraged by the myriad of things presented to us with unbearable regularity.

Clive ‘N’ Wrench Trailer

Play is creation Dinosaur syllables, which is actually a one-man operation. Developer Rob Wass has spent around 12 years making this game single-handedly from scratch, and his achievement in that regard cannot be denied.

Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a heartfelt tribute to the way 3D platformers were on the PS1, PS2 and N64 era, right down to the presence of happy animal mascot protagonists.

Clive (the rabbit) and Wrench (the monkey) must travel through time and space to try to stop the evil Dr. Daucus from finding the ancient stones that will give him the power he needs for complete domination.

Players must travel through 11 different worlds from different eras, collecting these ancient stones along the way.

The whole thing is very Super Mario 64 in nature, with the Ancient Stones essentially acting like the game’s Stars. Each world has a selection of ancient stones, and players must collect a certain number of them to unlock access to the next boss fight (and then defeat them to enter the next world).

It’s clear that a lot of attention to detail has gone into some of these worlds, especially in the early stages of the game. Based on Honey I Shrunk the Kids , the first area is indeed full of references and winks and winks and jokes, and even if they don’t all land on us, we at least appreciate the intent.

But good intentions will only get you so far, and while we’re grateful that Clive ‘N’ Wrench exists – lord knows we’d love to campaign for platformers like the PS2 these days – ambition is sadly let down. according to execution.

It may have been 12 years in the making, but Clive ‘N’ Wrench still feels unfinished. First, it suffers from an all-too-common problem from the era it pays homage to – landing jumps can be a nightmare.

Most games these days do their best to make sure players can land exactly where they want, but there were plenty of moments here where it was so hard to gauge exactly where our feet landed – and there’s no shortage of them. Clever platforming sections to test our patience in this regard.

Some may brush this off as a result of it mimicking the mood of the era and suggesting it’s “faithful to a fault”. This may be so, but the game has a lot of other problems that the best platformers of the 90s certainly didn’t have.

“Some may brush this off as mimicking the feel of the era, suggesting it’s ‘faithful to a fault.'” This may be so, but the game has a lot of other issues that the best platformers of the 90s certainly didn’t have.

Combat is hit and miss (quite literally). The player’s main form of attack is a spin move, Crash Bandicoot style, but it feels like sometimes it cleanly hits enemies, while other times it deals damage, and it’s annoyingly unpredictable. You can also jump on their heads, which involves a similar gamble.

This “will it or won’t it” policy also applies to sticking to the edges of platforms. Sometimes when you jump and hit a ledge you grab it on purpose, while other times Clive just doesn’t feel like it and falls. It seems that hitting the edge at even the slightest angle is enough to nullify the effort.

3D platformers of the era often had bad cameras, but this one is worse than most. It has a great knack for pointing in a direction you don’t want it to point, and while you can manually turn the camera with the right stick, it turns slower than a tank with no option to increase speed.

This is especially infuriating when you know there’s an enemy behind you (or worse, one that’s firing ammo) and you have to give them three weeks’ notice to turn around and engage them.

Review: Clive 'N' Wrench is a '90s tribute that's sadly more Aqua than Oasis
While the game generally looks pleasant, it can look downright awful at times Change. This treetop view shows the ultimate swamp bog

It’s actually oddly fitting that the game also features a cameo appearance from Trowser, the snake. Playtonicis Yooka Laylee.

That, too, was a ’90s-inspired platformer whose camera was regularly accused of — that phrase again — “faithful to a fault,” but seeing it here just makes it clear that it could have been worse. Compared to this, Yooka-Layle’s camera may have been directed by Scorcese.

Worse than all of this, though, is that the whole thing feels so unstable – at least on Switch, we can’t speak for ourselves. PS4 or PS5 – feels like it’s constantly on the verge of another failure or bug.

We can’t remember the last time a game threw up unintended problems so often, certainly not one that was considered perfect and worthy.

If you think we’re overreacting, here’s a montage of incidents we encountered in just the first few hours of gameplay. These aren’t all either – just the ones we remembered to save while playing on our Switch.

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The general feeling when all of this is taken into account is – to borrow that overused parenting cliché – one where we’re not angry, we’re just disappointed.

There’s no denying how much work has gone into this game over the years, and the fact that it was put together by one developer is a testament to his dedication.

With everything working as it should, we had a lot of fun jumping around and using the radar to find the missing bells we hadn’t collected yet as we attempted to 100% each world.

The problem is that the game’s moments of satisfaction are all too often interrupted by a frustrating enemy encounter or boss fight, an annoying and unfair missed jump, and constant bugs and glitches.

“The problem is that the game’s moments of satisfaction are far too often interrupted by a frustrating enemy encounter or boss fight, an annoying and unfair missed jump, and constant bugs and glitches.”

Hardcore fans of the platforming genre, who consider themselves quite forgiving about such things, may still want to give the game a try. Like that high school teacher, we know there’s a good game out there and we really want to hang on to it in the staff room.

While it’s commendable that a game developed by one person over 12 years has finally released, we can’t help but wonder what an extra year and an extra person could have done to the overall quality of the game. liked the final product.