A Game Review by Greg Dabkey
Game: Ittle Dew
Platform: Wii U eShop
ESRB Rating: E10+ Everyone 10 and Up
Release Date: 5/29/2014
Obtained: Courtesy of Ludosity AB
Ittle Dew just loves adventures. He loves to explore and see the world around him, and he absolutely loves to solve puzzles. One day, Ittle Dew finds himself stranded on a raft just floating around in a large body of water. He eventually spots an island in the distance and paddles his way over to it. Upon arriving, his raft is destroyed, and he finds himself stranded on the island. Will he be able to find a way to leave the island?
While the story is not anything unique or expansive, it does create a solid level of interest. His task becomes clear – to build or find a raft and find his way back home. With this introduction, it sets the tone for adventure to complete the task. While adventuring, it becomes clear that Ittle Dew enjoys solving puzzles.
The story, gameplay, and even the character design make this game look like a distant cousin to The Legend of Zelda series. Ittle Dew is not quite as expansive as The Legend of Zelda – in terms of map size, weapon collection, boss fights, etc. – but one thing it does incredibly well is the puzzle aspect. In fact, I think the puzzle aspect of Ittle Dew puts the Legend of Zelda series to shame. Ittle Dew’s strongest suits are the variety and difficulty of its puzzles.
The game consists of three smaller dungeons and a giant castle. The giant castle acts like the main temple found in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, meaning that the player explores apart of it at a time. Upon returning, the player advances further inside, locating chests of gold coins to purchase the next item. After all the weapons are acquired, the search begins for an artifact that the shop keeper wants. Upon giving it to him, he will construct your raft.
Ittle Dew can be equipped with four different weapons: a stick, fire sword, ice wand and portal wand. The stick can be placed in a fire and used to set fire to other items, but it is on a short timer and will burn out quickly. The fire sword replaces the stick as the main weapon for attacking foes, and it can also set fire to piles of wood. The ice wand does what one would expect – turns enemies, bombs, and blocks into ice. The portal wand has the ability to work with a portal block, which can be created at that spot and be pushed around. The portal wand can be used to teleport bombs, enemies, or yourself to the location of where the portal block that was created was last left. Knowing the weapons is a key part of the game, as they all come together to solve puzzles.
The player will have to initially purchase each weapon. In order to purchase it, the player must locate gold coins hidden in the main castle. Upon purchase, the store keeper does not actually have the item and ejects Ittle Dew out of the store through the roof, where he somehow manages to land in the middle of the dungeon where the item is to be found. The player is then able to find the item relatively quickly. Then, the player completes a variety of increasingly difficult puzzles within each room of the dungeon before defeating a boss in the final room. The puzzles mostly revolve around activating switches by pushing blocks on top of them, but there are some rooms where the player simply needs to defeat all the enemies in the room. While just triggering switches sounds like an easy task, midway through the game, they add in the frozen blocks, which slide across the floor. The player must figure out where the block should stop. Where it stops can be controlled by other elements, such as an enemy, a bomb, or the self-created portal block.
The controls are pretty easy. Each of the four abilities is assigned a face button (as seen in the one screen shot above), and pressing the corresponding button will use that item. The player can use either the left control stick or the control pad to move Ittle Dew. The L button can be used to ask your friend for a hint or clue in how to solve the puzzle. The most difficult and optional puzzles, the player cannot receive a hint. Using the R button will bring up the map, so the player can see where they need to go and if there are any hidden extras (character cards) or scraps of paper – which are the equivalent to a piece of heart. I found the most difficult control was movement of the character, as it seems Ittle Dew can move quickly and he is very sensitive to running into enemies. It was also somewhat difficult to get close enough and aligned with enemies to strike and defeat them. Luckily, the game saves in each room, so if the player happens to get defeated, the room essentially refreshes where Ittle Dew entered and starts again with full health.
While the graphic style is cartoony, it actually fits well with the game’s humor. When Ittle Dew meets an enemy for the first time, there is a funny message screen that made me chuckle. All the objects, backgrounds, and items are unique and easily recognizable. Using trial and error, the player can see where they are allowed to walk (not over the spikes) and what objects are movable and/or react to use of one of the weapons. The sound, on the other hand, is nothing special. I did find what seems to be a bug – if playing the game solely on the GamePad, no sound will come out of the speakers. Using the TV, however, the player can easily enjoy the limited music and sound effects. The sound effects do add to the experience, where the music is not anything spectacular. In fact, it seemed bland and uninspired. Finally, the message screens and character interactions are not voiced.
Ittle Dew is a pretty solid game, overall. The gameplay is quite fun and challenging, while the controls are mostly good. The graphics and style are unique and interesting, while the music could have been better. Fans of The Legend of the Zelda will enjoy and appreciate this little gem, and I certainly recommend it to people that enjoy puzzle/adventure games. I think everyone will be a Ittle surprised how much they enjoy the game.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
+ Fun & Challenging puzzles
+ Unique cartoony graphics
+ Weapons are fun and have a variety of uses
+ Extra unlockable content (player cards)
+ Sweet sound effects
- No music from GamePad / music seems uninspired
– Moving Ittle Dew is slightly difficult