Wooden Sen’SeY Review (Wii U eShop)

When I first heard of the game Wooden Sen’SeY, I don’t know how I felt exactly. The game looked pretty, but I didn’t know how it would play and what role wood would play. As it turns out, I still don’t know where the that part of the title comes from, but that takes nothing away from the enjoyment I got from the game.

Story
Some evil creature has stolen the sey(sake?) from a village and it’s up to you to catch the thief and defeat him. That’s it and all you see. The game keeps storytelling to a minimum which is fine by me. The lack of big cutscenes and dialog make this fairly short game easy to replay and get back into the groove. One thing I noticed as I did research is that this game claims to have a lot of humor but I didn’t find any.

Graphics

Are we sure this is an indie game? The developers did a fantastic job with the graphics and level design. Each level has a different theme. The second level might be titled “Sunset” but the sakura flowers will pleasantly distract you from ever taking notice. Likewise, I was very impressed by the shadow level and the airship one after that.

I actually really liked the design of this level

I actually really liked the design of this level

Sound

Considering the game is set to a “Steam Rock” Japan, the music fits. There is a feel for some Japanese sounds played with the additions of some rock and roll instruments. It actually sounds fairly good. I believe this video should help convey what I mean.

Gameplay

In this game, you slash or smash your blob enemies using your chain axes as well as shuriken and bombs you pick up. The move you will probably use the most is the “mega blast” where your axes slam into the ground, granting you a higher jump. It’s also a powerful attack with a good safe distance as opposed to the normal attack, so you’ll find yourself jumping over enemies and “mega blasting” them a lot.

Really, you use it a lot

Really, you use it a lot

Despite the 3D environment and models, the game is a 2D action platformer. This leads to my main complaint being about the controls. “Y” is your attack button, “X” is your special weapons button, and “L”, “ZL”, “R”, and “ZR” are your grapple buttons, but only “B” is used for jumping. “A” is completely useless. I found myself trying the jump with the “A” button only to fall to my doom instead. If “A” isn’t going to be used for anything, at least let us jump with it or maybe a shortcut for the mega blast instead of “Down Y.”

Also a problem is the lack of use for the D-pad. As a platformer, the game could use the precise controls granted by the D-pad, especially in the last level. UpperByte decided apparently to implement motion controls instead, which don’t work so well. The motion for the mega blast is fine and effective if you are playing on the TV, but the swinging is no good at all. On the bright side, you can turn off motion controls, which is a must if you play on just the gamepad. The manual does indicate you can play using the wiimote or wiimote with nunchuck so I might try that for the sake of the D-pad.

The level design is pretty good for the most part. One thing I applaud UpperByte for, is the recognition of where players might have trouble. With well placed checkpoints and extra lives in easy reach in these tough sections, you can feel the difficulty of the game while having plenty of time to master it. This game is still a challenge as you can easily lose your lives outside of the brutal sections if you aren’t careful since it only takes 4 hits to die if you don’t find a heart.

Or one touch in this case

Or one touch in this case

The only level that doesn’t have much mercy is the last level. It’s the only level where I had a “continue screen” and I got at least 10 of them. As in the picture above, you are chased by an invincible and deadly machine that also happens to be slightly faster than you. The level is also filled with precision platforming that requires perfect timing. The saw blade you see can be jumped over, but you have to hit “B” at the right spot to make it. You can mega blast across, but that normally loses your momentum and you die shortly after. The tricky section is actually not that one blade but the one with two blades essentially right next to each other. There is a way to mega blast over without losing momentum, but you have to do it as soon as you jump which is harder with the control stick that it would have been with the D-pad or a keyboard. Part of this is because it’s the only part of the game where you have to continuously move forward. I would advocate using the motion controls here, but then you have to swing which is where you would not want motion controls. You can use the wiimote on its side and it works for the platforming, but the special button and the grapple is a little uncomfortable.

So beyond that level, the basic controls are fairly fine and not a problem. I had fun using the grapple hook to spin around and swing across. There are a lot of Sey of collect, but I haven’t really found that to be rewarding. All that happens is you just are acknowledged as a “Drunken Master” for the level. Likewise, if you defeat every enemy in a level you are called a “Warrior.” The levels can take a fairly long time to beat the first time through. I think I averaged about 15 minutes for each one as I hunted after each Sey and monster. I also tried exploring but you find there isn’t much to explore outside of the set path.

There is some variety to the monsters, but you find that the way to kill most of them is to mega blast them. If you don’t, the range of your axe is very small and you only have as many bombs or shuriken as you pick up, which doesn’t happen too frequently.

Time to mega blast that spike helmet off

Time to mega blast that spike helmet off

I was a little worried after playing the first level, but it got a better as I played on. The levels themselves are a little diverse. There’s one level where you are a submarine the whole time and another where you don’t have your axe for most of it. This variety interspersed helps keep the game from feeling monotonous, which is useful after mega blasting so much within the 9 levels of game-play.

There is also a Time Attack mode where you can look at the course to plan your route to beat the record time. It’s made up of a bunch of mini levels with the goal of getting the highest score possible and comparing with the online leader-board. This is a neat feature that does improve replayability. At first I was skeptical, but the first couple of levels made me want to continue.

Overall

If you are looking for a challenge on the Wii U, this is a good start. It’s fairly short overall, but the levels themselves can give you a nice playtime sessions while looking good. The added bonus of the Time Attack mode makes this game even better for the skilled. My recommendation is for the hardcore platformers looking for a cheap, quick alternative to Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze (I haven’t played that yet so I can’t say which is better). Either way, I think those are the people who would enjoy it the most but it can be a treat for not so skilled as well.

Game Size: 617MB

Price: $9.99

Wooden Sen'SeY Review (Wii U eShop)
A beautiful game for the challenge and achievement seekers on the Wii U, both beginner and advance
Story7.5
Graphics9
Sound8
Gameplay8
Replayability7.5
Controls6.5
Pros
  • Beautiful graphics
  • Well placed Checkpoints and Lives
  • Nice difficulty for the most part
Cons
  • No D-Pad on Normal Controller
  • Insane last level
  • Weak enemies
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0
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About The Author

Feature Writer/Game Reviewer

Blogger in the IGN community and no longer for Always Nintendo. You can find him still blogging in the IGN community as FalconRise