I love 3D platformers. My first ever game was Super Mario 64, I love Banjo-Kazooie, and both Sonic Adventures are pure classics to me. Unfortunately, outside of the occasional Nintendo release this genre is pretty rare today. With that in mind, when I see a new 3D platformer available like Raccoo Venture, I jump at it with the hopes of reliving some of that magic. Unfortunately, this game doesn’t live up to its inspirations in its attempt to replicate the classic platforming formula but comes off as a stale experience. It wants to be something you look at fondly, but you will likely very quickly grow tired of it.
Trapped in the shadow of what came before
In Raccoo Venture, you play as Raccoo, a raccoon that needs to travel through 3D environments and grab chessboard pieces that the enemy Tattooed Tatus have stolen from you. It’s a threadbare setup, but more than enough justification to go on a platforming adventure (or something to tie this thought off before jumping into the art style) Graphically, this is a very impressive-looking game, especially considering one person made it. Unfortunately, it feels like they put all of their efforts into making it look good but not enough time into it playing well.
From a gameplay perspective, this game most closely resembles Super Mario 3D World, but by no means is it anywhere near as tight or polished. Every level is viewed from a fixed perspective that has you running through various dioramas. There are six chess pieces to find in each level: four board squares and two pieces. Looking for hidden paths to find those collectibles is probably the best part of this game. The best puzzles force you to pay attention to your surroundings, and, for the most part, I felt rewarded for exploring every nook and cranny. Unfortunately, everything else in general feels awful. The movement and combat of Raccoo are what truly threw me off to the brink of abandoning the game.
Difficulty for difficulty’s sake
In a 3D platformer, your character usually has some moves to help protect them against enemies. For Mario, you have his acrobatic jumps and dives, for example. In Raccoo Venture, all you have is a ground pound attack, and in some areas, you can pick up an explosive mushroom to throw at enemies. There’s no tailspin, no claw attack, and no unlockable abilities as you progress. A large majority of combat involves you baiting an enemy to run towards you, jumping above them, and doing a ground pound. In some situations you are forced to avoid enemies or look for an item to throw, but combat was stale from the onset and only wore on me more as it refused to evolve.
The dreadful combat is only exacerbated by how rigid Racoo feels to control. You would expect a raccoon character to be nimble and able to perform a variety of acrobatic moves, but none of that is true. His animation is just as stiff as the controls, which only adds to how unsatisfying he is to move. While looking for chess pieces, you can also find various costumes to change his look. I hoped that these would bring some form of gameplay variation, but no, they’re just cosmetic.
Another problem that arises from the overly simplistic gameplay is the difficulty jump out of nowhere. For a game that looks like it wants to be enjoyed by players of all ages, I could not imagine my 11-year-old daughter getting past the second world of levels and feeling like she had the skill to keep going considering the game doesn’t offer you any upgrades or new moves to work with. Most levels feature a red crystal you need to grab that puts you on a timer. During this time limit, you can cross over certain areas that have an invisible path that is revealed in a small vicinity around you. The problem is that you largely will be taking a lot of leaps of faith in these areas because there is no shadow to show where you are in relation to those paths, and Raccoo drops like a rock with no double jump or hover ability to help you nail those landings. Moving platforms and various obstacles along the way only add to the frustration as you try to continue playing. Luckily, there is no life counter; you lose coins you gathered when you die, but that does very little to encourage you to get better.
Raccoo Venture was a game I wanted to enjoy. On the surface, you might see a cute 3D platformer that has pretty decent music, but it very quickly reveals its flaws. Platforming and combat flat-out don’t feel good, and the basic gameplay never does anything to evolve. No matter how desperate you may be for a new 3D platformer, there are so many better options out there. The visuals may call back to the classics of the 90s, but the gameplay is outclassed by those titles you grew up with.
Raccoo Venture was reviewed on Xbox Series X with a code provided by QUByte Interactive. It is also available on PC, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.
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- Visually appealing with cute character models and decent-looking levels
- Stale combat
- Poor movement and platforming
- No tools or abilities to account for the difficulty spike