Wind-up Knight 2 comes to the Wii U eShop, bypassing its popular predecessor.  I’ve always found it odd when sequels are brought to systems lacking the first game, but I digress.  Its mobile origins may make some hesitate, but the developers have promised a “console-level experience”. Is this a title that lives up to those claims?

In several ways the answer is yes.  This runner has more substance than many.  Besides the standard levels – there’s no infinite mode – a slew of extra content has been included.  Multiple and varied side quests, an equipment store, tournaments, local leaderboards, unlockables, and more, elevate this game beyond a simple time waster.  It’s replay value is that of a progressive experience.

You control Sprint, a clockwork knight.  There’s only a nominal story (saving a princess), but a Twitter like setup allows for minor plot development and occasional social media spoofing humor. Sprint will journey across dozens of levels, and the design variety is much appreciated.  Not just a strict left to right affair, Sprint will also be traveling up and down, crisscrossing side to side, and even jumping into the background ala DKC Returns!  Terrain can switch up also, with speedy ice and sluggish grass probably most prominent.  The mechanics for navigation are well-balanced.  Sprint’s not limited to mere jumping, but isn’t overloaded with unnecessary sword and shield actions either.  This game strikes that sweet spot between too basic and overly complex.

Still shots paint a pretty picture, and thankfully the visuals look even better in motion.  The stutter free experience makes the various animations a real asset.  Dynamic camera angles show off a bunch of beautiful backgrounds, making the world of Wind-up Knight feel alive and expansive.  Don’t let the sheer abundance of scenic detail distract you!  In fact that’s probably the biggest visual setback.  The amount of on-screen activity, coupled with the unique viewpoints, means that sometimes mistakes are less a result of late reflexes, and unfortunately more what you can or can’t see.

The accompanying thematic music fits the medieval settings, though the map tune can get repetitive.  Certain sound effects are nothing special (Sprint yelling for one), but they never get to the point of exasperation, nor do they drown out the musical tracks.  One notable audio letdown however is a glitch I encountered, where static overpowered the music and sfx until I reset the game!  Thankfully it just happened once.

Though good more often than not, there are certain other aspects where I found this game to be problematic.  To start there is the multiplayer tournaments, which are disappointing take-turns only affairs.  At the very least, why is there no split screen option?  The touch controls are also quite poor, being limited to the menus, and sometimes just unresponsive.  And with that, the absence of alternate controller support disappoints.  Collectively all these, and other minor things, add up.

Though it may not convert those unfamiliar with the genre, I feel this game still has much to offer runner fans of all skills and ages.  The presentation s family friendly, yet the options can really challenge seasoned gamers.  Given this series’ critical and commercial success on mobile, I’d imagine there’s an audience excited about the superior console experience of Wind-up Knight 2.  While the aforementioned issues surely hold it back some, it’s not enough to prevent a recommendation.  And for any wondering about the $7.99 price, remember you’ll never be pestered to shell out more cash for DLC.

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