Jumping into the fray comes a new 3D platformer that aims to be reminiscent of those of the late 90s. Developed by one-man army Diego Ras and published by QUByte Interactive, ‘Raccoo Venture’ is a platformer that feels closer to Super Mario 3D World than I feel it suggests, but it offers quite a bit of room for tight platforming and perspective searching that sometimes makes it feel less fun to play and moreso a frustration to get through at times.
Raccoo Venture starts us off as a scrappy young raccoon (two C’s, I keep forgetting) named Raccoo, who seeks to retrieve stolen artifacts in the form of chess pieces. These artifacts are vital to keeping order in the world, and since they’re stolen by the Tattooed Tatus, they’re probably not going to be used for good. Off the bat, you’re thrown right into delicious, lush green environments, where you’ll run, jump, and body slam just about anything that moves to get those stolen chess stuffs back.
I was enamored with the control scheme and just about how well our protagonist controls. I’ve noticed it’s really difficult to figure out how to build a weighty character controller that not only feels good to play but also doesn’t slip and slide like a puck across a very large frozen rink. Raccoo jumps high, runs fast, and can body slam dorks that run in his path. He cannot punch baddies, oddly enough, and simply jumping on their heads won’t do, which I found a little odd and ultimately made me run past everything that wanted to bonk me rather than engage in weighty practises. There are options to lure enemies away , however, and I appreciate the attempt to give enemies another reason to exist.
In Raccoo’s world, he’s all about tight jumps and the occasional puzzle. Raccoo Venture’s levels are small but packed with quite a bit to do in them—and I mean it, you need to tackle these challenges if you want to progress. Yes you could simply run across the stage in three minutes, but you won’t have the required pieces needed to go to the next zone. I like this approach because, rather than opting for long-winded levels that could overstay their welcome, you’re opted to search for your objectives instead and therefore, spend more time in a level in a fun way. I appreciate the attempts at gameplay mix-ups through minigames as well.
My problem with Raccoo’s levels, however, stem from placement of these challenges in relation to the camera. Raccoo Venture uses a fixed camera that typically remains overhead unless the game calls otherwise. I often spent a lot of time running in circles between levels trying to find the platforming challenge rather than actually performing said challenge. I’m no stranger to hidden crates or objectives, but that doesn’t make them fun especially when Racco Venture begins this habit very early on. As in, I can’t I really enjoyed running through a level three times to eventually catch a glimpse of a chess piece tucked somewhere below where’d you normally never look.
These camera perspectives can also make platforming tricky as you can’t always rely on Raccoo’s shadow to land or even throw things. See, sometimes you’ll need to pick up fruits or explosive mushrooms and chuck them somewhere to defeat baddies, break walls, or fulfill door requirements. These can make for fun objectives, but throwing feels rather middling with no real way to target or strafe—a lot of times your throws are a leap of faith, and failing means you might have to jump off a cliff to reset.
Then we have two things I tend to dread in platformers: other playable characters and water sections. When you’re not controlling Raccoo, you have to play as Pru, an adorable chunky pigeon who you’ll need to fly over to hit triggers. But he is slow and has limited flaps (despite being a bloody bird), to a point where I wonder how he hasn’t been eaten by the local rats. His sections aren’t fun, and neither are the brief water swims—Raccoo’s swimming is painfully slow and really feels like an example of the often mocked “underwater level” in games.
It’s one thing to make challenging platforming, but adding a required treasure hunt on top of it just doesn’t always make for a fun time.
With that being said, Raccoo Venture isn’t a chore. It’s beautiful and the music is lovely. I loved the environment design and when you do find challenges, they are fun to tackle. I do think that Raccoo’s jumps get too tight later on, having the player jumping off specific angles to make jumps isn’t fun especially if they’re not part of the beaten path. The game performs amazing on a wide variety of systems, too, and that’s impressive given it’s just one man making this game.
Raccoo Venture has its landings, you just need to get used to them. ∎
Windows 11 PC
- Great music and presentation.
- Solid character controller that is fun to play with.
- Level design can have players spend more time looking for objectives than completing them.
- Swimming and Pru and not fun to do or play as.
- Combat options are limited and become redundant.
- Perspective of camera can make jumps frustrating.