Toodee and Topdee Review (Switch eShop)

Toodee and Topdee sound like the result of rapid innovation brainstorming under Game Jam pressure: “What if side to side, but also top to bottom?” Probably kind of true, as developer Dietzribi conjured up the game’s earliest form for Ludum Dare 41 in 2018. It’s a throwaway idea that they were absolutely right not to throw away. This full-fledged game surprises and challenges for several hours, with charismatic presentation and a real sense of humor.

So, what if side-on, but also top-down? It works like this: Toodee lives in a 2D sideways platforming world, and Topdee lives in a top-down 2D puzzling adventure world. The result of a self-deprecating, hand-wavy, but entertainingly animated codswallop video game, the two worlds are smashed together like two gaming tropes in a parody tweet of a game design. Single screen playfields are traversed by Toodee with nice tight jumps until pressing “Y” tilts the view a bit and suddenly Topdee is running on what was the wall. Toodee is now hidden, pinned in place, and invulnerable until switched back, requiring Topdee to shuffle blocks into platforms, disrupt enemy attack behavior, and get stuck on top-down obstacles where Toodee must retaliate until both meet at the exit portal of the level.

The levels are divided into worlds, with each world introducing new items, enemies, and concepts and then training the player to use them. The difficulty curve is perfectly judged without getting dumb just because a new idea pops up. Well designed bosses crown each world. The puzzles are an impressive Jenga tower of creatively repurposed ideas. Perhaps we were too cynical to expect less, but it’s true that few puzzle games can go that far without fizzled out.

In a puzzle platformer, a balance must be found between thought and action. Working out the solution makes up a large part of the fun of the game. So once it’s worked out, you don’t want to agonize through the actual execution just to get to the next puzzle. Toodee and Topdee are good for the most part, but it definitely has an action side, meaning executing your solution is as much a part of the game as thinking outside the box. It’s therefore crucial that the action parts are satisfying, and they only kind of are. Toodee’s movement is accurate, fluid, and legible, with straightforward and clear-cut physics that don’t get old. However, Topdee is a drag. The pitch of the pitch makes it unnecessarily difficult to gauge position, and a single slip in a dynamic solution can mean a total reset. To its credit, the levels are short, so there’s a natural limit to how big a problem can be, but optional time-based tests lean into the pressured area where the game is at its weakest. And while they’re optional, there’s significant content to unlock, so be prepared to grind the more boring bits if you love the rest.

All in all Toodee and Topdee is a fantastically imaginative puzzler with exceptional variety that has been wrested from its core idea. It struggles the most when asking for dynamic execution of puzzle solving, but even then it’s pretty decent. This side-on, top-down puzzle game is one that other games should look up to. Toodee and Topdee Review (Switch eShop)

Fry Electronics Team

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