Super Ubie Island Remix

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Notion Games for PC and Wii U, originally released in 2016.
Ubie is cruising through space when his ship is suddenly blown to bits, and the pieces fall down onto a place called Climate Island. Fortunately, Ubie has a red balloon that allows him to float gently to the ground while he watches the pieces of his ship scatter across the landscape. Ubie must venture out into the four themed lands of the island, retrieving pieces of his ship as he goes. Along the way, he must contend with the nefarious Dr. Terrestrial who uses his powers to mutate the island’s wildlife, turning them into gigantic boss creatures.


Super Ubie Island Remix is an updated and remixed version of the developer’s original browser-based title Super Ubie Land (originally planned to be titled Super Ubi Land prior to a discussion with Ubisoft). The new game features rebalanced levels, infinite lives, a number of new secrets, and a remixed soundtrack, although the original soundtrack is included as well.


Ubie has a 2.5x nonvariable jump, as well as a double jump, a wall jump, and the ability to glide by holding his red balloon. Ubie’s descent speed when gliding is very slow, allowing him to traverse long distances, and also allowing for some more devious level designs with distant landing zones and many midair obstacles for Ubie to maneuver around.


Also notable is the fact that the player may follow a regular jump with a double jump or a glide by either tapping the JUMP button a second time (double jump) or holding the JUMP button (glide). This is an important distinction, as the double jump can only be used once in the air and it does not recharge when performing wall jumps or bouncing on enemies’ heads. As such, some advanced techniques require the player to perform a jump, followed by a glide, preserving his double jump for the end of the glide. This can allow the player to find secret areas or reach out-of-the-way collectibles, and mixing these techniques properly is required to complete some of the later stages.


The game is influenced by classic Nintendo games and provides a colorful world with cartoony characters and a strong focus on grabbing coins and other pickups. However, there is little reward for gathering coins and other collectibles beyond some unlockable music tracks and the ability to change Ubie into different colors, which has no impact on gameplay. The game even offers a scoring system and the ability to rack up bonus points by achieving long enemy killing combos, but again with no gameplay reward.


Since the player has infinite lives and retains his score and collected coins upon death, anyone can achieve a huge score and cache of money by simply playing the game long enough. In-level challenges reward the player with coins or points, such as performing a long attack combo without touching the ground, or grabbing a series of yellow apples before a timer runs down. In fact, many of the game’s secret bonus areas – some of which are quite well hidden – simply offer large numbers of coins, statues (equivalent to a larger number of coins), or score items to further inflate these numbers.


There are two additional collectibles, which appear in the form of plant stems and honey bees. A doorway in the first world leads to large queen bee who informs you that her children are missing, and each of the game’s 18 levels contains three bees, with an indicator over each door in the hub to show how many remain to be collected. Some of these bees appear along the player’s route, while others are placed in harder-to-reach positions, creating an additional challenge.


However, collecting the bees simply rewards the player with additional coins, and even finding all 54 of them yields no additional reward. The same is true of plant stems, which may be pulled up at a number of points in the environment. In the third world, the player encounters a sushi chef who asks that you bring him a whopping 300 plant stems. Since these stems only appear occasionally, the only way for the player to collect this many is to keep replaying levels to farm for them (they are retained upon death). Collecting all 300 and returning to the chef rewards the player with one additional color change for Ubie.


Ubie begins the game in a hub world with a set of locked doors suspended on floating platforms, and only the first level is open to him. Levels must be completed in order, with the next door unlocking as the preceding level is completed, eventually unlocking the red door at the top of the screen, which leads to the area’s boss encounter. Once all of the levels in the first area are completed and the boss is defeated, the player is able to move to the next hub with a new set of themed levels and the first door unlocked, although he is free to return to previously-completed levels at any time.


In traditional platformer fashion, enemies are killed by bopping them on their heads, which generally yields a coin (or sometimes a heart) and a few points. Unlike other platformers, however, enemies are not permanently killed; rather, a white outline appears in the enemy’s place and it continues to follow its patrol route.


This supports two gameplay functions: First, the player cannot remain too long on occupied platforms or he runs the risk of being killed by the enemy when it reappears. Second, and more importantly, some enemies are in place to extend Ubie’s jump, allowing him to bop them on the head and glide along with his balloon. By having enemies reappear, this ensures that players are still able to continue if they fail to take advantage of a bounce… provided they don’t find themselves immediately killed by an explosion or a fall into a bottomless pit.


Ubie is only capable of taking two hits before being killed, although there are occasionally some red leaves that may be picked in order to restore a single heart. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities for instant death, with many levels lined with spikes or appearing over insta-death water or bottomless pits, and there are no mid-level checkpoints. Many levels feature lengthy sequences where the player must make multiple wall jumps in succession, glide for long distances, and bop on enemies’ heads to stay aloft, making for a challenging platforming experience.


Mixed in with the standard hop-n-bop challenges are falling platforms, exploding platforms, bouncy trampolines and floating birds, and boxes of TNT. The TNT boxes are used in a number of ways, and there are two types of TNT boxes: brown ones begin flashing when you touch them and explode after a few seconds, while red ones explode immediately on contact. All TNT boxes will set off adjacent boxes when they explode, allowing for long chain reactions where the player must move quickly to outrun a wave of explosions or jump away and glide while waiting for explosions to clear.


There are a few odd level design choices, such as allowing the player to wall jump up the side of the game screen in an early level (rather than jumping up a wall) which is used to find a secret area, but in most levels, attempting to jump against the side of the screen leads to instant death, which goes against its pre-established logic. Later, the player is able to blow up a bunch of TNT boxes, and if he drops down into what appears to be a bottomless pit, he gains access to a “secret” store… but this store is readily accessible from the hub before the player ever locates this so-called secret.


There are a number of boss encounters to be had, although more than half of them appear in the final 10% of the game. Worlds 1 and 2 each consist of six levels and a single boss encounter. World 3 has five levels followed by two boss encounters, with the player running through a tough escape sequence against a mutant seal before facing it in head-on combat. And World 4 has three bosses and no standard levels.


Bosses are defeated by a number of bops to the head, with the exception of an interesting encounter at the end of World 3 where the player needs to use well-timed TNT explosions to attack the boss indirectly. These encounters are not terribly complex, although bosses speed up and toss out more projectiles as battles wear on. Most bosses are fat goofy-looking mutations, fitting in with the game’s overall cartoony illustrated aesthetic. Boss fights are also bookended with a series of illustrated wordless panels showing each creature’s entrance and Ubie’s eventual victory and collection of an additional ship piece.



2D CRED
Super Ubie Island Remix was developed by Notion Games, a studio founded in 2012 by Andrew Augustin. The game is an updated and rebalanced version of Super Ubie Land, a browser-based game released in 2013. Ubie also starred in a mobile game entitled Up Up Ubie in 2012, which also received a remixed browser-based version in 2014. The studio also released a gravity-based platformer called Astro Vault in 2013 (also for browsers), and the astronaut from that game makes a cameo appearance in Super Ubie Island Remix.


Andrew has a background in illustration and graphic design, and his work has been featured in a number of publications, and he is also credited with character designs for The Sims 3: Pets in 2011. The music and sound effects for the original game were created by Calum Bowen, and the music in the remixed version was composed by Andrew Masson. The game was published by Black Shell Media.

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