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PAX East 2019: Wunderling

An auto-runner? In 2019? I’m starting to think this mechanic is more common than I realized. Anyway, ever played a Super Mario Bros. game before? Retroid’s Wunderling is a parody of the franchise where the hero is an anthropomorphic carrot and the Bowser is a Wicked Witch who “adopted” the princess. The titular wunderling is the equivalent of a goomba, a mindless enemy who simply walks back and forth until stomped on. However, after being enchanted by the witch, they gain the ability to jump.

From there, you guide the wunderling through a series of side-scrolling levels. They move on their own and turn around when they hit a wall, and you tell them when to jump. The levels in the demo I played didn’t have any enemies, the major obstacles were pits, bubbles that would send me back a few feet when I hit them, and insta-kill spikes. Most of the variety came from new mechanics like boost pads or mushrooms that would act as springs. There’s a couple different types of levels, and I’d sort them into “platforming-focused” or “puzzle focused”. An example of the former would be the level where the floor was entirely boost pads, and I had to jump between spikes; while an example of the latter would be the level where I had to find a series of keys to open the door to the exit.

Both of these are made a lot more interesting by the fact that you can’t stop or change direction. If you want to turn around, you have to hit a wall, and if you’re walking towards a hazard, you can’t slow down and plan a path. According to the developer I spoke to, once you catch up to carrot man you’ll have a boss fight, except in this scenario you’re the boss. You’ll be transformed into a much more dangerous creature than the wunderling, and tasked with taking down carrot man. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try one of the fights, but they seem very fun.

Wunderling will be releasing later this year for Switch, and possibly some other consoles.

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