Rare Review: Underwurlde

This frog-like jump has no way to correct yourself mid-jump.

Underwurlde received lots of glowing reviews when it came out. Sometimes even if you dislike an older game, you can still see why it was great at the time. With Underwurlde, I just can’t see it at all.

This is another maze-like game. There are 600 squares so without a guide there is little hope. You need to find three guardians and kill them, but each one needs a different weapon to defeat it, so you’ll need to find them first. Then you have to reach one of the exits at the top of the map (or you can always head down to kill more enemies for points.

The biggest issue with Underwurlde are the controls. The jumping in this game is not a controlled jump. You’re turned into some kind of frog-like thing and you leap in a massic arc across half the screen. As the screen doesn’t scroll, this means some jumps are completely blind, and any large fall will kill you. In the castle area of the map, you need to jump upwards, so you’ll often try to position yourself for a precise jump, however if you go too close to the edge, Sabreman will jump downwards. Moving around is incredibly frustrating.

There are also a ton of enemies flying about. Before you get your first weapon, you can’t defeat them. At first it seems lucky that enemies don’t damage you, however they instead knock you around, causing you to fall and die. There are sections where you’re riding a bubble upwards, being hounded by loads of respawning enemies and one touch will knock you down. To make matters worse, your weapon fires in random directions (they roughly go the way you’re facing, but will go upwards and downward on their own). There’s a good reason why there is an option for “no enemies” in the cheats.

In the cavern area, Sabreman will latch himself to a rope. You can shimmy downwards and move left and right a bit. If an enemy hits you, or you bash into the side of a platform, you’ll fall and die. Sometimes a stalactite will fall down so you’ll have to swing sideways to dodge. Sometimes this happens the moment  you latch to the ceiling, so it’s an instant unavoidable death. 

Underwurlde is a game filled with cheap deaths, terrible controls, platforming into areas blindly and all while trying to navigate an overly large maze. A truly terrible game.

For completion, I killed the three guardians, escaped the maze and completed the snapshots. The one where you have to descend quickly while invulnerability gems last much longer is great fun as you get to throw yourself down giant holes.

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