Ask a gamer what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you pair the words squirrel and platformer and more than likely they will answer Conker. Super Little Acorns 3D just so happens to be another platformer with a squirrel protagonist but this wholesome 2D adventure differs from the foulmouthed 3D hijinks in Conker quite dramatically. Does Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo’s Mr. Pesky manage to make a name for himself that stands proud in the ranks of great videogame squirrels (clearly not, no one in their right mind would name themselves Mr. Pesky)?
A brief intro cinematic explains that Mr. Pesky, the patriarch of a large squirrel family, returns home to find that his babies and acorns have been stolen. This sets the adventure in motion to rescue all the squirrels and horde as many acorns as possible. Most of your time is spent collecting things; your primary objective in each level is to collect all the acorns strewn about the course. Once that is done you can head to the door to move on to the next level or you can push your luck with the remaining time on the clock and try to collect the five fruits that appear only after you've gathered all of the acorns. Additional objectives include defeating all the enemies in a level and beating the mission within a special shorter time limit. During an ideal mission run you would accomplish all four objectives, however because that is unlikely you will likely return to each mission several times to conquer each objective individually. Returning for all of these goodies pads out your play time and will help you unlock more costumes for Mr. Pesky, which range from a pirate costume to a mini tuxedo.
The bottom screen displays information such as what objectives you have completed and can be used to make selections on the menu. The controls are rudimentary, using the Circle-pad or D-pad for movement and the A button to jump. The Circle-pad can seem slippery at times but the amount of in-air control feels appropriate and is forgiving enough that the timing of your jumps is easy to nail. You can defeat most enemies by jumping on their heads. The introduction of a grappling hook early on is put to great use throughout the game and will have you swiftly swinging around levels to access areas normal jumps cannot reach. If you get hit your penalty is that Mr. Pesky will move very slowly for a few seconds before recovering his normal speed. The game would be significantly more challenging, and probably more interesting, if your character died when hit instead but with a fast completion time being so integral to the gameplay, you'll do your best to avoid unwanted contact anyway.
There are three power-ups that spice up the gameplay. The first is Super Squirrel which will make you invulnerable and able to destroy enemies on contact. Another power-up will give you the ability to run and jump really fast. The last power-up allows you to jump much higher and farther than normal. The three power-ups work well on their own and in concert, especially when levels are designed around utilizing all three. Another, less important collectible is a clock that grants extra time for you to complete the level.
The game is broken up into three years that are further subdivided into the four seasons. At the end of each season you will play through a special level where you have to collect 30 baby squirrels (Mr. and Mrs. Pesky sure do keep busy) in addition to all of the routine objectives. The end of each year is capped off by a boss battle of sorts that boils down to a race from one end of the level to the other while being pursued by an over-sized monster. These encounters are mildly amusing but are not challenging enough to reward the player with any real sense of accomplishment for all that preceded them.
Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo is criminally short. Saying that the adventure spans 60 levels makes the content sound more substantial than it actually is. I had beaten the game and seen just about everything Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo had to offer in less than 3 hours of playtime. Now I happily admit that I found those 3 hours relatively enjoyable but it still felt a tad pricey for $8, doubly so given that Super Acorns 3D is a port of an iOS game which is currently available for only a fraction of that price. New to this addition are the 3D visuals, a turbo mode that speeds the gameplay up, and 30 unique challenges to complete. However, none of this quite justifies the steep price point, either in relation to the iOS version or on its own merits.
The 3D adds little to the game’s 2D visuals, although these visuals are charming enough in their own right. The sound design is enjoyable and draws form the usual whimsical platformer wheelhouse of wacky sound effects. The surprisingly funkadelic soundtrack is a nice touch and will like keep you playing with the volume on the 3DS way up.
Super Little Acorns 3D definitely has some aspects worthy of merit, like the cutesy art style and crisp platforming, but its tall price and short length are its ultimate undoing. In sum it adds up to an experience that is forgettable and unless you are a completionist at heart you won't care enough to gather 100% of the items available to collect either. If the game ever goes on sale then fans of 2D Platforming should not hesitate to snatch this one up, but as it stands you are better off spending your time elsewhere.
This review is based on a purchased digital copy of Super Little Acorns 3D for 3DS.