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Mechanically works well enough in principle, but the overall design leaves something to be desired
Given the current age of the Switch and the preponderance of quality games of just about every type you can imagine at nearly every price point, it has to be a bit intimidating trying to release a new game and then hope for it not to get drowned out before it even had a chance to be recognized at all. In order to help minimize risks you could try to target less represented genres, or outright aim for some sort of niche audience, but some folks are willing to pull the trigger and just hope for the best. Trying to break into the budget platforming action space, one of the system’s most crowded, late in the game is precisely what the developers behind Teppo and the Secret Agent City have done, and while it has some merits it struggles mightily to make a case for itself in a space jam packed with quality offerings at every price point.Still, starting with the positive, Teppo does have some elements that shine some positive light. First, for a budget pixel art platformer it at least has some decent visuals on its side. While its character sprites and most of your general surroundings may not be mind-blowing in any particular way, there are at least some cool touches like waterfalls you’ll move behind and some lighting that at least help it to distinguish itself a bit visually. Additionally, while the core controls are relatively basic they’re at least pretty crisp and implemented well, something not all games in the space can always claim.Unfortunately, while it gets some of those details right, especially keeping its humble price in mind, there are other areas where it struggles. Chief among my concerns would be the overall level design, or what I’d say it the general lack of decent design. Without a doubt the stages are unnecessarily big and lacking in much personality. Granted, checkpoints help to try to make starting over after you die a bit less painful, but on a general level stages just feel very by the numbers and far too repetitive for their own good. There may be some subtle differences in each layer you’ll move through between checkpoints, but on the whole you start feeling like you’ve seen certain layout elements or arrangements of enemies pretty often. Worse, the fact that all enemies regularly respawn, and not always on a predictable interval, and there are sections where you’ll take damage simply trying to get by enemies you’ve already beaten happening to come back while you’re trying to go by where they died. Compounding that frustration further is the pretty cheap nature of traps designed to whittle down your life in places, like being attacked while your view is partially obscured by a waterfall or other pretty lame methods of level design that aren’t challenging because they’re well-designed, they can just be tough to see, and this can get aggravating.All things considered, this is hardly a terrible game, but for the most part it struggles to try to be a memorable one, at least in a positive way. It looks and plays well enough overall if you set the bar relatively low, but taking into account its competition it’s obviously quite far from being regarded positively. A bit more of a focus on pacing, consistency, or finding something meaningful that would help set it apart could have bumped it up a bit but as is it’s just uninspiring.
Justin Nation, Score: