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Pucca Power Up Review

Despite iconic status in Korea- where Pucca’s likeness can be found on items ranging from Kleenex, cutlery, and adult-sized scooters, the character hasn’t quite broken into the upper echelons of stardom within the United States. At least some of the blame can be placed on an irregular television schedule, which saw the character shuffled across Toon Disney, Jetix, and Disney XD. Despite this minor obstacle, Pucca’s dogged determination and irrefutable adorability may provide the plucky 10-year old with a chance to charm American audiences through an alternative medium.

Recent DS release Pucca’s Power Up offers a furtively feministic adaptation of the damsel in distress formula. The game opens with the heroine in pursuit of the ninja-in-training, Garu- whose dedication to shinobi-ship prohibits overt reciprocation. Once her shuriken-throwing sweetheart is kidnapped, Power Up subverts conventional gender roles, tasking Pucca with the liberation. Although stages alternate control between the two protagonists, the abilities of each character are quite similar. Both Pucca and Garu have the capacity to double jump over obstacles, melee strike adjacent threats, and each has a limited supply of ranged shots. Ideally, there should have been more variance between the two characters. Even the duos’ boost of invincibility- initiated by tapping the touchscreen after collecting enough chili icons is woefully similar.

Fortunately, the title’s mechanics and level design helps to overcome the homogeneity of the game’s heroes. Power Up’s jumps are responsive, and thankfully, never require pixel-perfect precision. While Pucca and Garu aren’t especially powerful, frequently requiring three swings to dispatch a foe, the wholesale elimination of all enemies isn’t the game’s goal. At best, vanquishing a villain offers a health replenishing cha siu bao- but given the game’s generous health bar and checkpoint system, the perk is rarely needed.

Once players traverse the game’s early stages, Pucca Power Up’s level design becomes much more labyrinthine. As players scale the game’s halfway point, levels conceal subterranean alcoves, while switches need to be flipped before advancements can be made. With six worlds, each possessing three to five stages, Power Up isn’t especially long, with a main adventure that can be completed during an unwavering weekend run. Complementing the main campaign, a couple of supplementary pursuits await players. A sextet of minigames, which range from the stylus-slicing of ninjas to a Frogger-like scamper across logs are all fairly simple. More interesting is the title’s shopping component, where players can trade the game’s gingerbread men collectibles to fortify their health bar or arsenal, as well as unlock additional levels and cinematics.

While all of Power Up’s worlds have a different visual theme, there’s bit of asset recycling in each realm as players surmount the same sets of traps and pass reoccurring background objects. Other than that blemish, the title’s graphics are well drawn and highlighted by the sporadic effect, like vanquished villains flying toward the DS screen. Sonically, Pucca and Garu’s communicative mumbles as well as the game’s spirited soundtrack are both proficient at conveying the game’s upbeat vibe.

Although Pucca Power Up can’t quite compete against Nintendo’s celebrated first-party platformers, the cartridge is an enjoyable jaunt which should captivate younger players. Like most competent titles aimed at a youthful demographic, the game has enough easy-going appeal to pique the interest of the open-minded, mature set.  While Garu might disagree, Pucca’s charms are difficult to resist.


About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

20 comments

  1. Hello Kitty Ninja Girl?

    Why the hell not?

  2. seems like a serviceable platformer. Nothing worst getting excited about.

  3. When most sites are covering Gears of War 3, you guys are reviewing Pucca?!?

    I guess it makes sense.

    • If everybody is doing the same thing, wouldn’t it make sense to do something else and not get lost in the shuffle?

  4. Forget the haters. Pucca is cool.

    Might have to pick it up.

  5. It’s a game aimed at kids that doesn’t suck. Id like to see more of these.

  6. cha siu bao=Chinese Pork Buns
    Pucca=Korean
    Ninjas=Japanese

    What the hell is this?!?

  7. I played the Pucca Wiiware demo and it wasn’t so hot. Same developers or a new team?

  8. Good review Deagle. But are you going to cover Gears?

  9. Seems cute but a bit blocky. Maybe thats because the screenshots are bigger than the DS screen.

  10. My gf loved the Pucca flash ‘toons, and I’m sure she would like to play this. Good review.

  11. Is there any place on line to watch Pucca? She’s not on XD anymore?

  12. This is the first time I’ve heard of Pucca. Not a bid Disney fan.

    • Pucca isn’t Disney though, you mostly find Pucca stuff at Sanrio stores, though I don’t think Pucca is a Sanrio product either.

  13. It would be nice if they sold this one for $20 instead of $30.

  14. Cool I might get this for my daughter. Ive been looking for a good DS game for her with a female character. Her favorite game is Princess Peach.

  15. I can’t seem to find the game ANYWHERE except online. What B&M stores have it?