Unit 4 Reviews

Official Site Review

By Cindy Minguez, 1 year ago
Unit 4 is a new platformer from Gamera Games recently hitting the Xbox One via the ID@ Xbox program. The title sees the crew of the Unit 4 spaceship trying to stop an alien invasion of the galaxy. Can you save your galaxy's worlds from being overrun?

Unit 4Unit 4

Unit 4 is a fun old-school platformer with a twist. Instead of one protagonist, you have four — the four crew members of your spaceship. They're easy to remember: Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow. All of them can jump but each guy also has different abilities. Red can charge like a running attack; he can use this to kill enemies or flash from one location to another. Blue can double jump and stick to walls, scaling between them when necessary. Green uses a grappling hook to stick to ceilings or kill enemies, and Yellow can turn into a ghost, which allows her to move through walls or briefly possess and immobilize enemies. To successfully navigate the world, you must learn to proficiently move among these four ability sets, using the Left and Right triggers to scroll from character to character.

The bread and butter of the game is old-school platforming. The four skill sets of your crew make for some variety, but at heart, it's old-school all the way. The retro graphics fit the title perfectly. Early on, the game induces a nice nostalgic feeling for those of us who played a lot of Mario. The game's difficulty ramps up pretty quickly, however. Somewhere during the first dungeon (Doomo - your home planet), memories of the later stages of Norse by Norsewest, another old puzzle platformer of which the latter stages were devilishly hard, started to appear.

The unforgiving nature of the game is evident in the difficulty. The game shares many similarities with traditional platformers — moving platforms, thorny platforms that kill, enemies that require you to drop on their heads — and it won't cut you any slack. It took hours to finish Doomo, the very first planet/dungeon. The game's controls are sensitive, often making it tough to land precisely on a soldier's head, and if you drop beside him and he touches you...poof! You're dead. It's very easy to over-jump with Blue, resulting in lots and lots of extra deaths. Once spikes start showing up on walls, floors, and ceilings, the overly sensitive controls make for lots of frustration.

Watch out!Watch out!

Enemies aren't too bad. Green can take out most of them with his grappling hook or Red can smash them; it's the jumping that can be so stupidly difficult. Collapsible leaves will drop just that half-second too soon. An enemy you can't reach will shoot you while you're trying to dodge those spikes, or you'll drop off the bottom of the screen and die because you had nowhere to go on that rapidly moving log. You'll hit areas that have you jumping onto platforms covered with bouncers in places with spikes covering every surface. Yellow's ghost ability can make you immune to bullets, which can be very useful, but even ghost won't protect you from the spikes.

This is all in the first area of the game. The most annoying feature of the game is that you're only given one life to work with and this is just too unforgiving. As levels become more demanding, the ample checkpoints (which bank your money for you, as well) become even more frequent, but being able to take a hit or two now and then would have helped a lot. Even having three hearts or ways to pick up extra life on a level would have been a great addition.

After saving each area, new planets will unlock. The developer does a nice job of mixing up the gameplay, introducing new challenges with different planets while keeping the core platforming elements in place. The next planet you'll need to save is 1CY-F1R3, and in keeping with its name, when the platforming begins, you'll find yourself slip-sliding around on icy surfaces. As in the first area, only one planet is playable and most of the others are just for fun, except for those with vendors. For example, Gamutu becomes available and he sells character skins so you can change the look of your crew if you wish. You can take breaks from your platforming by visiting other planets, although these are for novelty's sake more than anything. There's not much to do at these places except pick up a memento or get ushered along.

The first boss.The first boss.

The game has a great sense of humor. Right from the get go, you'll be laughing at the crew's teeny loin clothes — they all have them except for Yellow. Another example is one of the planets you can visit; BR3XT is a planet that wants no help and no visitors; its residents will escort you out of their airspace. They just want to be left alone! The game is full of references, both subtle and not-so subtle, to movies, other games, and current events like Brexit.

Lastly are the achievements, and these will be hard to complete for players without terrific platforming skills. Replying to Boss on the ships radio in four different ways will net you four easy ones. You pick up achievements for killing certain numbers of enemies, for using each of the four primary skills a certain number of times or for x amount of time, and for defeating the boss of each planet. Purchasing items from Gamutu and Pablo will get you a few more. Completing mini-games provides roughly half a dozen. Half of the achievements will likely be picked up through natural gameplay. Several, however, will require both skill and dedication. To 100% the game, you must get 100% completion on every planet, which means getting every coin and finding every secret. You must also beat every boss without dying. None of these will be simple, so if you're a completionist, be sure of your skills before you start this one.

Summary

Unit 4 is a fun old-school style platformer that requires various skills accessed by scrolling through four different characters. Its infectious humor and varied platforming challenges makes for a good time, but the fun is tempered by the challenge of making it through areas of increasing difficulty with only one life available; some sections will require numerous repeats from checkpoints. The game's difficulty level also ramps up early on, guaranteeing some trying gameplay for much of the game. The game's achievements are nice mix of easy and difficult, providing a nice selection of challenges, but with the 100% and no-dying-allowed boss fight requirements, it will not be a fast or easy completion except for those with amazing platforming instincts. For those who enjoy a good old-fashioned platformer, Unit 4 is one to keep in mind next time you're looking to buy.
3.5 / 5
Unit 4
Positives
  • Nice use of different character abilities
  • Fun old-school style platforming
  • Good sense of humor
Negatives
  • Only one life
  • Can be stupidly hard
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent about 8 hours exploring, jumping, killing, and dying A LOT, earning 20 of the game's 44 achievements. An Xbox One download code was provided by the ID@Xbox program for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
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