Clive ‘N’ Wrench
Developer: Dinosaur Bytes
Publisher: Numskull Games
Genre(s): Platformer, Adventure
Platform: Reviewed on Nintendo Switch (Also available on PC and PS4)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 24.02.23
A code was provided for review purposes
Clive ‘N’ Wrench features a monkey and rabbit duo on a quest through time. Is this homage to retro 3D platformers a classic in its own right, or is it better stuck in the past? Find out in this Rapid Review.
A Journey Through Time
Although many of the most-acclaimed 3D platformers surpass me in age, I’ve still grown up playing series like Crash Bandicoot, Sypro, and their subsequent shiny remakes. In fact, Clive ‘N’ Wrench has been in development by solo developer Rob Wass (Dinosaur Bytes) for more than half of my life. As such, it’s not unfair to describe this game – which has been ten years in the making – as a ‘passion project’!
Clive ‘N’ Wrench begins with an animation explaining how the game’s primary antagonist Dr. Daucus has stolen the secret to time travel. Of course, who could be a more suitable pair to bring an end to Neo Corte- I mean, Daucus’ plans than Clive (Rabbit) and Wrench (Monkey)? In truth, the game’s opening animations left me a little disappointed but still effectively introduced the antagonist and his wicked time travelling plans.
After the opening cutscene, I was placed into the game’s hub world. Reminiscent of the ‘hub and spoke’ system found in Disney theme parks, 11 historic levels split off from the central statue. Each of the levels denoted historical eras with aptly named puns such as Middle Age Crisis and Honey I Shrunk The Chimp. Across the game’s ten-hour single-player campaign, I encountered a good mix of environments, with each area being different from the last.
A mix of level themes means a collection of great costumes, and I enjoyed seeing Clive and Wrench dress themselves in an era-appropriate wardrobe. With costumes ranging from full Roman battle garb to a vampire’s cloak, little touches like these capture the creative spark of platformers of old. I played the game across handheld and docked modes, and the game performed very well, albeit at a low resolution.
Ancient Stone Adventure
Each area features open environments to explore before reaching a time-travelling fridge which serves as the level exit. In each of the levels, 10 Ancient Stones are hidden. With stones hidden behind walls, atop buildings, and locked behind key safes, there are plenty of secrets to discover. Throw in a sprinkling of watch collectibles to the mix, and Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a dream for collect-a-thon lovers! This, however, is both a blessing and a curse. To proceed to the next world, I needed to discover and collect 8 out of the 10 Ancient Stones hidden in the level. Unfortunately, this is a task easier than said than done, and I found myself traipsing through previously-complete levels to find ‘just one more’ stone so that I could proceed.
For younger players especially, I think the Ancient Stone quota may be slightly too high. However, I’m sure that online guides will help counteract this problem. Nevertheless, amid the current climate of frenetic and fast-paced games, there’s a rare sense of satisfaction in locating a stone after spending half an hour scouring rooftops and lakes.
Fortunately, travelling around these historical worlds is a delight, and there’s a surprising diversity to the move set. With sideflips, belly flops, and an array of jumps, Clive ‘N’ Wrench isn’t monkey-ing around when it comes to movement. My favourite move of the game is by far the ‘Chimp Chopper.’ Clearly inspired by the hover seen in Ratchet and Clank, Clive ‘N’ Wrench replaces the propeller blades of Clank with a poor monkey being spun around at full speed to enable a rabbit to fly.
In addition to simply looking hilarious, the Chimp Chopper move has some real utility as I was able to crouch jump (with a wahoo resembling that of a certain Italian plumber) and hover across the buildings of an Egyptian city. In terms of combat, the game features a simple spin attack. The combat isn’t complex, nor does it need to be. Games like Crash Bandicoot never featured elaborate combat skill trees, and this platformer is no different. Although locating collectibles may be difficult, I found the combat to hit just the sweet spot, with enemies able to be taken down in just one hit. What’s more, the game uses carrot cake as the HP system – just what a rabbit needs!
Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a love letter to platformers of old. Sure, by modern standards, the animations may have some rough edges, and the difficulty may be a tad too high. However, there’s clearly been a huge amount of heart, and soul poured into the game. It’s also full of easter eggs and cameos. Clive N’ Wrench is a game made by a developer who clearly cherishes gaming – both past and present. If you’re looking to play a retro platformer made today, Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a perfect choice.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Clive N’ Wrench for £24.99 from the Nintendo eShop
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.