Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 01/21/2022 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
No one expected the Wii U’s last game to be a glorious swan song as, to most of the gaming industry, nothing about the Wii U was particularly glorious (an opinion with which I will disagree until my dying breath), but Captain U, while a fun and competent game to be the Wii U’s last, definitely isn’t the “bang” of a final game I wish the system had gotten.
Captain U by Ultra Dolphin Revolution is basically a massive love letter not only to the glory days of the NES (the name is an obvious homage to Captain N) but also to UDR’s other games with cameos by their previous game’s villains and obstacles are thrown throughout. The game is a platformer that would be right at home on the NES if the colors and on-screen sprites weren’t a bit more than the NES could probably handle. It’s only nine levels long, but those levels are increasingly difficult, and when I say increasingly, I mean steeply. You get a handful of lives and no continues. If you know what you’re doing and don’t die, you can probably clear the game in 45 minutes or so, but it took me a solid four hours to be able to get through it, and that successful last run was 100% my getting lucky.
What makes Captain U more than just another generic pixel art platformer is the use of the Wii U Gamepad. Captain U himself has a “Power Pad” that he can use with the press of the A button. This leaves you defenseless but allows you to interact with some parts of the environment via the Gamepad’s touch screen. Some enemies can be stunned or harmed by tapping them, some platforms can be moved by dragging them on the touch screen, and some platforms move in response to tilting the Gamepad. You can also destroy destructible blocks by tapping them and place very short-lived temporary blocks to serve as platforms by tapping the touch screen. It’s certainly not the most brilliant use of the Gamepad screen that we’ve seen on the Wii U, but it’s a great one nonetheless, and beyond that, it’s awesome to see a new Wii U release in the last days of 2021.
Most people don’t play their Wii U anymore (you know, of the twelve people in the world who bought one in the first place), but Captain U is definitely a reason to dust it off. It’s short, it’s not at all complex, and it’s yet another 8-bit style game the likes of which have grossly oversaturated the market, but it oozes “love letter” and was developed specifically as a send-off for the Wii U. If you’re a fan of the console as I am, you definitely need to check out Captain U. It’s cheap, and even if you never finish it, it’s fun to pick up and play a little bit here and there.