PC, Playstation, Xbox, Switch
The Many Pieces Of Mr. Coo contains the best animation I have ever seen in a game. Stand aside Cuphead, Nacho Rodriquez’s astonishing hand-drawn cartoon work is like nothing else I’ve played. This surreal, amazingly peculiar point-n-click game looks like nothing else. If only it didn’t fall to pieces toward the end. However, there’s a mad twist to why.
If you want to understand why I’m so excited by how this game looks, then indulge in this:
The style, seeming to exist on the exact midpoint of classic 1970s Spanish animation, and the 90s post-Ren & Stimpy wildness, is utterly compelling to watch. Creatures twist in and out of existence, inanimate objects turn into animals, or bizarre, unsettling beings.
At first, interaction is relatively minimal, mostly just finding the right place to click to see the next wave of animated brilliance unfold. Then, as the game progresses, more coherent puzzles begin to appear, in which objects must be interacted with in the correct order, or locations must be reached through exploration. And then, at a certain point, our hero character – Mr. Coo – gets chopped into three pieces.
In fact, this happens so far into the game I’d consider it a spoiler were it not how the whole short game is marketed, and indeed titled. From this point, the game becomes more concentratedly a game, as you attempt to reunite the three sections, each capable of moving independently. While it would be hard to describe a surrealist game about moving chopped-up body parts as any kind of normal, it’s at this point that the puzzles certainly become more conventional.
However, it’s also when issues start to arise.
The puzzles are great! It’s about working out how to get Mr. Coo’s different body slices to work independently on shared tasks. At one point it’s about retrieving a key from the top of a tall tower, via, um, rolling a bottle containing eyeballs, interacting with a hook-tailed beast in a cage, and creating a pathway for his feet that uses his nose as a platform. The issue is, the further I got, the more bugs began to impede my progress.
By the last section of the game, I had various parts of Mr. Coo pinging out of existence and reappearing elsewhere on the screen, or interacting with objects I hadn’t clicked on, or refusing to swap between the different slices. In the final moments, it was such a cluster that it was more about random clicking than deliberate actions.
I play through so many games for Buried Treasure that end so badly that I don’t cover them, wasting miserable amounts of my time (and the patience of Patreons). Mr. Coo perhaps should be treated the same way, for falling apart so significantly in its closing moments (I’ve seen from the scant coverage it’s received that the console versions are similarly plagued), but it’s just so unbelievably, astonishingly well-animated, that I could not. What I didn’t know when I came to this conclusion was just how unfair these failings appear to be on the creator of the art.
That gets tougher when it costs £11, admittedly. This is a short game, maybe three hours max, and that’s a lot of money for something so brief, and so eventually broken. Ideally, I’d love to see the issues get addressed, the bugs fixed, and then its stunning animation would be worth every penny.
But I promised you a mad twist. Yesterday, the game’s creator and animator, Nacho Rodriguez, put a statement up on the game’s Steam discussion pages, explaining that the game had been released without his approval.
He explains that having worked on the game since 2012, and full-time since 2018, the animations were finished by 2020. However, in 2018 he partnered with Spanish publisher Gammera Nest, with the company “in charge of the port to consoles and PC.” (I think by this he means the process of taking the animation and helping turn it into a game.) He then goes on to allege,
“Gammera’s programming got messier and messier. Eventually, they began to cut me out of the decision-making process, while continuing to promise that they would deliver on their end.”
Rodriguez says that by the time he realised the game wasn’t of a good enough quality, it was “too late”. He asked for the release to be cancelled or postponed, but obviously that didn’t happen. He then goes on to review it far more succinctly than I did.
“Players have encountered all kinds of bugs and poor gameplay, especially in the last third of the game. Although it can be played from start to finish, and the experience sometimes reaches the desired quality, it eventually degenerates into something unpleasant and not very satisfying.”
The post adds that there is apparently a chunk of his animation work that has been left out, and also implies that Gammera has not been quick to respond to the widespread complaints of the game’s broken state. I’ve contacted Gammera to ask them for a response to these allegations, and to ask if the game’s bugs will be addressed. I’ll update should they reply.
It’s obviously worth holding off on Mr. Coo until this bizarre situation is somewhere nearer resolved, and the bugs fixed. I’ll update this review should that happen. (And for those who notice the secret scores, I’m holding off on deciding that in this peculiar circumstance.) Hopefully this can find a better ending, both in life and in the game. Because wow, there’s nothing else out there that looks like this.
Update: I received a statement back from Gammera Nest, which avoids directly referencing the conflict between them and Rodriguez, while countering some of his statements. The references to bugs don’t reflect my own experience, as I played the game weeks after its release.
“Regarding your questions, we refer back to what we’ve already mentioned: Nacho Rodríguez is an artist and has done magnificent work. The game was hand-drawn, frame by frame, and the entire process was directed and overseen by Nacho Rodríguez himself, who even decided on its duration. This development continued well into 2023 when it was time to adapt it for consoles. During this adaptation process of the existing work, we corrected technical and visual errors and implemented some aspects that had been left out during development. However, the release date was set in stone, for both Nacho and us. After all, we are launching a game that spans 13 different versions and 3 different territories simultaneously.
Unfortunately, as we’ve said, creating such a handmade game is a complex process and we were aware that there were errors. Most of them were fixed in day 1 patches for consoles and PC. Only the Nintendo version, due to its policy of waiting five days for each patch, is delayed. Furthermore, being a small studio and even though the game underwent QA processes, we asked the gaming community, which has been extremely kind, to help us find more issues (you’ll see most of them get fixed immediately). We appreciate all of you for this.
And that’s the story of a little gem that has finally seen the light of day. I hope your readers enjoy it. As for us, know that we love your page and your work.”
- Nacho Rodriguez, Gammera Nest
- Steam, Playstation, Xbox, Switch
- £11/$15/€20 (Steam prices, consoles are higher, and no, that Euro price is correct…)
- Official Site