Did someone say Mega Drive-style platformer?
After the Great Ecological Catastrophe, the ultrarich flee to Mars and leave the rest to perish. But among them a small child who developed immunity to the hostile planet remains. Decades pass and those on Mars venture back to Earth to do recon. When they spot a small human child, The Cub, they immediately try to capture it. This sets off a journey of escape, exploration and discovery through the urban ruins of humanity coupled with frantic cat and mouse chases.
One glimpse of The Cub and I was teleported back to my childhood, playing Aladdin and The Lion King on the Sega Mega Drive (or Sega Genesis to my American friends). These games were notoriously difficult and I had actually only beat them for the first real time without cheats when I played the 2021 PS4 version of the Disney Classic Games Collection. Despite the difficulty at the time, what stood out was how good a licensed game actually could be and it really was fun back in the day, so how about a game in 2024 that provides a similar experience? The Cub aims to do just that…
The Cub definitely delivers on that nostalgic vibe but it also does add a few extra twists and turns to make it stand out from the games that inspired it. It is definitely challenging with it’s fast parkour precision platforming and one hit kills, while still delivering the fun that I remember from games like these. The story is also an interesting one and even though the game can be beat in around 3-4 hours if you’re good enough, it will definitely stay with you longer than that.
The controls are simple enough but can sometimes feel a bit stiff when trying to pull off jumps when you need that level of precision. It’s not the worst I’ve come across with platformers for sure, but it does hold it back slightly from hitting that level of quality that the Mega Drive platformers pulled off back in the day.
The visuals are strong with an art style like the classic animated films of the late 90s – Atlantis, Tarzan, Road to El Dorado, while also taking a page from Samurai Jack’s creator Genndy Tartakovsky’s critically acclaimed series, Primal. The soundtrack is engaging and full of chilled tunes, as well as a radio DJ to keep things fresh.
The Cub tries to live up to the pinnacle of early 90s platformers and delivers, mostly. It looks and sounds the part; it’s just the stiff controls can be frustrating at times. Still, it’s the best homage to the classic Mega Drive platformers I’ve come across in quite some time.