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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Review: Super Daryl Deluxe

Review: Super Daryl Deluxe

Do you even have any skills? You know, like nunchuck skills, bow-hunting skills...

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Super Daryl Deluxe
Dan and Gary Games | Nintendo Switch | Digital Only
1 Player
Reviewed by: Curtis Chapman | 10th April 2018

Developers Commentary by: Dan Plate & Gary Porter - Dan and Gary Games

* Review Code Provided by: Dan and Gary Games / Stride PR *

Nintendo Play is joined by Dan Plate and Gary Porter , Co-Founders of Dan and Gary Games, for the included Developers Commentary.

A strange kid, a robotic vice-principal, a princess and a surreal obsession with text books are just a few of the eccentricities to greet you in the new 2D Action RPG Super Daryl Deluxe from Dan and Gary Games. Launching today on Nintendo Switch for the tidy price of £17.99, what are you going to do today? Whatever you feel like, gosh!

School is an awkward period for everyone; it doesn’t matter if you’re a Nerd, a Jock a Goth or a Cheerleader, they are clearly inherently designed to intimidate. The cliques, the oddball teachers, the long hallways of nothingness and the threats of a trip to the principal are only to name a few of the horrors that young minds face on a daily basis. All in all High School is the perfect setting for an intense Action-RPG.

Daryl is our adolescent teen protagonist with the charismatic appeal as a mute Napoleon Dynamite, sporting a headband and bellbottom trousers he is the epitome of uncool. He transfers to Water Falls High School where it is quickly apparent something strange is afoot, the majority of classes are either suspended or canceled and with the bulk of the course curriculum consisting of study breaks. Anarchy rains and knowledge is power, with textbooks becoming the most sought-after commodity to those still interested in an education. After inadvertently becoming a lackey for Paul and Alan, two bully entrepreneurs trying to compete for a market share in the textbook game against the infamous trench coat gang, you’re sent out on various errands and encounter strange foes and even stranger friends on your travels; but with the craziness of everything that is going on, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate Daryl’s fantasy from the insane reality that is Water Falls High School.

Developers Commentary
Dan: From day one, Gary and I set out to just make some stupid game about our experiences from high school, but as development progressed things became less about our inside jokes and more bizarre. This is the first time either of us has worked on a really long story like this, and our method of writing - which basically amounts to us just trying make each other laugh (perhaps with the help of a drink or two) - took us to some really peculiar places.

Super Daryl Deluxe Screenshot 1

Super Daryl Deluxe is a single-player 2D side-scrolling Action RPG. While this genre isn’t chock full of similar titles on the Switch its gameplay could loosely be compared to NES classic Legend of Zelda 2 or online PC titles Maple Story/Wonder King Online. Containing all the staples of a good action RPG; a strong main narrative based quest line, numerous sub-quests, upgradable active/passive skills to employ and a wide assortment of weapons and armour to collect, there’s certainly a lot of play time packed in to this title to cater to those willing to tackle more than merely the game’s main story.

Developers Commentary
Gary: It’s interesting you point out Maple Story because I took a lot of inspiration from 2D MMOs that I played while growing up. A major one for me was a relatively unheard of game called Ghost Online. My time spent playing those games shaped Daryl’s combat style drastically, and I even modeled a skill or two after some of my favorites from my MMO days.

The World Ends With You was also a major inspiration with their pin system. SDD’s combat system is very similar, with a large pool of abilities that you can swap out, upgrade, and experiment with. I think it suits the world well and keeps a long RPG from becoming repetitive or boring, as you can constantly change the way you play the game.

Bizarre and offbeat are a central theme and run through absolutely every element of this title. As you battle through an ancient pyramid on the request of Julius Caesar, equipped with a pair of cactus hands and wearing the body of a sentient xylophone as armor, this should quickly become apparent.

Falling prey to a design choice made in many online RPG’s, Super Daryl Deluxe sometimes features repetitive sub-quests that task the player with “fetching” specific items that occasionally drop from defeated enemies. These fetch quests are commonplace in similar titles and often feel like padding, designed to stretch out the amount of content in a title. While this form of questing can become stale in other titles, the general wackiness of the requests and the fact they are completely optional and do not gate progress through the game’s main story softens the blow somewhat.

Developers Commentary
Gary: From the beginning, SDD has been primarily about making people laugh. I knew that having fetch quests would be a turn off for some people (which is why the majority of them are optional), but we used it as a catalyst for storytelling and character building. With the sheer amount of characters in the game it’s hard to give them all proper backgrounds and dialogue, especially when you have a completely silent protagonist, so we injected personality into many characters by making them request stupid items from Daryl almost constantly.

It allowed us to write truly bizarre situations into the game without having to directly tie them into the game’s main story, which I think (hope?) works well in this really insane world we created.

It also plays up the trope of Daryl being the “perfect” RPG character - he simply stares and breathes at people until they ask him to do something and he does it without question. Even if it’s something as dumb as collecting broken glass for a student to eat.

Super Daryl Deluxe Screenshot 2

As your character advances in level, base stats such as health and strength increases as well. The game’s difficulty is balanced nicely, with your character's prowess in battle mirroring well that of the enemies you are tasked with defeating on your progress through the game’s main story. If you do find yourself struggling, however, it is completely possible to return to any area you are comfortable with and repeatedly kill enemies until you feel strong enough to proceed, a process known to many interested in the genre as “grinding”.

As well as equipping new weapons and armor, finding textbooks on your travels allows you to purchase new attack skills or use them to upgrade your already acquired skills, altering how they perform in battle. With five skills available at any one time, each one mapped to one of your controller buttons, finding the best mix of skills for your personal play style and the types of enemies you are currently battling is imperative to success.

On your initial play, you are greeted with a short introduction level, a pre-tutorial in the form of a flash forward as it were. Like that scene in a movie that gives you a glimpse of what’s to come and features our main protagonist in a godlike state, swatting away swathes of enemies with his many maxed out skills and a seemingly unlimited health bar. While the difficulty has been toned down to a point where it is almost impossible to lose, the players initial lack of appreciation toward to nuances of a combat system that many will be unfamiliar with, coupled with the expectation to understand and utilise all of the skills they are presented with causes the player to fumble through, potentially turning the player off to the initially bizarre combat, or at the very least, wrongly giving a bad first impression of a fantastic title.

Developers Commentary
Dan: You know, I think it’s a fair first impression. A problem we struggled with through development was how to give the player a sense of what’s to come later on in the game as far as combat goes. Like the obvious thing for us to do early on was give the player nothing but Daryl in the beginning - no skills, nothing - and just let the player start from there. And we tried that, but the problem was that seemed to bore people because the good stuff took too long to get to.

So we went back to the drawing board and redesigned how the game begins - put Daryl in a strange daydream, give the player some skills to try out, and throw them right into some action. Player receptions for the beginning improved drastically after that.

The game’s art style fluctuates with the trippy nature of the game's theme, with the predominantly cartoon-like visuals and smooth character animations sitting next to faux-3d elements and photo-realistic images that occasionally make levels look as creative as some of the images found in Terry Gilliam’s artwork for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Coupled with the excellently produced and equally bizarre musical score, the whole package comes together nicely, made easier by the fact the games randomness makes unifying a theme (or not, as the case may be) a whole lot more forgiving.

Developers Commentary
Dan: On behalf of me, Miles (the sound designer), and Adriel (our composer), thanks! Keeping things fresh throughout the game was a huge challenge, especially with hundreds of backgrounds. Luckily for us, the game’s credo is basically “the more bizarre, the better,” so I could work with whatever crazy idea I had on any given day. This allowed me to pursue all sorts of styles, often times resulting in a map looking like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie. I was raised on The Far Side, Dilbert, Calvin & Hobbes, Robotman, you know - the daily comics, so those influences are all over the place in SDD.

Super Daryl Deluxe Screenshot 3

It is fair to say that Super Daryl Deluxe stands as a giant in a genre that is severely underrepresented on the Nintendo Switch. With a cool art style, wacky story and tons of content it is an essential purchase for lovers of action RPG’s. Daryl may not be the coolest guy at Water Fall High School, but his game is certainly one of the coolest Action-RPG entries currently available on Nintendo’s newest hybrid Console.

Many thanks to Dan & Gary for their discussion during this review.


+ Wacky and completely original story
+ Solid overall Action-RPG mechanics.
+ Loads of content.
+ Gorgeous Art/Sound direction.

- Introduction to the combat can be daunting.
- Features the occasional "fetch quest".

Verdict: For the Win – Essential Purchase

For gameplay footage of Super Daryl Deluxe, see our see our 10 minute Dive In: HERE
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