February 24, 2023
When I was just a young pup, I played every colourful 3D platformer I could get my tiny hands on. From well known classics like Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie to more obscure titles like Rocket: Robot on Wheels and Tonic Trouble, collecting shiny stuff wasn’t just a mechanic for me – it was a way of life. I’m talking about these classic 3D platformers today because Clive ‘N’ Wrench (for better and for worse) feels just like these good old fashioned games.
Your reason for collecting all manner of colourful doodads in Clive ‘N’ Wrench is to stop the tyrannical Dr Daucus, who is an evil scientist who has mastered time travel and allied himself with animal bosses across different historical eras. With the help of protagonist Clive’s cousin Nancy (who admittedly is partially responsible for this) it’s up to this hare and monkey duo to beat all the bad guys and fix the timeline by traveling through time in a fridge.
You most likely aren’t playing a 3D platformer for the story though, you’re playing it to (in the words of House of Pain) jump around. As soon as the narrative is out the way, you’re thrown into a portal to a tutorial world and shown the ropes. Controlling the furry duo is much more complex than I thought it would be, and you’re immediately expected to master every combination of running, double jumping, high jumping and gliding. I’m not sure if it’s because of the controller layout or how moving Clive feels, but it took me much longer than normal to get to grips with the basic movement.
Clive ‘N’ Wrench is split into 11 different worlds all based on a different place in space and time, packed full of stopwatches and big coins to collect. Stopwatches are the more plentiful of the two collectables, whereas the coins generally require more skill to obtain. They both essentially serve the same purpose though, unlocking future levels and bosses until you’ve eventually beaten all the bad guys.
Although each world is so visually and thematically different, your goal and how you achieve it is generally the same. Whether it’s an Egyptian city in the desert or Victorian factory town, you’ll still jump on every roof looking for collectibles while avoiding enemies and hazards. There aren’t new mechanics or moves as you progress, and even the bad guys all require the same single spin to send them flopping to the ground. It’s entertaining enough to scour the environments for all the collectables hiding in the nooks and crannies, but that’s pretty much all there is to it.
There are a few exceptions to this throughout the game though. Each world has a little sprinting dude you need to spin at to stop him in his tracks for a cheeky coin. There are also some coins that require you to do other different activities, like race a character or find a way to cause a traffic accident. It’s nothing revolutionary, but is a welcome break from roof hopping.
The bosses are probably the most varied aspect of the game, although admittedly maybe not the most fun. They generally feature the one big enemy doing a variety of attacks you need to dodge, with a small window of opportunity to retaliate. If you’re familiar with 3D platformers this setup won’t shock you in the slightest, and to be honest battling these animal baddies is really only inoffensive at best.
It might feel like I haven’t had much nice to say about Clive ‘N’ Wrench, but it isn’t without its charm. Even though exploring the environments is fairly repetitive, it’s still rather enjoyable. There’s a reason that this genre has plenty of fans, and even one with a few issues scratches that collecting itch. It’s also packed full of ridiculous puns, which I found fairly charming. The first time I found a hidden Easter egg that was just a literal chocolate egg hidden in a crevice, I couldn’t help but chuckle.
The controls are really what let the game down though. There were multiple times where my first jump for some reason counted as my second jump, and when you climb up a particularly long and treacherous tunnel only to fall down through no fault of your own you’ll really feel the rage.
Clive ‘N’ Wrench is an enjoyable enough 3d platformer, but control issues and a lack of anything truly exciting make it a little tough to recommend. The different time spanning environments are fun to explore, but ultimately every stage just ends up feeling the same. If you’re starving for jumping then there are worse options out there, but I still couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed by this duo.
A fun collectathon
Packed full of puns
The controls take some getting used to and have some issues
Not a lot of variety
Bosses aren't great
Clive 'N' Wrench probably won't set your world on fire, but it's an enjoyable enough 3D platformer with plenty of colourful doodads to collect.