Hugo: The Evil Mirror Review

Hugo: The Evil Mirror is a platform-style puzzler that's clearly aimed toward a young audience.

Hugo: The Evil Mirror is a platform-style puzzler that's clearly aimed toward a young audience. Older players will laugh (at least, they ought to) at the game's simplistic controls, straightforward puzzles, and rudimentary graphics--but those same traits are exactly what make Hugo so appropriate for young players.

Massive monsters can be hatched out of large ice formations.
Massive monsters can be hatched out of large ice formations.

The story concerns the game's namesake, Hugo, who has been imprisoned inside a magical mirror by an evil witch named Scylla. She has broken the mirror into three individual pieces and has stocked away each piece in a different area of Tricky Troll Forest. Now it's up to Hugo's children, which are the real stars of the game, to locate and retrieve each piece.

Each individual piece of the mirror is guarded by a different boss creature, but before you can do battle with the baddie in question, you have to make it through the roughly 20 levels leading up to the boss' chamber. Those levels are set up as large "rooms" populated with platforms, monsters, and a number of monster generators. Little Hugo's main weapon is a freeze ray, which can shut down monster generators and transform monsters into ice cubes for brief periods of time. Once you've put the freeze on all of the generators and monsters within the level, you're whisked away to the next one to do it all over again.

Some monsters and generators can't be reached by jumping alone. That's where those monster cubes come in. Cubes can be picked up, pushed, and used as stepping-stones, allowing the player to climb up to areas that would otherwise be off-limits. Another neat twist here is that cubes can also be mixed together and shattered to reveal score crystals and power-up items, respectively. Many times, shattering a giant ice block will unleash a powerful megamonster, which you can then refreeze for an even better bonus.

Getting through the game won't be a problem for most people. Here and there, you'll run across a jump sequence that requires moving multiple cubes into position, or you'll encounter shielded enemies that are only vulnerable from behind. But these challenging spots are uncommon and won't eat up more than a single continue in the worst case. The different power-up items that the enemies drop also help out a great deal. Traits such as health, speed, armor, and freeze strength can all be upgraded four times each, and the effects last throughout the rest of the game. Depending on the difficulty setting that's chosen, a teenager or adult should be able to cruise through all 60 levels in the story mode within one to two hours. Younger players may not be able to figure out some of the puzzles or enemies so quickly, however, which means they'll be less likely to gripe about how brief the game is.

Cubes can be combined to make large ice formations.
Cubes can be combined to make large ice formations.

The graphics and audio are fairly rudimentary, but they get the job done and do so in a charming way. Before the game starts, a lengthy video clip introduces the characters and shows Scylla in the act of imprisoning Hugo inside the mirror. The clarity and the quality of the video is good--not nearly VHS quality, but on par with the many GBA Video cartridges that are currently on the market. Within the game itself, the 2D character sprites have a distinctive European style that's apt to draw smiles from younger players, even if the animation isn't all that intricate or plentiful. The backgrounds are quite plain, but the various graphical effects for falling leaves and snowflakes do provide enough detail to convey the idea that you're trekking through three unique environments. There's really nothing that can be said about the audio, except that you'll hear the same clanky sound effects and the one tune throughout the entire game.

In all likelihood, no one over the age of 12 is liable to be challenged or impressed by Hugo: The Evil Mirror. It has all the necessary underpinnings of a good platform-style puzzle game, but everything has been simplified in order to appeal to the needs of the intended younger audience.

The Good

  • Combine cubes to make large monsters
  • Perfect for kids
  • Cute artistic style

The Bad

  • Too easy for most players
  • Graphics as old as Methuselah
  • Done in an hour or two

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