Anyone who has watched and loved Pixar’s Wall-E knows that robots can be lovable. Ubisoft’s B.U.D. is Grow Up’s Wall-E, albeit less informed and way more clumsy. B.U.D. is traveling the universe along with M.O.M., his maternal spaceship, when they crash on a new planet. It’s up to B.U.D. to collect up all the piece of the, um, mothership, exploring the planet along the way. It’s a sequel to Ubisoft’s indie-esque platformer Grow Home.
At the start, the Grow Up is fairly straight forward. Players can scan life forms, making it possible to plant the seed of any plant you scan. Early on in the game, this is pretty much your best bet for getting around; plant a bouncy mushroom thing, jump on it and latch on to whatever you need to climb to reach a new area. Climbing is achieved my alternating the different bumpers or triggers for each hand, although thanks to some wonky camera movement and weird controls, it isn’t always as simple as that; I often felt that B.U.D. was purposely making my climbing progress more difficult than it needed to be.
As you progress through the game, you can unlock new abilities, find new flora and progress ever upwards. After finding enough crystals to boost my jetpack sufficiently, getting around got a whole lot easier, especially when combined with air brakes or the glider. It became much more fun to explore the word, try out POD challenges and find even more crystals. The polygon-filled world is filled with fun things to discover, which is exactly what I did for the first hour or two.
Thereafter, I realized the wonky controls (B.U.D. isn’t great at exact or precise platforming) and camera angles made me not really enjoy the POD challenges. Instead, I decided to focus on finding the pieces of M.O.M., which meant moving up higher, way higher.
The best way to move substantially upward is by growing Starflowers. These bizarrely phallic looking plants feature a glowing bud on top, with smaller bulbous heads along the shaft. B.U.D. can cling to these buds and help them grow towards special floating islands or Energy Stones. If you manage to crash your growing shaft into island, it will pulse and make the main Starflower grow higher. While you can sort of steer the growth, it seems to fight the player as well, forcing you to use multiple vines to reach your target, although it does look rather cool when it’s all grown.
Once you reach new heights, you’ll be able to zoom out to that new altitude; I had quite a lot of fun in the middle to late part of the game reaching a new altitude, setting a marker for halfway around the world, and then gliding my way there. Exploration had become easy, but it was still enjoyable. That said, even as my jetpack improved and I gained new abilities, I was still frustrated with many of the POD challenges – I simply don’t enjoy those kinds of timed, jumping through hoops activities, especially when I couldn’t be sure that B.U.D. would stick the necessary landings.
Eventually, I found that my favorite part of the experience was growing those funny Freudian-field day Starflowers. That was the most compelling part of the game; getting higher and higher, finding new islands or areas. I enjoyed discovering new flora that allowed me to jump or fly higher, combining this with the jetpack and air brakes or glider to reach awesome new heights. It was exhilarating and free and with plenty of teleportation points scattered around the world, I never feared back tracking or getting stuck as I could simply respawn and teleport back to high ground.
Unfortunately, there were some niggling irritations. The framerate dropped way more often than I could defend considering the minimalist art style. It was particularly bad when a cut scene was being triggered or the auto-save – it’s hard enough to manage jumping with the imprecise B.U.D. only to have the game stutter in the middle. Also frustrating was the camera, which would often swing around at the most inopportune moments, or do some bizarre clipping into solid structures or environmental elements. Worst of all, it would often completely change angles or directions, making me so disoriented and even a little dizzy or nauseous at its worst.
It’s not a long game – you can probably save M.O.M in a few hours. However, upon completion the game points out just how little you explored the world below, prompting you to go back and discover all the crystals, complete all the POD challenges. It was at this point that I turned off the system – I had fun with the parts of the game that I enjoyed, but going back and being a completionist simply felt like more effort than it was worth.
Last Updated: August 16, 2016