The Legend of Zelda with an energy system
Some people will tell you that Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series is all about exploring faraway lands, collecting treasure, and aiding a kingdom in peril. These people are wrong. The Legend of Zelda is about cutting down bushes and finding cool stuff under the foliage. Bush Whacker 2 obviously takes its inspiration from Zelda‘s weed-whacking, and the game is charming, if mindless, as a result. Unfortunately, a draconic energy system limits play to a stifling degree.
Bush Whacker 2 casts you as a sea-faring hero who’s in pursuit of princess-nabbing pirates. A storm whips up and blows you off-course. After some rocking and drifting, you eventually run ashore on a strange island with a weed problem. The key to moving ahead is to cut down as much of the fast-growing vegetation as possible.
Bush Whacker 2 arms you with a sword, but the weapon isn’t exclusively for giving enemies the business. As you progress from screen to screen, you come across dozens of bushes harboring items, prizes, and other secrets. Puzzle pieces are the most important thing you gain from cutting bushes, however. When you collect the allotted amount, you solve a jigsaw puzzle to open up a new path.
Cutting down bushes and collecting these pieces can be a bit tedious, but Bush Whacker 2 offers ways in which you can expedite the process. There’s a button that lets you zip across the screen and cut down everything in your path. You can also spend mana to unleash a lightning attack that takes out everything on-screen.
Bush Whacker 2‘s bush-cutting and puzzle-solving is admittedly repetitive, but it’s also habit-forming and kind of relaxing thanks to the game’s gentle background music. The script is also laced with humor and a few groan-worthy references (see if you can find “Jason Beaver”).
Despite its fun premise, Bush Whacker 2 has a rainforest-sized problem: an unbalanced energy system. Bush Whacker 2 is free-to-play, so you’re only allowed to experience the game in bite-sized chunks before you’re forced to wait (or pay) for your energy to refill. Every bush or enemy you hit with your sword takes up one unit of energy—sometimes more. Your supply of energy grows as you level up, but it’s not enough to keep you playing at a decent pace. You can easily burn through a store of 100 energy units in three minutes.
A restrictive energy system is sort of understandable with puzzle games, since they’re meant to be played for a couple of minutes at a time. But an energy system in an adventure game is a terrible idea. What’s the point of arming yourself with a sword if you don’t intend to get lost in a strange new world for hours at a time?
By itself, Bush Whacker 2 is gentle, slow fun. When paired with its energy system, it’s frustrating. You may as well give it a try – heck, it’s free – but seeing how the game yanks you out of the action as soon as you’ve found your groove, it might be best to get lost in some real yard work instead.