Juju is a throwback to the days when anyone could pick up and play Donkey Kong Country or Sonic the Hedgehog. But just because the game stars a pink panda bear that looks as threatening as cotton candy, don’t underestimate how hard the game can get if you crank up the difficulty as high as the game’s Nightmare mode.
Juju is friendly as can be at the start, which is great for new players, but if you’re rolling your eyes at the lush world and enemy crabs, just crank up the difficulty to the Nightmare mode to find the challenge you’re likely looking for. Nightmare chips away at the standard four hit points Juju carries to make the entire game an instant death affair. Even in the early, exploratory stages there’s no room for mistake as the once silly-looking porcupines become as scary as a rocket launcher.
As the stages go on, you’ll see that tricky jumps are far trickier with no room for error, and the same goes for the more difficult enemy placement. Take the later lava stages, for instance. Falling into magma is already a killer, but when a “safe” zone is occupied by spikes or even one enemy crab, you’re a bundle of nerves when you know you have zero room for error. Though that also makes the speed runs even more satisfying. At that difficulty it reminds an aging gamer of the risk/reward antics of Ghouls ‘n’ Goblins.
Nightmare also makes the creative boss fights a whole new ball game. If you’re facing them for the first time on that difficulty, learning their patterns isn’t so easy when their first unpredictable attack results in a game over. On a second playthrough, taking on folks like a giant squid or a lizard’s lengthy tongue via Nightmare mode adds some extra spice to battles you may have already conquered.
If standard stages in Nightmare are too simple, head to the bonus stages with the difficulty cranked all the way up. The autoscrolling, enemy-filled stages with split second turns and hard to find collectibles are enough to make just about anyone scream uncle.
So, once you’ve had your fun with your younger pals, there’s still hours of enjoyment to be had once you put the kids to bed. Just be warned: if you aren’t up to the challenge, Nightmare mode’s most brutal levels might just haunt your dreams.