Wii U Underground review: mixing surgical training and Lemmings

£15.99; Wii U; Nintendo eShop

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The Independent Tech

Do you want to hone your surgical skills? Or are you Lemmings fan? If the answer is yes to either of these questions (or both) then you should give Underground a go.

The puzzle-based game was originally conceived as an imaginative way for medical students to train for keyhole surgery, and it certainly beats poking at a cadaver. Each level consists of a string of self-contained puzzles to navigate, which are all set in a fantastical, subterranean world. With two mechanical arms under your control, your goal is to guide as many cute, waddling robots as you can to safety. This involves drilling, melting and clawing around at the terrain to create new paths. To make things tricky, troublesome adversaries pop up every now and again, hell-bent on destroying your robotic friends.

 

If you’re so inclined, you can play Underground with a custom controller that mirrors a double-handed surgical device. Although as the developers have been keen to point out, it’s just for medical purposes. For those who aren’t training to be surgeons, the analogue sticks of  the Wii U gamepad can be used as a slightly easier (and cost-free) alternative.

Like most independent titles available on the Nintendo eShop, what Underground lacks in looks, it makes up for in innovative gameplay. Once you get used to the controls, which seem counter-intuitive at first, you’re soon able to start swishing your metal arms all over each level, and protect your robots with a God-like control.

However, the main problem with the game goes back to the initial questions you have to ask yourself before playing. Because if you’re not a surgeon-in-waiting, or aren’t particularly keen on playing a less charming 3D version of Lemmings, then you'll probably want to give it a miss. And that said, I’m not even sure whether the most Lemmings-obsessed surgery student would enjoy it that much.

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