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Raccoo Venture Review


Raccoo Venture makes a big thing about the balance between good and evil. The dark and light elements of the world of Verta are in perfect harmony until some tattooed hooligans turn up and introduce chaos into the mix. Racoon, being the physical embodiment of dark and light, is the one who ends up with the burden of solving it. 

We mention the dark-light thing, because it’s a strong analogy for the entire game. Raccoo Venture doesn’t dabble in ‘meh’ or ‘just okay’. Everything in the game is black or white. It’s either so well done that you want to applaud it, or so infuriating that you feel like you’ve spent a day stuck in a room with a feral raccoon. There’s no midway. 

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A new adventure with a little raccoon

Take the presentation. There is no way on Earth that Raccoo Venture was possibly made by one person, but we’re reliably told that this was the case. This is such a gorgeous little platformer. It’s better-looking than the majority of licensed kids games we have played this year. The fact its levels invokes comparisons with the New Super Mario Bros series is a huge compliment to Diego Ras, the lone developer. 

There’s no compromising on the game structure, either. If you have fond memories of the golden era of 3D platforming, when Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie were colossi, then Raccoo Venture will feel like a true throwback. It’s every bit the platforming collectathon, as each level is dense with collectibles, and there’s very little handholding on which way to go. Just explore and collect the chess pieces, chess boards, costume pieces, statuettes and journals that are the equivalent of Mario’s stars or Banjo’s jiggies. As someone who loves these games and wishes that we got more of them on the Xbox, I was in my element.

But this light side is concealing a dark side. We’re not sure whether the darkness bubbles up because developer Diego Ras was over-ambitious, or because he has certain design principles that we disagree with, but they’re evident almost as soon as you pick up the pad. 

Raccoo is nowhere near as agile or versatile as his platforming forebears. He’s lacking the Mario momentum when he gets up to speed, so is slightly too plodding, slightly too slow to get off the floor. When there are so many timed platforms in the game, the inertia becomes more limiting than it needs to be. And he’s lacking in any moves. He’s got a ground-pound and that’s about it, with very few moves being added to the roster over the course of the game. When the levels are presented as jungle gyms that an acrobat would struggle to maneuver through, the limitation on the moves becomes a pain. 

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Old-school adventuring

Raccoo Venture loves a spot of combat, but I groaned whenever an enemy appeared on the screen. You can’t whack them with a weapon, and a bottom-bounce will only stun them. To attack them, your only weapon is that ground-pound. But you have to be ridiculously precise to hit them, jumping so that your shadow is over them, as you hope that they’re still there by the time the animation ends. If you miss by even a millimetre, they’re whacking you on the head with a stick. It means that every encounter, even with the most weedy of enemies, can leave you with a lost heart. Since there’s not many health replenishers or checkpoints, it’s likely that you’ll end up like us: ignoring combat entirely, if you can get away with it (oh, and a ‘throw’ attack uses the same button for both throw and drop, making that entirely unreliable too). 

Death in Raccoo Venture is so unforgiving that we rage-quit more times than we have fingers. This is none more true than when you fall off a platform. Tumble to your doom and you’re returned to a checkpoint or, if you haven’t reached one of them yet, the start of the level. There are only two or three checkpoints per level, and the levels aren’t small, so it’s entirely possible to lose all progress entirely. 

The thing is, it’s so ridiculously easy to fall off a platform. Platforms tumble, fold up, move, literally disappear and – often – have rounded sides that you slip off without realising it. With one easy-to-make mistake, you’ve lost five minutes of progress and need to start again. Raccoo Venture is entirely inconsistent about what you get to keep, too. Collectibles that took feats of agility to gain will sometimes be retained on death, other times not. 

Death by combat isn’t much better. You don’t return to checkpoints with full health: in fact, we don’t understand the rules of health and checkpoints at all. Sometimes we’d arrive with one health, sometimes two. Whatever happens, it is a huge handicap. If you’re stuck in the middle of a gangway where death is both in front of you and behind you, then the sudden reduction to minimal health means multiple deaths. We often had to put down the pad, take a few breaths and agree to play Raccoo Venture again tomorrow. 

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Raccoo Venture certainly looks good

It doesn’t stop there. There’s a level design philosophy behind Raccoo Venture. Take level 2-2, as an example. It all starts with a single, circular level. We spent half an hour exploring it, finding a few secrets along the way, but not finding the exit for the level anywhere. What we needed to do was find a hidden switch, gather a timed crystal in the level, and travel to the one concealed path in the level that the crystal would reveal. Only then would the second island appear.

The critical path, the path you need to take to complete a level, is often as obscured as a secret treasure would be in any other game. There are precious few signs or hints to where they are. That might be ambrosia to platforming fans who hate handholding and want some challenge from their cutesy platformers. We get that. But then Raccoo Venture goes one step further. To progress from each world on the game map, you need a mandatory number of hidden treasures. 

Now, the hidden treasures are ludicrously opaque, often hidden in places that require you to bump and grind against walls, jump into unseen chasms, or lay seeds or bombs in places that no one would ever think to lay seeds or bombs. In a Mario or Banjo, these treasures would be little doffs of the cap, little ‘well dones’ that would have no impact on the main game. But Raccoo Venture makes them critical to progress. It’s a degree of treasure-hunting that we just don’t get behind. 

Now combine all of these dark elements together. You’re exploring every last nook and cranny for important treasures, while enemies nibble at your heels (enemies that are disproportionally hard to kill thanks to dodgy collision detection and annoying AI). These treasures are often hidden after sequences of platforms, where one mistake sends you back to the start of the level. Die, and the collectibles that you did earn will be ripped from your racoony mitts. 

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You may just love Raccoo Venture

I get why Raccoo Venture is like this. Kao the Kangaroo has a similar philosophy. It acknowledges that Mario 64 and Banjo fans have grown up. These players are better at games now, and want more obstacles to overcome, and more rewards for nailing them. So, we get 3D platformers that are as rock hard and unforgiving as the Meat Boys of this world. I get that. 

But a platformer needs certain things to pull that off. They need well-designed worlds that are gorgeous to look at, and Raccoo Venture has them in spades. But they also need to put the control fully in the players’ hands, with a strong moveset and a responsiveness to the controller inputs. They need enemies that behave predictably. They need platforms that don’t slide a player off as soon as they land on them. And Raccoo Venture isn’t quite good enough or comprehensive enough to get those things right. It gets close, but there’s no sign of a cigar. Perhaps it’s in a hidden room.

If you have the patience of a saint and some mean platforming skills, then Raccoo Venture may be for you. But if you question your ability in either of those areas, then we warn you: Raccoo Venture can feel like rooting around in the trash, and there’s an awful lot of sharp glass in there.


  • Doesn’t it look great?
  • It sounds great too
  • Densely packed with stuff
  • Failure is disproportionally unfair
  • Too many mandatory secrets to find
  • Controls and enemy AI aren’t quite right
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, QUByte Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 14 December 2023 | £12.49
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Doesn’t it look great?</li> <li>It sounds great too</li> <li>Densely packed with stuff</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Failure is disproportionally unfair</li> <li>Too many mandatory secrets to find</li> <li>Controls and enemy AI aren’t quite right</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, QUByte Interactive</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 14 December 2023 | £12.49</li> </ul>Raccoo Venture Review
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