A wholesome story full of laughter and love, fanatics lore, enamoring environments, and likeable characters all come together to make Song of Nunu one of the best LoL games to date. Unfortunately, performance issues on Nintendo Switch mean it’s not the optimal platform for the game.
In February 2009 a new champion arrived in League of Legends, Nunu, a ten-year-old boy accompanied by his best friend Willump, the last of the Yeti. Together, they fulfill the tank role, making them a solid choice for those who enjoy occupying the jungle lane in Riot’s popular MOBA. However, those players are few and far between, meaning too many players miss out on getting to know Nunu and Willump.
I fall into that category, for while I have nothing but love for the story surrounding them, I never was one for the jungle lane back when I played LoL, meaning I don’t share much of a connection with Nunu and Willump. Actually, that should be ‘didn’t’ as I’ve spent the past two weeks playing Song of Nunu, and it appears Tequila Works knows these two characters well.
Back at Gamescom, I got a glimpse at Song of Nunu and spoke with the good people at Tequila Works and Riot Forge. Even after only 20 minutes with the game, I knew the team was making something special. However, it’s the reason for choosing Nunu and Willump that truly sold me on how incredible this game looked to be. They told me that they picked Nunu and Willump for their story, believing it deserves to be told as it’s human and often overlooked due to not many LoL players opting to use them in battle.
Though I don’t play as Nunu and Willump, I do have some knowledge about their backstory, namely how a young boy was determined to prove himself a hero, and what better way to do that than by slaying a powerful monster. Well, when Nunu attempted to do this, the young boy found Willump, discovering the last of the Yeti and meeting his best friend. Though Nunu doesn’t become a stereotypical hero, he gains something much more special through his bond with Willump.
The pair are now on a quest. Besides hurling snowballs at each other and making jovial memories, they long to find Nunu’s mother. This is what you get to explore in Song of Nunu, and from the get-go, it’s obvious that this is a lovingly crafted narrative-driven experience in which two best friends face the world and all the perils that come with it as they try to reunite with Nunu’s mum.
Many of you may be able to relate to this story in some regard; I certainly can. After a brief scene in which we walk through a blizzard to find Willump, the game throws us back to three days prior, where you wake up as Nunu in a cave before stepping out into the Freljord in search of the Yeti who has a little surprise for his buddy. The second that snowball hit me as I left the cave, turning to see Willump clutching his belly with laughter gave me such a fuzzy feeling – so much so I consider this my Grinch moment. I’m not the PT crew member who falls in love with cute games, but right now I need someone to help me because I. Am. FEELING!
Once Willump is over his laughing fit, your adventure begins as you head towards the Winged Mountain in search of the Heart of the Blue. Take it all in, as once you get moving, you see how stunning this snowy tundra is. The game does a great job of teaching you the mechanics in the opening 20 minutes, as you get to climb walls as both characters, complete puzzles, and use Nunu’s flute; all of these come together throughout the game, so it’s important you understand how everything plays a part in the early going.
Going through the caves and stumbling across old pirate ships is a joy. It’s here that you get to grips with the traversal and get your first taste of the puzzles ahead of you. Throughout Song of Nunu, you come across red and green plants with vines attached that you must use to progress. The red ones explode and don’t return, while the green ones disappear temporarily, so you need to move fast if a green plant is in your way.
While at a certain pirate ship, a red bolus blocks the way forward, but there’s a green one on the ship’s mast; you can throw snowballs at it to make it explode and change the direction of the mast. Doing this allows you to climb across the mast and make it safely to the other side, where you can clear the red bolus. This is just one example of the puzzles you come across, but it gives you a good idea of what to expect in Song of Nunu.
After going a bit further, it’s time to use Nunu’s flute. The triggers on your controller serve as different notes; you need to play these in the order you see them on the screen. Sometimes, you just need to play and hold a single note to open the door that blocks the path. The flute is one of the most important aspects of the game, and it’s a joy to use. Seeing Nunu use the flute his mother gifted him it’s no surprise that he’s talented with the instrument, as his mum is a bard.
One of my favorite things about the flute is that you can play it around the campfire. After a day of traveling, Willump and Nunu take a well-deserved rest, and this is when Nunu practices the song he’s making for the pair. If you play well, Willump dances, but if you play it badly, the Yeti gives a comical look. The judgment is real, so don’t get this wrong, Nunu. Beyond that, you can find and learn new songs throughout the game. After each of them, Nunu gives a brief backstory on what the song means.
Following your introduction to the flute, it’s time to get your first taste of combat against a pack of wolves. Yes, there’s combat. Sure, this is a whole narrative-driven experience, but you didn’t expect a League of Legends game to be absent of conflict, did you? You can perform light and strong attacks with a dodge button, too; a basic but effective system. As for your health, you can perform finishers on your enemies to regain some HP. Again, it’s simple, but it works well.
Once you defeat the wolves and progress, it’s time for some lore as you learn about true ice and dark ice. The lore in this game is fantastic. Besides discovering more through songs, the glossary is on hand to give you information on everything you come across. For seasoned LoL fans, you may well already know everything and everyone (I certainly freaked out at seeing some familiar faces), but for people that are new to this world, Tequila Works has done an excellent job in bringing it to life with enough backstory on offer that you’ll be a Nunu and Willump pro by the end of the game.
I mentioned seeing familiar faces. As you can tell from the trailer, Braum is present in the game, and it’s safe to say that he has a fan in Nunu. The hero of the Frejlord is ready to help Nunu and Willump on their quest to reach the Winged Mountain, though while on a mission for him, they end up going beneath the ice to an entirely different place. I couldn’t help but let out a little squeal of delight when I realized I was in The Forge. Yes, Ornn is in this game, too, and he has some tasks for you.
Though I won’t give away what the quests are, getting a fruit only for Ornn to eat it when you return confusing Nunu and shocking Willump, is a funny scene that again emphasizes how human this story is. I don’t want to divulge anything else about the story, for it’s one you should experience for yourself. The jovial friendship, wholesome story and snowball fights will make you feel snuggly and warm this Winter.
While there are other champions in Song of Nunu, the main one you need to take notice of is Lissandra, The Ice Witch. LoL fans can likely guess her role, but I’ll let you all unravel her plans for yourselves. For those new to this universe, be wary; Lissandra is a mean and powerful mage.
Despite my strong love for this game and its story, Song of Nunu’s performance lets it down on Nintendo Switch. Throughout the game, I experienced a somewhat frequent drop in frame rates, though this doesn’t last more than a couple of seconds when it does occur, I can’t deny the frequency in which it happens. However, a drop in frame rates is hardly the end of the world to me, especially when a game enamors me like this, but a game-breaking bug that forces me to start from the very beginning all over again does.
Fortunately, I was only about 45 minutes into the game, but the fact that I still had to restart my progress put a real damper on things. You see, while I applaud the game’s checkpoint system and how you start immediately where you were if you perish, it does mean that if a bug occurs, you’re stuck. I tried resetting the checkpoint numerous times and resetting the game, but nothing. I had to go back to the beginning, and given are were no save slots or manual saves, I was more than a bit anxious as I drew towards the area again.
Not only did I get past the dubious area, I went on to see everything else the game offers with no further game-breaking bugs. It appears to be a one-off incident as, after conversing with Riot, I’m the only one to encounter this issue so far. However, the developers are keeping an eye out in case players stumble across this bug when Song of Nunu releases.
It’s unfortunate that I encountered a bug like that, but the game does everything else so well, so much so that I can’t rule out Song of Nunu being a worthy purchase on Nintendo Switch. I advise waiting a couple of weeks if you’re set on having it on Switch; this gives you time to see if other players encounter similar issues. If this is a turn-off for you, I implore you to try Song of Nunu on PC, Xbox, or PlayStation. It has a wholesome story that touches your heart – it deserves to be heard.
If this has you in the mood to check in with other League of Legends champions, you can check out our Ruined King review, Convergence review, and pay a visit to our list of the best League of Legends games on Switch and mobile.