The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo is a hand-drawn 2D point-and click adventure from Spanish director and animator Nacho Rodriguez, which shines in its surrealist, cartoonish art style but is let down by imprecise controls. This might come as no surprise in light of what Mr. Rodriguez himself has alleged on social media, claiming that developer Gammera Nest released the game without his permission when he felt it still wasn’t ready to be played. The studio has since put out their own statement (in Spanish) refuting this version of events. Whoever you wish to believe, that outside tension between art and programming is reflected within the game itself for a fair part of its second half, marring what is otherwise a fun if short experience in a very wacky world.
There is a story in The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo, though it’s a brief and predictably odd one. Much like in Amanita’s similarly absurdist point-and-click slapstick Chuchel, the character Mr. Coo, who seems to be a small, yellow blob-like man, is obsessed with obtaining and devouring a single piece of continuously-out-of-his-grasp fruit, this time an apple rather than a cherry. But this dream gets crushed – or rather diced – when he’s cut into three pieces (head, torso and legs) by a horrifying sword-wielding crocodile beast. The majority of the game is spent trying to unite Mr. Coo’s parts back together by controlling the separated body elements through a variety of puzzles.
You control Mr. Coo (and later the many pieces of him) simply by clicking with the mouse button, with the ability to swap between body parts at the press of the space bar. Unfortunately, the cursor doesn’t distinguish between where the protagonist can move and the objects he can interact with. This creates a fair bit of ambiguity, especially with the later, more complicated puzzles. To make matters worse, there were times when clicking zones for an item felt very off-target, making me unsure whether I’d got the solution to the puzzle wrong or whether I was just supposed to click a different point of the object I needed to interact with. (It was always the latter.)
The world of Mr. Coo itself is like something out of a Lewis Carroll novel, or that scene in Dumbo where everyone is three sheets to the wind – full of blooming, rippling animations of bizarre cartoon creatures such as giant chickens and one-eyed women. The first half really outdoes itself in bringing this oddness to life, never settling too long on one scene, showcasing more a series of vignettes of peculiar situations that Mr. Coo often quite literally falls into, such as being trapped inside a giant chicken egg or being chased round a desert by that crazed crocodile. It’s a shame that for the second half the environment becomes a lot more static, with just a couple of main scenes in one location – a kind of children’s toybox – to move about in.
The game’s music fits in well with its surrealist themes, painting dreamlike piano chords and dissonant chimes over the strange locations. And Nacho Rodriguez’s art style is a joy to get lost in, even if any semblance as to who these characters are and what’s going on does get a little lost along the way. As you progress, the absurdity of the earlier scenes settles down, and with it goes some of the magic.
The puzzles are pretty standard adventure game fare of clicking on things to interact with and use them. For example, clicking on a bottle will knock it over so its cork falls out, which you can then use – not in a “keep in an inventory and save for later” sense, but “use immediately on whatever else you can interact with by clicking on it” sense. It can be a little unclear sometimes what to do next, even in the second half when there are only a few scenes to walk between, but there is a much appreciated hint book with illustrations to help you out. It would have been fun to have seen more body-part-specific puzzles when each Mr. Coo piece is separated from the others, as this felt like such an interesting concept for an adventure game. Instead the only real difference is that the legs can jump a little higher than the head; you never really get to play as the torso at all until the very last few minutes.
Near the end there’s also a strict timed puzzle section, during which if you fail you’ll need to sit through two unskippable cutscenes before you can give it another go. I got it on my third attempt, but the previously mentioned off-target clicking areas didn’t help, especially when time is so tight, again making something which should have been challenging but still fun just frustrating.
The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo is a short game – it took me just under two hours to complete with only a single peek at the hint book. The first half was quite enjoyable, but eventually it became clear why Mr. Rodriguez himself was dissatisfied with the final product, as the second half makes even this relative brevity drag, until I longed to be back playing the beginning with its bold animations and uniquely weird situations and characters. There are certainly things to appreciate here, but the best of them are always in how The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo looks rather than how it plays. The story ends on a cliffhanger, so let’s hope that any future endeavour will itself be able to pick up the pieces and create something in the spirit of the original, just with more refined mechanics as its creator always intended.
At first the unusual art style and uncanny hand-animated world of The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo feels uniquely captivating, but delve a little deeper and its raw mechanics and unclear puzzle design make for a gameplay experience as fragmented as its protagonist.
- Stylish hand-drawn art and animations
- A carefully crafted world of surreal characters and situations to explore
- Interactive clicking zones can be imprecise
- Central premise of swapping between body parts doesn’t really deliver
- A short experience that somehow still drags the longer it goes on
Laura played The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo on PC using a review code provided by the game’s publisher.