Review – Super Putty Squad (2017 – Switch)

Putty

Oh how I loved Silly Putty. In the early 90s (when the toy Silly Putty was a thing) I had this game on my Amiga and played it to death. I was so into the whole thing I even made my first ever comic based on the characters and loose plot of the game.

The humour was very much of the time, and very British too. Simply put the game tasked you, as the titular blob, to save some robots by absorbing them one at a time and delivering them to their space pod. In the way are various crazy enemies that can be dispatched by jumping on their heads, punching them, or absorbing them if they’re small enough.

A later sequel was produced but never released for Amiga, instead finding its way to Super Nintendo as Putty Squad. Today’s game is a remake of this sequel for modern consoles – first appearing on PS3 and Vita a few years ago.

Let’s get this out of the way from the start – this game is a turd. A steaming, awful pile of diarrhoea dripping down your face after your baby gets mad and throws its nappy at you. Ahem. Let’s investigate the reasons for this assessment.

First the graphics. If this was released on PlayStation they’d be impressive. They have that shimmery, plasticky kind of look that was popular in early games – particularly in CGI cutscenes. For some reason Putty’s eyes dance about while you move, making him look a little soft in the head. I don’t understand the decision to utilise this style when the original game had quite beautiful sprite-based graphics.

Graphics don’t make the game though, do that? Super Mario Bros looks like cack, yet is one of the most enjoyable, visceral experiences in video games. That’s ok, because the controls are shit too.

Someone should be harmed for their decision to use as many of the Switch’s buttons as possible, over-complicating the control scheme with it. Certain aspects of the controls make sense, such as using L and R to punch left and right, whilst others are appalling. Jump is mapped to A, while my thumb defaults to B, which in turn uses items in your inventory such as bombs and other projectiles. Stretch (which helps you get around the environment) is mapped to Y. Advancing an information box is done with X, eschewing the standard of A. ZR is used to absorb items, dropping Putty into a puddle and would make much more sense mapped to down.

Talking of down (and up)… you naturally can use these directionals with Y to stretch up and down between platforms, which is nice. However, up and down also move through your inventory even as you stretch in those directions so you’re forever having to reselect the inventory item you need.

Basically everything about the controls helps to remove you from the game.

A few other odd, archaic, design choices mar the experience. When you first load the game, you might be inclined to select “PLAY”, which is the default option at the top of the menu. This will start a new game in the tutorial area. Instead you have to move down the menu and select load game to continue where you left off. Not that you’ll ever want to.

There are not many options in the options menu, but one is “absorb: auto or manual”. I changed it to manual, as this was the default in the classic game I loved, and I generally don’t care for anything automatic in games I play. Even so, on many occasions I found that I was automatically absorbing things anyway. What’s the point.

Adding insult to injury, I recently read a review with a guy from System 3 excitedly spouting some shit about how Switch was the natural home for the game, and making promises about the high quality of the game. Bastard.

I’m tempted to say I’m glad I paid €14,99 for the game from the Nintendo eShop, instead of €34,99 that the cartridge costs. However, I could have returned the cartridge for a full refund but Nintendo just laugh and tell me it’s my fault for being stupid enough to have bought the game.

So don’t make the same mistake I made. This is a contender for worst game I ever played. And I lived through the early days of 3D gaming.

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