REVIEW – iHUGU (Switch)

Love Thy Neighbor

iHUGU, pronounced as I-Hug-You, is a game about, you guessed it, hugging. Even though it only costs a few bucks and attempts to spread a positive message, this Switch eShop title is essentially a cheap iPhone game that is cute for about forty-five seconds before growing stale and annoying difficult.
Gameplay is very simple and really only requires use of the left and right directions on the analog stick. Playing as a customized or randomize character, it is your job to hug NPCs.  The gimmick, however, is that you are only allowed to hug someone once per day (essentially once per level). Pushing right will hug, pressing left will pass and move on to the next NPC.  This means iHUGU is a memory game as you need to remember who you hugged and who you didn’t hug.  There is a meter at the top of the screen that constantly drains forcing players to make quick decisions; second-guessing yourself will happen at every approach. Each character is composed of body swapped 8-bit character sprites, some being rather ridiculous but that makes them stand out and easier to identify. Unfortunately, iHUGU actually gets more difficult the more you play for two reasons. First, the game is designed to get harder with each passing stage. And second, it naturally becomes confusing as it is hard to remember if you just hugged a character that just passed, from the previous round, or even from a previous game entirely. It only takes maybe thirty seconds to reach the end of a stage and the player will most likely see game over by round three. The problem is, the game starts to mess with you by keeping the same NPC player faces but just swap the bodies, or vice versa. This makes is difficult to distinguish one from the other since they look almost identical. Either way, gameplay is tedious, annoying, and just isn’t fun. Also, there is more graphic fidelity in the opening logo display animation than there is in the entire game. In-between rounds, the player will occasionally play a short mini game to collect shamrocks. Once enough Shamrocks have been collected, the player can spin a slot machine to unlock more worthless visual customization flare for the playable character. Also, even though it only lasts a moment, the player still has to sit through the how-to-play tutorial every time the game starts. There is a competitive two-player mode, to see who can make it the furthest, but it really isn’t any different than the single player mode. The game’s one audio track is rather upbeat and fits the friendliness of the hugging gameplay but will make you psychotic if you listen to it for more than five minutes at a time. iHUGU is a reflex based memory game with limited appeal and replay value even through it is trying to spread a positive message. Due to the nature of the memorization of gameplay, this title actually gets worse the more you play it. Instead of paying a few bucks to download this game, you are better offer using that money to buy a Starbucks to the person standing behind you to make someone’s day.  Besides, randomly hugging people will probably get you sued in today’s society. SCORE: 4/10 Not As Good As: pretty much any Mario Party mini game Try It Instead: that awkward hug that one uncle gives you   I’d Rather Play: the memory card matching game in Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief Twitter: @ZackGaz

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