Ayo The Clown is a family friendly 2.5D platformer designed for young or inexperienced players. While not has complicated, difficult, or action packed as a Mario, Kirby, or even a Yoshi platformer, Ayo is purposely slower paced and more methodical, making it a perfect entry point for beginning gamers. Long time platforming fans, however, will probably crave something a little more.
On a quest to find his dog, Ayo must overcome obstacles, enemies, and even bosses along the way. Uniquely, the player unlocks a new skill every few stages, even the most basic of abilities that are taken for granted. For example, the player doesn’t have the ability to jump during the first stage. That gets unlocked later. The same goes for a ground pound, or in Ayo’s case, a headbutt pound where he slams his head against switches to activate parts of the environment. Instead of a Yoshi-style flutter jump, this friendly clown can use a balloon to gain new heights, which is also unlocked in time. At first it seems weird to not have access to a detailed skillset but the pacing is designed in a way to ease players into stages with a bit more difficulty.
There are optional collectables to be found in each stage – teddy bears and lollipops. Oh yes, the child-friendly nature of the presentation never skips a beat. In fact, the lenient checkpoint system is signaled with a pie in the face. The environment itself is composed of colorful blocks. Enemies are simple, non-threatening animals that pace back and forth. Even the weapons, like the balloon sword, mallet, and water balloons, further emphasize the clown theme. There is one caveat at the weapons though – if you take a hit, you lose your item and have to resort to stomping on heads Mario-style. The game is never overly difficult or riddled with cheap enemy placement so even the most casual players shouldn’t encounter too much frustration with the considerate pacing.
Instead of collecting coins like Mario, this friendly clown collects gems. Instead of boosting a score, these gems serve a purpose – they are used to upgrade Ayo’s abilities. Although it takes a while to unlock most things, incorporating this RPG feature is a welcomed edition that helps separate itself from the wealth of games in the same genre. Each stage is rather lengthy too so a single play through will definitely take some time to complete, especially if you like to explore to find those optional collectables. There are also times the playable clown will hop into a tank Metal Slug-style and blast the crap out of baddies. It seems like a silly extreme, as a clown murders the faces off nearly defenseless enemies with a friggin’ tank, but the short-lived vehicle segments offer variety and stupid fun.
The platforming gameplay leans heavily into the clown theme and the same extends into the audio department. Ayo’s cute squeaky jump sound effect surprisingly doesn’t get old and the carnival soundtrack is well done for a kid’s game although some tracks repeat often. The piano heavy soundtrack has been crafted with care and further amplifies the clown theme and child nature of the presentation.
Ayo The Clown will probably bore players who have been playing games their whole life thanks to the simple presentation, control, and non-challenging gameplay. Alternatively, it is for these exact same reasons that inexperience players or youngsters will probably highly enjoy this easier going experience. Are there better platformers out there? Absolutely. Just reference almost any first party Nintendo game. But if you are looking for a sleeper hit platformer that carries a lower cost but offers quality gameplay designed for a younger audience, Ayo The Clown is one ticket to the circus you should consider.
Also available on PC (Steam).