With a The Truman Show-like narrative (only much more deadly) and Prince of Persia-ish 2D platforming and puzzle solving, Ministry of Broadcast offers a refreshing approach to side-scrollers. Every moment is interesting and the dark humor is easily one of the stand out features of this sleeper hit on the Switch eShop. Think Smash T.V.’s television set presentation but with way less action, more platforming, and even better pixel art.
The plot is a little disturbing as the main character is given a chance to see his family if he can overcome a gauntlet of tasks, puzzles, and platforming challenges. Every move, however, is televised in which the crowd and competitors want to see him fail, becoming lunch to a rabid dog, or succumb to a dangerous fall. Using the competition as bait only adds to the morbidness of the entire story and desperation. The only way to see victory is to climb over the dead, literally in some cases.
The moment-to-moment gameplay constantly introduces obstacles usually involving the environment in some way. Due to the trial and error design, players might have to replay segments several times before the solution is found. In truth, this is not the easiest game but the stage design always rides that thin border of being frustrating to provide a sense of accomplishment when a hurdle is overcome. Many puzzles require creative thinking which is why it will take a few attempts to make it through.
Visually, the 2D basic pixel art is loaded with personality and adorable charm. Thanks to thoughtful animations and attention to detail, there is a lot happening but with use of only a little. The camera also lends itself to the player, zooming accordingly when presenting a correlating puzzle. There is not much to the soundtrack, but like the visuals, plays to its strengths by making big use out of little.
Although the dark humor is pretty relentless, Ministry of Broadcast is an enjoyable passion project. After playing for only a few minutes, it is easy to see the love and care that went into this strangely endearing digital download. The weighty control of the playable character takes some adjusting but that retro design aesthetic is a welcomed throwback.
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