Originally released on mobile devices and PC a couple years ago, Summer Catchers by Noodlecake has been ported to Switch. Best described as an adventure endless runner, there are some interesting gameplay concepts here but winds up being a lesson in frustration.
You play as a little girl on a quest to see a warm summer environment as she has only known the frozen north. She enlists the help of a forest animal because what are bears and wolves known for? That’s right, making ridable buggies! Like any endless runner, the goal is to make it as far as possible, avoiding hazards along the way. What makes Summer Catchers unique is the item system. In order to jump over that pit of spikes, you need to activate your jump item. See that incoming barrier? Better use the smash item to bust through it. What about that large tree in the way? Use the ax to chop it down as you pass. If you don’t use the right item at the right time, you will take damage. Take a few hits and it is back to the hub screen to repair the buggy and try all over again.
The problem is the player has no clue which hazard is coming next and the layout changes every time. The jump item, for example, needs to be purchased at the shop before you try again. Since funds are always limited, you will never have the right item you need when you need it, let alone the proper quantity. Making matters worse, the player has almost zero reaction time to select from three different icons on screen. The player literally has about one second to identify a hazard, determine if the proper item is available in inventory, determine where that item is in the inventory, and then select it before the hazard kills you. Normal humans simply cannot react this fast, resulting in constant game overs. Restarting also takes way too long to reload.
It is such a shame that the gameplay is completely broken, as if no testing and gameplay balancing took place, because the pixel art is super charming. The way the little girl walks and her accompanying snow crunching sound effects is very well done, as if all the attention was put into this feature alone. The characters, story, and overall premise is great, fantastic even, but the gameplay is frustratingly unplayable which is very unlike Noodlecake.
Also available on PC and mobile.
Not As Good As: that other endless runner you have been playing on your phone
Has Better Pixel Art Than: so many other games
Wait For It: a sequel that removes the annoyances