To be honest, I was not thinking “Bingo!” at all as the offer of this title was on the table for SwitchWatch. But I took it anyway. It would be a light digestible game in between, I thought. I could play it with some friends as well, I thought. And this little clock thingy is so adorable. And come on, Bingo is loved by a lot of people, right? It is a classic, it is timeless and it is fun! It wouldn’t have survived for ages if it is nothing like that!
Let’s see how long this game survived on my Switch.
I am tempted to only write “It is just Bingo!” here. But I can not do that. Instead of “story”, I will give you a little trivia here. If you are not up for some trivia regarding Bingo itself, please proceed to the next section.
As you might know by now, I am from Germany. Bingo is not very common and popular over here, but it gets a lot of attention for example in the US, the UK and the Philippines. But this does not mean it is hated by us Germans. Actually, we have some TV shows dedicated to Bingo here. Although I would lie to you if I would tell you that I had ever watched some of them.
So I thought I would try this game, which got invented by Hugh J. Ward in the early 1920s. He even published a book with the rules, but Bingo got its name in 1929 from Edwin Lowe. He was also responsible for pushing the popularity of this game. This fine American gentleman watched a few Spanish people play a game called “Beano” with beans, rubber stamps and a cardboard sheet in Atlanta. If you could complete a row, they shouted “Beano!”. Lowe liked this game so much so that he played it with his friends in New York. It is actually a rumour, but I read that instead of “Beano” a woman was shouting “Bingo” in excitement as she played the game with him. He liked that better, so he kept on using this word instead.
But I found out that some sort of similar game was played in the nineteenth century in German schools to teach children spelling, animal names and math as well thanks to this little research. Well, my school sucked, I guess.
You still there? Great, sorry for the random rambling! I will talk about the game now, I promise!
About music… Well. I love music and I do not mind to listen to the same track over and over and over AND over. I really don’t. Don’t worry, I will not ramble about stupid stuff again for too long. But Bingo has not much of a variety here. Coming along with bubbly sounds, I had fun listening to it while playing. I liked the catchy tune a lot. The only let down was that it is getting repetitive a lot because Bingo for Nintendo Switch lacks variety. In fact, there is none. The song starts at the starting screen and does not even get interrupted while picking a mode or you actually start your round of Bingo.
I would have liked at least one song for each mode, but oh well. I have to admit that the music was made carefully and they marked the sound effects of getting a number or when making a mistake pretty on spot.
Bingo being Bingo, I wondered how they would visualise this game on the console. I gotta say, it has a very nice presentation. It is rich in colour and the little clock as some sort of mascot is just too adorable. They put a lot of effort into the graphics. The icon in the Switch menu is just so much fun to look at. It appealed to me, to be honest. They did the best they could to give it a good digital makeover.
Let’s get back to the basics here. You play Bingo while holding the Joy-Con in a vertical position. Something I struggle with, to be honest. I grew up playing retro games, but since the Nintendo 64 era, I loved this kind of controller. It is just too flimsy for me sometimes. Although, this is just my personal preference. You are not able to play it in any other variation, just sometimes in horizontal grip in coop mode. Some modes provide you with a so-called “lay flat mode”. It makes the top of the screen rotate 180 degrees, so it is easier to play in handheld mode while sitting opposite of each other.
Playing the game by just being able to use the touchscreen is not an option. But we will get to that later. If you accidentally make a mistake in grabbing a number which is not on your card, you end up facing a little penalty. You get blocked for a little amount of time.
You got four modes included in this game: Buzzer Bingo, Slide Bingo, Bingo Poker and Classic Bingo. All modes can be played alone or with up to four players in local multiplayer.
If you select the Buzzer Bingo-mode, you compete against the computer (or friends) to see who can get the number the fastest. One random number appears on the screen and you push the X button to grab it once you can see it on your card. The player with the best reaction gets the number and turns the tile red. If you are a slowpoke, the number will be grey and unavailable to get in the game.
With Slide Bingo Starsign gave you the possibility to play Bingo in another style. You move the rows around to align your red tiles on the card to make your row complete. You select the row and direction you want to move. Any direction from up/down and left/right is possible. Your selected row will start moving in the desired position when you press the button. But be careful, if you move your row, the other player’s rows will be moves as well!
Put on your poker face for some Poker! Sorry, Poker Bingo! It works like this: you try to get a Bingo using the already existing red tiles with the new numbers you get. In each round, the bubble in the middle generates a fast bunch of numbers. By pressing the X-button, you draw a random number on your turn. If this card happens to be on your card, you can grab it. if not, you give it up. Sadly, if you have a match, you cannot only get it here. Every time you receive a number on your card, you have to discard one of your own, making it available for other players to grab (and maybe getting a Bingo). At the same time, it makes it unavailable for you for the rest of the game. So choose wisely which number you discard while paying attention to your own and the others charts.
If you want to grab a number another player cannot use for themselves, you are provided with an option that is called “Get”. Up to three of those “Get” are provided to you in each round.
That is the fastest mode to explain. You have your card and use the joystick to move up to a number if you have it on your card, pressing the X-button to claim it for yourself.
The controls respond well in every mode. I had no problems whatsoever while playing in handheld and TV mode. But I would have been happy to have the ability to use the touchscreen in Classic Bingo mode at least. When a number popped up in the middle of the “action”, fiddling the cursor around your card to reach the number was a hassle. I was in a hurry to catch that number for me and sometimes I ended up being too late because it sprung to the number next to it. I was not very fond of that, but on the bright side, that was the only thing I had issues with when it comes to the controls.
Your competition from the computer is challenging but not too unfair. In Buzzer Bingo, I often felt too slow when your card is full of numbers and you have to scan all the way across it.
Bingo is a classic, we do not have to discuss that and with its simple rules, you can come up with many different modes. The developer really came up with a lot of content. You are provided with four modes that you can enjoy with up to four local players. Well, if you enjoy Bingo.
And that is the crucial point here. If you do not enjoy the game, then this game has nothing to offer for you. With a lot of titles hitting the Switch after the Nintendo Direct and the Nindies showcase, Bingo would have done so much better in a compilation of many mini-games like that.
* A review copy of this game was provided to SwitchWatch by Starsign.
Effort visible in sound effects/graphics
No replay value
No variation in music
It's just... Bingo