Release Date: Out Now
Price as of Article: $9,99 USD, £7,69 GBP
There is no story in Clusterpuck 99 so we will not score it on this as of course that would be unfair. Clusterpuck 99 is a game which was built for up to 8 players to play in team-based action as long as you use 8 single Joycons. This is the type of game I see the Switch being perfect for. It would have been great to have had this review released before Easter. However, I had to use Easter to play the game with at least six people to get the best out of it but is it worth your hard earned cash? Let’s find out.
There is some nice backing tracks in Clusterpuck 99 which is the right fit for this type of game. It’s good that the volume is also quite low as to not interfere. I love the intro tune which took me back to the 80s and 90s with its electro-synth melody. In terms of sound effects, they are simple enough but work really well. A nice crowd screaming yea when you score or ooooooo when you got close to scoring. The counters that you control which look like curling stones make a nice swish sound when you use your speed boost, bashing opponents gives a nice thud sound and shooting the puck sounds as it should. There are obstacles in some of the maps like spikes, or bouncy parts which all have their own sound effects so for a simple game the sound is very accomplished.
Visuals and performance
In terms of visual design, it’s a pleasant enough looking game and functional in what it sets out to do but there are no bells and whistles here except for when you win a match and get some fireworks and added replays which is actually a nice touch when you score. That’s the extent of the flashiness which is absolutely fine in a game like this. The bonus is having the map editor which is nice and simple to use allowing you to create your playing maps. Everything is clear enough from obstacles, the puck and players having their names above their controllable circular players with their own little avatars. There is some customisation also in terms of the team’s colours. Our favourites were either having our player counters on fire or a nice hint of glitter flowing out of them. The maps can either be very simple or complex and everything in between and look fine.
I would add that this is best played on a TV just because it’s quite difficult if there a quite a few of you playing on the switch screen, it can be hard to see the puck and manoeuvre your players if not close enough to the screen and when six of you are playing it can be tough to get a good view! so simple maps are best in this mode. You really need the larger real estate to take advantage of this game so think of it as more of a couch game with friends in front of a TV for best results.
This is probably one of the most simple games I have played on the Switch and in terms of gameplay it really isn’t that complex to explain. You can play in teams of 1v1 2v2 3v3 or 4v4 and if there is an odd number you can always add in AI players to make up the numbers although I wouldn’t recommend it as the AI is not very bright! Think of it as an evolved version of air hockey.
A team based game
I managed to test the game in a 3v3 situation 1v1 and 2v2. The game is super simple, choose a map to play on, which range from the very simple to the insane with obstacles all over the place making it difficult. The goal of the game is to get control of the puck and to score in the goal of your opponent. You can customise how you play from the map choosing to have a timed match where whichever team scores the most goals in the time allocated wins to the first team to getting a certain amount of goals wins. We liked our matches to either be 3 minutes long or the first to 5 goals which just seemed perfect for us.
Each player controls their player which is depicted as a little round counter circle with the analogue stick and tries to gain control of the puck. Just by touching the puck with your player, it attaches to you, and you can move around with it on the map. Pressing the A button passes the puck or you can use it also for a soft shot. Pressing A without the puck makes your player temporarily boost which you can use to tackle an opposing player to get control of the puck or use to bash your opponent so they relinquish control of the puck. B is used to stop your player quickly or to unleash a power shot which is shown with a green little bar. The two button controls are nice and simple and lend themselves perfectly to using 1 Joycon. The challenge and skill come into how you use your players on your team and how adept you become in your positioning and reading the game.
Passing the puck is key
The most skilled teams will be the ones that figure out how to pass to each other and to make the most out of the space to score goals. Figuring out the maps and how to take advantage of the dangers is also imperative especially in the more complex ones. Whether it’s pushing players off the edge or into spikes to gain advantages. I have to admit that the game for us was best played on maps which were simple. The overly complex ones were just not enjoyable as it didn’t really allow us to enjoy the game as much or to get into a flow. I am sure everyone will have their favourites and it’s good that more complex maps have been added.
Not a game to fly solo
This game then is not really for a single player and even 1 v 1 is pretty boring as all you can really do is dribble with the puck yourself trying to outsmart one other player. While you can add AI to make up the numbers I didn’t enjoy it much like this as the AI just isn’t smart enough even when set to the hardest level and this is one of the game’s issues.
This game is meant for party situations and in that sense, it succeeds with aplomb. Never have I seen so much trash talk in between our family than when we set up teams of 3v3. It was just great fun. Such a simple game but one that is wonderful to play in teams. Just remember you will need enough Joycons as this supports up to 8 players. There are 30 maps to choose from and if you get tired of those then make your own with the level editor. There are also Switch exclusive maps and ones which are recommended for the numbers of players playing or if your playing in tabletop mode.
The only thing missing is the ability to share maps which you have made with the community or any sort of online modes. There could have been a little more complexity in the passing and shooting ability of each player but then keeping it simple always works wonders in games such as this so I have no real complaints on that front.
The game is $10 dollars or £7,69 in the UK and if you can get 4-8 players together then this is worth every penny but if you can’t then give it a miss. This is a game which will come out every time we get the family together along with Jackbox and we know we are going to have an awesome time so for me it’s worth your hard earned cash if you can get in that type of situation often enough. Even if it’s only holidays then it’s still worth it in my eyes.
Fantastic fun in a party with 4 players or more
If your looking for a good solo game then look elsewhere.