Hacky Zack Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Digerati

Publisher: Digerati

Release Date: Out Now

Price as of Article: $9.99 USD, £8.99 GBP

Game code provided by Digerati for review

Story

There is no story in Hacky Zack. There’s not even an intro for the title.

Gameplay

Hacky Zack focuses on little characters kicking a small beanbag or Hacky Zack around a small level with bottomless pits surrounding each area. Game requires platforming skills and stunts to traverse these contained stages, as you progress through 100 levels across 6 worlds of intense kicking and platforming stunts. You can also gather stamps to unlock extra levels in target mode, as well as extra characters to play in goal mode or in the 2 player co-op.
There are two main modes: target mode and goal mode. The objective in goal mode is to kick the beanbag into the golden goal on each level.

As you progress through the 6 worlds you’ll encounter lots of different traps and platforming sections that require some serious skills to get around. Also there’s an extra incentive as well, as each level has a stamp in it. To collect them however, is not so simple, you’ll need to kick a beanbag into them to pick them up. Sounds easy but believe me it’s not.

If you try and collect them normally, nothing will happen. The difficulty lies in using simple controls to get the beanbag where it needs to go and then get it back to the goal which is easier said than done.

Hacky Zack Screenshot
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The main controls are: kick with the Y button, jump with the B button, and you move with the analogue stick or direction-pad, it’s up to you which one you prefer. My preference was the analogue stick as it’s easier to aim. Also, you can kick the beanbag up, left and right, as well as down with the analogue stick.

While it was satisfying when managing to get a hard to reach stamp or get the beanbag to its destination in as few hits as possible, it soon became annoying as levels started becoming really difficult early on.
There’s no easing you into how the game plays… No tutorials or nothing. It’s really frustrating as the game expects you to just do it, and there’s nothing to help you to adjust, which hurts the overall experience quite a lot.

It made my experience highly frustrating, which is something I don’t enjoy. Trying to get the beanbag where I wanted it to go was sometimes ridiculously hard, as it bounced off walls and fell down pits.

I mean, would it have hurt to add a tutorial section or a few levels to learn basics of wall jumping while trying to kick the ball up a vertical wall?  It’s like patting your head while rubbing your tummy difficult.
So I grew tired of goal mode and tried target mode instead. The main objective here is to kick the beanbag into all the gold diamonds around the level within the least amount of time. When will developers understand that modes like this aren’t engaging, they can be quite boring especially as the game has no leaderboards or online share records.

Hacky Zack Screenshot 2
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It’s just your typical target mode, very similar to Treadnauts, but at least Treadnauts’ target mode was playable. Hacky Zack is just downright frustrating to play and I didn’t enjoy it. Though some of the unique mechanics from goal mode are here, like traps and moving platforms, to spice things up somewhat.

I mean there are people who enjoy these types of modes, who will probably get a kick out of it, even though there’s no way to share your best times, apart from posting to social media with the screenshot function or video capture on Switch, which is supported.

I’d say the only saving grace is 2 player co-op mode which is actually a lot more fun with a friend. First thing out of my friend’s mouth was: “You would think this game would have some sort of tutorial, wouldn’t you?” OK, I thought, not a great first impression. However, it changed dramatically from that point, as you can play co-op in both target and goal mode, even though we weren’t fantastic at the game. It was a lot more fun and we laughed a lot! So I would definitely say multiplayer is where it’s at.

Audio

One thing I can’t fault is the relaxing music, which calmed my nerves after playing Hacky Zack. I ended up leaving my Switch running as the music played. It kind of reminded me of a Zen like soundtrack I’ve heard, somewhere. The soundtrack was created to be relaxing, stress relieving and I think it works well.

My only con is that the character’s grunts and shouts are annoying to constantly listen to. I wish there was an option to turn it down or off, that would have been appreciated.

Visuals & Performance

Another highlight is the visuals, which I thought looked rather lovely. The little characters are very cute looking and have some rather amusing animations. Such as Zack yawning and Mym fixing her glasses. The presentation is also very clear and clean, and levels themselves are pleasant to look at. The performance was perfect and I had zero issues with anything, everything ran well.

Value

Hacky Zack is priced at £8.99, but is currently on sale as of writing this review.

What’s on offer is pretty good. You’ve got 100+ levels across 6 worlds, a plethora of characters that can be unlocked. Goal and target modes, as well as 2-player co-op, and I would say the game shines in co-op mode, definitely.

However, this is definitely not for everyone, as the game is really difficult and can get frustrating pretty quickly. I love platformer games, but this just rubs me the wrong way. While the platforming is solid, I just wasn’t into the whole kicking the beanbag around and constantly restarting got on my nerves.

Thankfully the co-op multiplayer is the best thing in the game, and is fun to spend time with.

Approach with caution, unless you’re really into the Hacky Sack trend.

Pros

P

Multiplayer co-op

P

Cute cast of characters

P

Zen–like soundtrack

Cons

P

Frustrating

P

Only 2-player local

P

No tutorials

P

Steep learning curve