Saturday, September 30, 2017

Review: Astro Bears Party


Do you enjoy the old game Snake that you used to play on your phone or have you spent a substantial amount of time playing slither.io? If you answered yes to either of those questions and are thirsting for a similar experience to play with up to 4 friends on the Nintendo Switch Astro Bears Deluxe may just be for you!

With a slight variation on that theme Deluxe pits from 2 to 4 bears on a small planetoid and your objective is to stay alive while hoping to foil your opponents. The trick to it is much like the classic game of Snake in many ways your bear leaves a solid trail behind it as it runs. Anyone running into one of the trails will lose the round and the winner is the last bear still alive. That’s not to say there isn’t some small room for skill and technique as you’ll have a limited amount of boost that you’ll be able to use for boosting to jump (hold it down and you’ll stay in the air longer) or for running in a pretty quick burst.

Each bear has its own attributes but with the general rate of the matches, given that the trails are all permanent until the end of the round, my family and I found we just settled into which one suited our tastes the best and didn’t worry about the small variations. There’s the normal bear, a polar bear, a panda bear, and a bear that plain looks a little crazy. Thankfully those 4 individually suited a member of our family’s tastes but even if you all pick the same one you’ll each have a different color and truthfully with the split screen in effect and how quickly the matches go you don’t get much time to take it all in anyway.

I actually loaded up the single-player mode first and was a bit taken aback that it was really just a more polished 3D version of Snake where you could jump over your own trail. Not understanding this was just a preview of the full multi-player mode I actually couldn’t fathom why something so simple had been included. Once I played the game with the rest of my family at least the purpose of single-player mode became clear as if you’re really into the game it would provide an opportunity to practice.


If you’re waiting for the point in the review where I describe the rest of the content in the game I’m afraid I have bad news, truly what I’ve described is the extent of what is in the game. You can play a 2 - 4 Player variant of Snake where you can jump and dash and that’s really about it. You have an option to change the number of points you’ll play to and the size of the planet to either make the rounds incrementally shorter or longer but that’s all there is. There aren’t options to alter the rules or any tweaks, only the base game “as is”.

If the main attraction Party mode in Astro Bears appeals to you, then you’re in luck as it at least does a reasonably good job of providing the means to play some matches with your friends. My kids were slightly more enthused with it than my wife or I were so there’s a chance that with a less hardcore gaming audience it could make a connection. Unfortunately the lack of any real options or alternative modes to change things up makes it an all or nothing proposition. If you really love Snake and games like it with every fiber of your being there may be a good match here for you. If not, I can’t recommend it.

Score: 6

Pros:
  • It is a reasonably well-implemented 3D mutliplayer variant of Snake
  • People may find the look of everything to be cute
  • Forces me to break out some pretty grizzly puns
Cons:
  • There’s no getting around how “bear” bones this all is
  • Anyone who isn’t hooked by the type of game will likely find it un-”bear”-able
  • Single-player is “bearly” worth playing aside from if you’re looking to practice

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