Tuesday, January 22

Review: Pikuniku [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While not everyone will agree with me, I thoroughly enjoy games that can take simple mechanics and explore them in ways that can be silly but bring a sense of joy. I think that could just about sum up what Pikuniku is, it’s what impressed me with it when I first got to experience it at PAX, it’s the feeling I got playing the solo adventure mode, and it carried over into playing it co-op with my wife. On the Switch the only game that I can think of that had quite the same overall feel to it was Snipperclips, though thankfully in co-op this experience isn’t so much built on precision as brute force silliness and expecting that you’ll make it work eventually.

If you’re interested to know anything at all about the story in the game you can check out the video, but as a whole I’d say if you’re thinking of getting it you’ll want to see and know as little as possible. The story is hardly complex but it’s all about the weirdness and quirks, experiencing those outside of the game experience will just likely make it feel a bit less special. You’re on a mission to prove to the world you’re not a terrible Beast, meet people, solve problems, look for coins and hidden areas, and collect a variety of trophies and hats. To do that you’ll just need to be observant, patiently experiment to find ways to get to new places or trigger new events, and generally keep a smile on your face as much as possible while playing.

Given your quirky movement and abilities limited to jumping, rolling into a sort of ball, and kicking things while there are only 9 levels that fly by far too quickly I think co-op mode is a real treat. Granted, you and your partner will likely get frustrated with each other and periodically get into fruitless kicking matches, knocking each other all over the place, but working together is some great silly fun. You’d never have thought that getting a ball up onto a platform to sit on a switch would be so challenging, but with your limited abilities creativity and a splash of luck are typically required for success at times. Whether you’re in a race against each other, connected on a tether, or trying to navigate a maze-like set of corridors that you’ll need to work together to get through it’s just simple fun probably anyone could enjoy.

Pikuniku is generally over too quickly, both solo and in co-op, and it may be too simplistic or silly for some folks but for me it was a joy pretty well the entire time. Focused on discovery, some creativity, and filled with strange surprises and quirks, it absolutely feels at home on the Switch and would probably work for people of any age or skill level if they simply have some patience. I’d love to see a sequel with even more funky fun, and am hoping to see more easygoing titles like it on Switch in the coming year.

Score: 8

  • A game that probably anyone could get the hang of and enjoy if they aren’t dead inside
  • The story in adventure mode is weird and its characters and situations are fun
  • Co-op play offers quite a bit of fun variety

  • Both the solo and co-op modes feel like they’re over too quickly
  • Hardcore gamers will probably be offended by its overall simplicity