Delightfully weird and silly, music fans should absolutely have a blast with this, though there’s no doubt it has challenges
As a major band dork who was a trumpet player (sorry, based on the game’s factoids it would be “The Coward’s Trombone”), when I’d heard about Trombone Champ I was really eager to get my hands on it. Now, with it here on Switch, I’ll definitely say that it has been a while since a game managed to make me laugh so much, mostly with its pure absurdity. Bizarre biographical information, an obsession with baboons and hot dogs, background art and animations that help further bring what you’re playing to life, there’s absolutely no question Trombone Champ swings for the fences in being entertaining and mostly connects. That said, I’d point out that this is a far better weird and entertaining novelty game than it is a music game, though an appreciation for bands and music will absolutely help you have a deeper appreciation for the experience. The biggest issue is with the controls, which the game goes to some pretty exhaustive lengths to make work for everyone, but it gets caught on the same issue all titles making the mistake of relying too heavily on motion controls with Switch make… that they simply don’t work very well the more you try to use them. Sure, the songs start out pretty well, and I’d say that tilt controls with the Pro Controller worked the best for me (most of the rest, like using the IR from the JoyCon, were pretty uncomfortable for quickly pressing the button for notes, even if the sliding for hitting notes worked well enough), but it doesn’t take terribly long for the calibration to start to go south on you. This can result in some pretty uncomfortable angles as you try to compensate, and unfortunately it’s the tougher songs where you typically pay the price. The thing is, even when I would generally feel like I’d done the worst job possible I could often grab a B rating, so the game can be forgiving, but failing to note the control struggles would be criminal. To be clear, as I’ve pointed out in other motion control reviews, this is an across the board problem for all games using them, so I consider it an issue with the Switch hardware rather than the fault of developers, but that doesn’t make the issue go away either. Despite this issue as a big fan of quirky games I’m here to say I’ve had a blast with it anyway, and with some friends it makes for an absolute mess of off-key notes and laughter so that’s a plus. I’d love to see a bit more refinement, but it’s a unique experience music lovers should generally adore for its sheer audacity and diverse track list.
Justin Nation, Score:
Nindie Choice! [8.1]