Joggernauts Review: Left, Right, Left
Kalvin Martinez / Nov 1st, 2018 No Comments
Teamwork is a hard concept for many to grasp. What makes good teamwork? Is it trust, communication, selflessness, a strong leader to lead the team or does something else entirely define teamwork? Knowing what makes for strong teamwork often alludes many of us, whether it is in real life or in a video game.
Joggernauts is designed around strong teamwork. Even if you don’t know what good teamwork necessarily consists of, you will need to figure it out to master this game. In many ways, it is determined to teach you what it means to be a team — the punishment for not being one is severe. The experience is both chaotic and extremely fun.
Exercises in Team Building
In Joggernauts, you and your teammates have been tasked with retrieving the trophies for C.O.A.C.H. In a terrible accident caused by you, his trophy case is sucked out into space and his awards are scattered across multiple worlds. It is up to you (and up to three other teammates) to risk life and limb to recover those precious trophies. Why are you doing it? Because you didn’t flee to the escape pods.
Each world has multiple levels to explore. They are crafted to present a very specific challenge. The obstacles you face are there specifically to test your skills. Every world has its own unique color mechanic to overcome, be it color-coded enemies, color-based trampolines or color-activated levers. The worlds’ color-determined obstacles are there for a reason.
The gameplay itself seems simple: switch colors to match obstacles of the same color. In theory it should be easy, but in practice it is anything but. Honestly, Joggernauts is exceedingly difficult for several reasons.
When playing with others, Joggernauts becomes an exercise in extremely coordinated teamwork due to the need for precision and timing. Every player is responsible for choosing when they switch. You can’t switch a color, then switch back to the same color.
For example, say blue needs to be in front, but purple is there. Blue has to switch to the front, but if pink needs to be in front immediately after that, then green needs to be in front for a green enemy, then pink and green have to switch on their own.
You must call out your moves and hope that everyone has the reflexes to execute the timing. One mistake can cause a chain reaction where all your shared lives get wiped out. This becomes a major issue when dealing with a tangle of enemies of various colors. You will likely find yourself having to restart many levels due to poor communication and teamwork.
In many ways, Joggernauts is like rowing crew or marching in formation. If one person is out of sync, the whole thing crumbles and looks sloppy. Much like a world-class rowing team or an elite marching band, it takes a lot of close teamwork, trust and precision to pull off a beautifully orchestrated run.
Complicating matters further is the need to have accurate jumps for the platforming portions and the autorun nature of levels. In practice, it can be a chaotic mess where your friendship is tested. Re-doing the same part of a level 17 times because Jerry screwed up is infuriating. Don’t be a Jerry.
While multiplayer is a form of controlled anarchy where trust and teamwork are paramount, single player is a decidedly different beast. In many ways the same challenges that are present in multiplayer are still in single player, but success and failure rests squarely on one person: you. You are responsible for missing that trophy or not reaching the end of a level. If you screw up, you can’t blame Jerry (at least, not for this).
As a single-player experience, Joggernauts is an exceptionally difficult platformer where the limits of your reflexes and timing are tested. When playing with others, you have to communicate when you’re going to switch; alone, you have to contend with switching between two characters on your own. This isn’t the tough part.
What’s grueling is the jump timing and platforming. To make sure you make it to the end of a level, you must time out your jumps since the character in the front will reach a gap or jump first. The instinctive reaction is to hit both jumps at the same time, but it often leads to one of your characters beefing it.
This turns simple jumps into moments of great panic. However, you still need to be concerned with everything else preventing you from reaching the end, like switching between colors to avoid upcoming obstacles or grabbing vital orbs to activate a checkpoint or powerup. It is a lot to contend with, but the challenge is addictive.
Whether you play solo or multiplayer, you are going to be tested. Regardless, the experience is unique even if the gameplay is the same because each mode emphasizes a distinct quality for success. This means you can play the same level twice, but have a unique experience depending on how you play.
There are a ton of co-op games that require the use of teamwork, but they ain’t got nothing on Joggernauts. That is both its biggest strength and its weakness. The line between success and failure is so incredibly thin that if one person on the team isn’t doing his or her part, your whole team is done. The game can be frustrating, but sticking it out is worth it. The gameplay and level design are both charming and inventive. It also makes for one hell of a party game.
Joggernauts was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch with code provided by the publisher.
tags: Graffiti Games , joggernauts , joggernauts review , review , space mace