When you go to the Switch eShop and run into a game titled Astro Bears Party, that doesn't leave much excitement left in the imagination. At first glance, it seems like a Mario Party knock-off that is both poorly-made and poorly-titled. At least, that was the impression I got going into the game.
As it turns out, Astro Bears Party is more competently crafted than you might expect and isn't a party game. It mimics older games like Snake and Tron, focusing more heavily on the multiplayer aspect and couch co-op. Altogether, it's a decent package, but how does it hold up after a few hours of play? Keep reading to find out.
Astro Bears Party is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $4.99.
Normally, we'd place a story section here, but there is no story to be found in Astro Bears Party apart from the small character descriptions that aren't even complete sentences. That said, we'll jump into the presentation.
When I first booted up the game, I was surprised to find a visually pleasing menu screen with cute bear icons that told me which buttons to press. The UI felt really polished, which is rare for games that cost you less than a meal at McDonald's. Compare to that to this year's Phantom Trigger, which costs $14.99 and was criticized for having ugly menus.
When actually playing the game itself, it still impressed me with how it presented itself. Every player is assigned a color, and when someone wins a round, a flash of their color comes over the screen in an aesthetically pleasing way. Overall, Astro Bears Party presents itself like a game that costs three times its retail price.
It might've nailed the presentation, but how does Astro Bears Party hold up in terms of gameplay? As I said before, it's very similar to Tron and Snake. You control a cute bear in a space suit as you travel along a 3D sphere. You leave a trail behind you that you cannot touch lest you die and lose the round. It's a simple concept to understand that will ensure that your little sister could give it a go. I will mention here that the game has a quick optional text and image tutorial that works extremely well.
When playing the game, there are only two modes to choose from: single player and party mode. In single player, you'll be traveling spheres trying to collect mobile fish called Jetfish. Collect enough of them and you'll move to the next stage, but hit your own trail and you start back at the beginning. As far as I noticed, there was no end to this mode and functions like an endless mobile game. That being said, the game misses an opportunity by having no online leaderboards (those only exist locally). As it stands now, the single player is more of a "one and done" experience.
The multiplayer is where you'll likely spend the most of your time if you have friends. Supporting up to four players, everyone selects a bear (there are four to choose from) and is put on the same sphere. The catch here is that you not only have to watch out for your own trail, but the trails of everyone else as well. Believe it or not, this mode actually got hectic with my friends and we shared several laughs along the way. It's important to note that in multiplayer, the trail doesn't slowly disappear like in single player, but remains stagnant to make each round move a little quicker.
Astro Bears Party also adds a little more complexity to the mix by giving the bears some abilities. For example, if you hold the jump button, you'll use a jetpack to give you a little more airtime. You can also do a quick dash to try and leave a trail right in front of your opponents. Adding to this moveset is the fact that every bear has different stats in speed, turning, jetpack duration, and jetpack regeneration. It's a small touch that takes the gameplay a little further and makes it more replayable.
Despite a lot of these good additions, Astro Bears Party likely won't keep you interested for more than an hour. You can't change the multiplayer apart from how many points you need to win and how big the map is. Furthermore, there is no single player content outside of hunting for the Jetfish. There are no unlockables either. In short, there's not a lot of incentive to keep playing, and you'll quickly see this title go to the back of your Switch library.
GRaphics & Audio
Starting with the visuals, Astro Bears Party won't blow you away, but that's to be expected. Everything gets the job done and each bear looks distinct, so that's something to note. Because there's so little to do in the game, there aren't a lot of assets created. I will say that it's a shame there's no background outside of the "purple wallpaper with stars." On top of that, the stages are all identical (ignoring size, of course).
In the audio department, it's about what you'd expect. The start-up music is a little too loud, which is the only complaint I can give. All of the sound effects fit what's happening on screen and there are no glitches that I noticed. You won't be humming the music, but it compliments the game. I should also mention that the game actually uses the HD Rumble effectively, which really surprised me. You'll feel the rumble of the jetpack and the click of each button as you scroll through the menus.
I should mention that the game performed fine in handheld mode, but when going through single player in docked mode, there was a dip in frame rate that got more noticeable as I progressed further. It doesn't make the game unplayable, but it's something to keep in mind when you're deciding where to play.
Astro Bears Party isn't a game that you look at, put on your wishlist, and save money to purchase. It's a quick and simple multiplayer game that would be more of an impulse buy. Despite its lack of content, no leaderboards, and frame rate drops, Astro Bears Party is worth the $4.99, as you'll get a decent amount of laughs along the way. If you don't have any friends to play it with, though, then we recommend you skip this one.
|+ $4.99||– Not worth it if you don't have friends|
|+ Fun with friends||– Lack of modes|
|+ Easy to pick up and play||– Frame rate drops in docked mode|