Don’t let the cute doggos and silly hats fool you; Double Pug Switch is a challenging platformer and is not for the faint of heart. Double Pug Switch is developer The Polygon Loft’s first game, and I am impressed with just how much thought and consideration went into this humble yet hearty little game. They describe their title as a precision-platformer, and there is no better way to put it.
Story – Collar Of Duty
There isn’t a huge amount of story here. The premise is quite simple: Whiskers is a cat and does cat things in his owner’s lab. This results in some kind of dimensional rift, sucking Whiskers and the intrepid pug protagonist through some kind of portal created by knocking over a set of vials containing what presumably dangerous and volatile substances are.
Once on the other side of the portal, Otis gains the dimensional shift ability allowing him to phase in and out of various states while Whiskers, or Lord Sker, as he prefers to be called, has become some kind of cat/machine hybrid. Lord Sker seeks to find a dimension full of cats so that he can return to his reality and take over the world with his army of felines.
This all unfolds at the start of the game within an endearing and entertaining cinematic.
It’s now up to Otis, the bobble-eyed hero of this game, to travel through various dimensions and put a stop to Lord Sker’s evil plan. Hopefully, there is enough of Whiskers left in Lord Sker that he can be saved as well.
Gameplay – Dogged Determination Required
As the headline implies, this is a rather intense and challenging platformer.
The controls are simple – Otis runs automatically, and the player has to simply jump and phase through dimensions avoiding obstacles, spikes and pitfalls. This reminds me of games like Bit Trip Runner but also invokes a bit of Celeste in the design, which I will get to in a moment.
The endless runner similarities are mostly in that our heroic doggo legs it automatically, but each of the levels has a distinct beginning and end. There are checkpoints along the way in most levels, which is a boon as some segments are so challenging that it would require much more repetition making the game more of an exercise in frustration than an entertaining challenge if they were absent.
As simple as the controls are, Double Pug Switch is not an easy game. Jumps and dimensional shifts have to be timed perfectly, and even a single mistake will send you back to the last checkpoint you reached.
By default, the jump is mapped to A, and shift is mapped to B, but personally, I found making use of the remapping function in the Switch’s settings menu very helpful here and remapped the dimensional shift to the R shoulder button instead, allowing me to shift dimensions much quicker after a jump.
There is also a dedicated Bark button, and this is definitely a good thing.
Each dimension has a different color scheme and backdrop. The use of color is important due to the fast gameplay – you have to be able to identify which platforms will be solid depending on which dimensional state Otis is in, and I am happy to report that the palettes that were chosen make this easy to do.
Depending on what dimension you are in, the color palette will change, and the multicolored platforms and spikes either exist or don’t exist depending on which phase Otis is in.
The levels are well-designed and satisfying to complete. I did not think I would enjoy this game as much as I did, but the creativity in level design won me over.
Double Pug Switch is not reinventing the wheel here, but rather combining some tried and true gameplay elements to create what I believe to be a satisfying and thoughtfully designed game that will please lovers of precision-platformers as well as those looking for a unique challenge that is easy to pick up and play.
Practise Makes Purrfect
I found great enjoyment in overcoming some of the really challenging segments, requiring precise timing for jumps and shifts.
Some levels require you to jump or fall through certain platforms, and generally, there are various ways to complete each level, which encourages experimentation. This design element also lends itself well to replayability, as with most levels, there are different routes one can take to get to the end portal.
There are also boss levels at the end of each dimension, in which you have to take on Lord Sker in his Dr. Robotnik-esque ship as he launches volleys of rockets and laser beams at Otis.
I did not find these boss levels overtly challenging compared to the regular levels, but they still required some repetition in order to overcome them without being fried or blown up by a laser beam or missile, respectively. That said, unlike the regular levels, there are no checkpoints, so dying means starting from the beginning.
You will notice that there are a bunch of different colored coins littering each level. These are used to purchase cute hats for our intrepid pug hero.
The hats serve no real purpose aside from making an already goofy-looking dog look a bit sillier and also giving completionists who love collectibles an extra challenge.
Most of the coins are gold in color, but there are some hats that can only be purchased using the rare purple coins. To get these, one will have to re-play some of the levels and use a different path to claim their prize.
Obstacles And Powerups
Most of the obstacles in Double Pug are spikes and pitfalls, but these are not the only things one should be wary of. Running into a wall and causing Otis to come to a stop will end your run as well.
Fortunately, there are some interesting powerups to be used here as well – one of which launches Otis as a type of super jump; another causes Otis to run at superspeed in spite of his pudgy little legs. My favorite one shrinks him into a miniature-sized puggo, which is really cute, and also allows him to take paths that would be inaccessible in his regular form.
Graphics – Simple Yet Stylish
The graphic style is simple, but it works well and goes to show that sometimes less really is more. The fast-paced gameplay benefits from this as there is little to distract the player from the task at hand. The characters are rendered in a paper cutout style similar to that of South Park, but the similarities are mostly superficial. It’s cute and blends in well with the simplistic level designs.
Each dimension has a different color scheme and backdrop. The use of color is important due to the fast gameplay – you have to be able to identify which platforms will be solid depending on which dimensional state Otis is in, and I am happy to report that the palettes that were chosen make this easy to do. This allows the player to focus on precisely timing his or her jumps and shifts.
Overall, while Double Pug Switch isn’t a graphical marvel, it is well-designed. This is especially apparent when looking at the overall character design and how it fits in with the level design. It’s easy to see that a lot of consideration went into making sure the player could stay focused on the challenging, enjoyable levels rather than somehow losing the character in the action.
Audio – Resonant Dimensions
Each dimension has an overall theme – industrial, prehistoric, among others. The soundtrack for each dimension follows the overall theme, with different renditions of the main theme for each level. I am pleased with the sonic variety in this game’s soundtrack. The different renditions of each dimension’s theme ensure that the music does not get too repetitive, even though most levels will require trial and error before you complete them.
I reviewed Double Pug Switch on Nintendo Switch. The game key was provided by Press Engine.