If you’re like me and most of your social events mean whipping out the party games with your friends, I’m sure you have come across Gang Beasts before. This fast-paced, action-packed beat ’em up has been a popular release by Boneloaf since its initial release in 2014. Since then, the title has become available on most major consoles, so it has been highly praised for many years (as you can probably imagine).
So what took Boneloaf so long to bring it to Nintendo Switch? Seven long years of playing on various platforms, what was the incentive to finally bring it to Switch? Let’s take a look.
STORY: Good things come to those who wait
If you weren’t already familiar with the party game, there isn’t a story to follow. There’s no campaign, no quest; it is just a free for all from the beginning. Unlike other fast paced co-op games like Overcooked or Castle Crashers, which both have a set in stone campaign to follow – Gang Beasts just doesn’t. I think that’s one of the reasons it is such a popular party game. You don’t have to worry about playing the same levels over and over again, mastering the script and knowing all the secrets to success. You can just pick up a controller and have a good time. Which is what I would argue to be one of the main selling points to Gang Beasts.
Essentially, you are a citizen of ‘Beef City’ where you are constantly engaging in hilarious slapstick violence with fellow city goers. There are numerous dangerous locations to brawl in, using the decaying city to your advantage. You play a sort of, gelatinous character, with very little bone structure. There are few games which have made me have to clutch my stomach with laughter, but Gang Beasts is definitely one responsible for that. Character style is very similar to Human Fall Flat, where you can push your inhuman body to its limits without feeling any repercussions.
After many years it is finally here
For some reason, this approach to characters is something I have found hilarious since I was very small. Gang Beasts has always been a joy and I have many fond memories with the title, so much like everyone else I was extremely excited to discover its release on the Switch.
Releasing the title on Nintendo Switch is a great opportunity for the title’s fanbase to expand. Many fans have been waiting for this release since the Switch came out, since it’s a family orientated console and this game is also very family friendly. So this release has definitely been a highly anticipated one. Being available on a portable console means you always have a fun party game to take with you everywhere. It’s definitely enjoyable, but unfortunately it hasn’t translated as well as it could’ve.
GAMEPLAY: Out with the old but not in with the new
Having experienced Gang Beasts on several platforms, playing it on the Switch felt lacklustre. Whilst the title runs smoothly on Xbox and PlayStation, the Nintendo Switch release feels unfinished and laggy. Any sort of movement causes a pretty intense drop in frame rate. Which is a shame considering how enjoyable and quick I know this title can be. It isn’t unheard of the Nintendo Switch to reduce the quality and FPS of games. So although I didn’t expect it for this title, I am somewhat not surprised. Anything that involves many characters moving and functioning in different ways on screen will always cause a dip, but this is a pretty severe example.
In any levels involving movement, be it falling objects like ‘chutes’ or background animation like in ‘lighthouse’, this will pretty drastically slow your match down. I gave these maps a good few goes to make sure it wasn’t my console. It definitely wasn’t. If, like me, you have played this game prior to its release on Nintendo Switch, you will also know how smooth these levels are supposed to run.
In addition to this lag, I found the lack of new content also disappointing. For a game so familiar with its audience, I would’ve thought the release on Switch would lead to some Nintendo inspired levels, or at least a Mario and Luigi skin. Alas, the developers released the regular game with no special additions.
Fun for first time players
The controls were as easy to pick up as the first time you sit to play Gang Beasts, so I had no issue with that. I would definitely not recommend using a single joy con to play, but maybe that’s just me being picky. I found it way too small to be able to play at my usual competitive level. So if you can, use the dual setup. It’s much easier when trying to pull off a drop kick or scale the side of a tower. Alongside my distaste to using a single joycon – button presses seemed to be delayed at times. Grabs took too long and before I knew it, it was too late. Jumps were slow and even running came to a halt after a few seconds. Going hand in hand with level lag, I left the game feeling disappointed and frustrated.
On the occasion that Gang Beasts did run smoothly, I can’t deny the fact it was a very amusing experience for all. It is definitely a great game resulting in many laughs, and it continues to be that even on Nintendo Switch. It’s just a huge shame that it ran faulty more often than not. If I needed to boot this game up at a social event, and the only console it was available on was Nintendo Switch, I’d maybe go for it. But if there was an alternative nearby where I knew it wouldn’t feel like a frustrating game, I would definitely reach for that.
AUDIO AND GRAPHICS: Singing the same old songs
The release on Nintendo Switch hasn’t changed anything about the classic, bright, Gang Beasts style we all know and love. As I mentioned already, all the levels have been carried across from other platforms. All of which have that basic, block colour design to them. I did notice one difference though. Whilst some levels do mirror this colourful style, others really seem dulled down. Once again I feel like this is the Switch reducing the quality, which is what it seems to do best. Even some of the character colours seem darker than usual. I always play as pink in the tiger costume, don’t ask why, it just stuck. Usually it’s a very pale, bubblegum colour, but in the Switch release it looks tarnished and dark.
I found it really hard to adjust to. Some features seemed so dull and plain but the most unexpected, tiny elements were so detailed. When you win a level, you get a star shaped balloon next to your icon. On other platforms these balloons are so basic in design they go by almost unnoticed. Meanwhile on Switch they are hyper realistic golden trophies of success.
Honestly, they feel a little out of place with how neon they are compared to other aspects of the title. Of course I love shiny things, who doesn’t? It’s a reminder of the fact you’ve spent one too many hours practising a game you know will come up in conversation. But I really can’t help feeling like I would rather go without.
Something to rely on
The soundtrack of Gang Beasts is one piece of it which I can’t critique though. It’s fun, it’s upbeat, it’s reminiscent of what the game is supposed to be about. Quick games which end up in joyful frustrations with one another. The sound effects are comical and everyone still asks which button it is to make your character laugh. It’s still fun, even if it does feel so unfinished. If this was my first experience with the title I don’t think I’d recommend it so highly. But if you haven’t played it before, you might find it more enjoyable than I did.
Gang Beasts was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by Neonhive.