Summer Catchers is a magical driving sidescroller from FaceIT and Noodlecake Studios. Previously available on PC and mobile devices, the game now finds its way to the Nintendo Switch. It follows the adventures of Chu, a young girl from the North as she journeys to the South to find the elusive summer. The game mechanics are seemingly easy, however, looks can be deceiving. Players will soon realize that quick reflexes aren’t the only requirement when tackling the random obstacles and other surprises along the way.
At the start, players awaken their character as she’s napping in the bushes. After which, she moseys on over to a woodcraft shop run by a “funny” bear. Chu brings up that she has only experienced colder winters, expressing that she wants to find summer. The bear (who corrects Chu, reminding her that he’s a wolf) tells her that the forest is the answer. Wolf builds Chu a small vehicle that allows her to traverse the forest, which is full of obstacles and surprises. The vehicle is also equipped with a variety of tools that allow players to move past obstacles by either breaking them (without taking damage to the vehicle) jumping, flying, or zooming away.
Because players have a finite amount of tools between each drive, tools must be carefully rationed until after the run. It’s then that they are given the opportunity to purchase more. In addition, the player will sometimes have to perform special actions in addition to driving. Actions such as planting trees, smashing snowmen, or collecting berries, unlocking even more areas to explore. If the player fails to prevent obstacles from hitting the vehicle, it eventually breaks down, launching Chu before she drags the mangled vehicle into town for repair. The repairs happen quickly, and with a quick tap of a button, Chu is ready to race again.
As the game progresses, the obstacles become more challenging and come with even more tools to combat them. Players will have to strategize on the fly and adapt to what’s coming up for Chu. In addition, players will find themselves on “boss runs” where they have to be creative using their tools to outrun a snow monster or dodge aerial attacks from a crow.
What truly brings life into this endless runner is the dialogue. In order to move from area to area, Chu must complete little tasks in each area. This includes tasks like “smash X amount of snowmen” or “plant X amount of trees,” allowing players to progress. After completing various tasks and speaking to the characters in the area, we learn more about Chu and the world she lives in. Additionally, we can choose dialogue for Chu at certain situations, allowing players to drive the story for themselves.
The pixelated graphics of Summer Catchers are accompanied by a dynamic soundtrack. As players progress through the game, the music ebbs and flows to match the action happening on screen. The arcade-like charm adds to the simple beauty of the game, creating a low-pressure environment for players while being easy on the eyes.
Overall, Summer Catchers is an aesthetically pleasing game. The simple, yet dynamic details immerse players into a magically unique environment. Players looking for a calming and unique game will find an addicting, but low-pressure experience here. Summer Catchers is perfect for the experienced binge-gamer, or the casual player looking for something to chip away at over time.
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