In its short time on the market, the Nintendo Switch has quickly become THE console to own for local multiplayer games. This is precisely what Nintendo had in mind when it designed the Switch to play games in handheld, tabletop, and TV modes with numerous control options, including the ability to slide off the Joy-Con controllers to “share the joy”. Ghost Town Games is the latest small developer to jump on board the couch co-op hype train to deliver a truly frenetic experience with Overcooked: Special Edition.
When it comes to successful multiplayer games, very often the concept needs to be simple and easy to understand. This is very much the case here, with only one analog stick and two buttons needed to perform all of the various actions in the game. Overcooked is instantly accessible and players, no matter their levels of gaming expertise, will be able to have fun participating. The concept is rather simple: create the dishes that patrons ask for. Execution can be the real challenge.
The game starts off simply enough with dishes that are fairly easy to create. For example, you might need to make onion soup, which requires you to chop up some onions, put them in the cooking pot, placing the soup in a bowl, and sending it out for consumption. The challenge is that there’s a timer with more and more orders coming in, so each player needs to pull his or her own weight and help the endeavor. Assigning tasks to specific people is often the way to go, but complications often arise. Sometimes it takes longer than expected for one task to complete, and that bottlenecks the entire operation. Other times players mess up or misstep, and that can throw a wrinkle into the mix that wasn’t anticipated. Needless to say, the best laid plans can, an usually do go off the rails rather quickly – oftentimes leading to a friendly screaming match as the entire kitchen literally burns down around you.
Of course the game likes to throw in its own set of crazy events to keep everyone on their toes. The kitchen layout is often designed in the most unorganized way, making you travel back and forth across the screen to complete the simplest of tasks. As you unlock new levels, the kitchens become more intricate and crazy. One has you in the back of two moving food trucks that often travel at different speeds. Only when they meet up again can you toss your stuff to the other side to keep on cooking up the meals. Another has the entire kitchen rocked by an earthquake, splitting the kitchen into smaller pieces making certain areas inaccessible for a period of time. Every item takes time to create and prepare, but leave food on the stove too long and it can burn. Take too long to prepare the meal and the order can be cancelled. Sometimes these randomized events in the levels (like rats coming out and taking your ingredients) can really add another layer of stress to your operation. You’ll need to do your best as a team to successfully prepare meals quickly to earn points and stars to unlock new levels.
As the name of the game implies, this is the Special Edition, which means it includes some extra bonuses. First up, the game utilizes the Switch’s HD Rumble inside the Joy-Con controllers. This allows for minute rumble effects for things like dicing vegetables, and you can even slightly feel liquid moving around while carrying soup. It’s not earthshattering cool, but it’s a nice touch. Also included are two expansions: The Lost Morsel and Festive Seasoning. In total the game has 44 levels to conquer and over 20 different chefs to play.
Graphically the game is nothing we haven’t seen before. The art direction is pleasant and has a cartoony aspect to it that fits the world well. The game has a few dips in frame rate from time to time, but it’s nothing that really hampered our experience. The sound is a mixed bag. Some of the music is entertaining, but some is equally annoying. The game won’t be remembered for its soundtrack.
If you haven’t yet purchased Overcooked on a competing console or PC, then this version will suit you nicely. With the expansions included and the ease in which you can play the game with players on the go or at home makes Overcooked: Special Edition the version to get. It’s a ton of fun with multiple players, but not so much solo, so keep that in mind when it comes to a purchasing decision. If you’re the type that has easy access to friends or family who like to play games, then this is a perfect fit for your Switch. Just don’t be surprised if the gaming session turns into a shouting match very quickly!