Joggernauts, the latest from developers Space Mace (published by Graffitti Games), is pure, concentrated, athletic fun for your Nintendo Switch. The game opens with a robot named C.O.A.C.H. lecturing a ragtag group of aliens about his lost trophies and their exploded spaceship. Apparently, one of our intrepid alien joggers spilled the alien equivalent of one of those fruit-flavored sports drinks on the spaceship’s machinery, causing it to fragment into several pieces. It’s up to the team to retrieve the trophies and the lost parts!
Through the course of three planets, you’ll guide your team of joggers to accomplish the mission. There are plenty of options for teams—slug creatures, two different types of bipedal cat aliens, some bird thing, an alien with antlers, and three other mystery aliens, whom appear to be unlockable characters. There are several different colors available for each jogger.
Once your team is chosen, your robotic boss, C.O.A.C.H. takes you through a tutorial run, er, jog. He teaches the basics of the game—the use of three buttons, one to switch between colors and two others for jumping—and explains about using teamwork to succeed. The gameplay seems awkward at first, but after playing the level a few times it becomes much easier to play the game properly. The team possesses a life meter of five hearts that dissipate each time a jogger hits an obstacle. If both joggers are taken out simultaneously—or all fiver hearts are lost—the players must begin the level over from the checkpoint. There are collectible energy orbs that can be used to unlock the mid-way checkpoint during the level. A variety of power-ups appear throughout the games, including a jetpack (for increased jumping), magnets (for automatically collecting energy orbs), and a shield.
The game is a combination endless runner, platformer, and quick-thinking puzzler. There were several points during my playthrough where I was forced into thinking quickly in order to grab a particular trophy. Of course, I failed many of those times and was able to learn from my mistakes to complete the level. Your jogger aliens have unlimited lives, so it’s possible to learn to navigate a level simply by dying constantly—something that will likely happen often. The game is challenging and offers extensive variety with its puzzles. Collecting the trophies unlocks the boss stage for each planet, where successful completion helps your joggers acquire the (hilariously named) lost parts of a spaceship.
Graphically, the game has a fun, cartoonish quality. The colors are bright and the animations are clean, with plenty of fun elements throughout. There are even weather effects, such as rain, in many of the levels. The environments are unique and not only add personality to the game, but are incorporated into the puzzles. In one stage, there’s a gigantic eyeball in the background, watching the proceedings with great interest. In other stages, there are background creatures that make up part of the stage’s challenge and others where your joggers will use gravity, jetpacks, and switches (among other things) to make their way to each trophy. The levels all have humorous and fun names ala Donkey Kong Country that tell the player a little bit about what to expect.
The graphics are good, the story is fun and the controls are tight once you get used to them, but the the music in Joggernauts is where the game truly shines. It’s simply fantastic. Many levels contain different themes—or variations on a particular motif—that enhance and set the mood. In an underground level, for instance, the music takes on a dank, bass-heavy style. In bright sunny stages the music is happy, punchy and mirrors the atmosphere of the stage. Each piece of music is perfectly matched to each part of the game and flows from the game with a bright, clear, orchestral quality.
The composer, Robert Frost III, has a knack for writing catchy, atmospheric melodies and the soundtrack will soon be available for online purchase. While the music is amazing, the same can’t be said for the sound effects. Some of them are standard noises, like the jumping sound. These are generic, but don’t distract from the music. It’s when you change characters and the game says the color of the alien, complete with vocoder effect that it becomes a bit distracting. It’s a cool effect, but it’s mildly annoying. Luckily, the SFX can be brought lower in the mix via the game settings. There’s also a rumble and milkshake feature, which I turned off for my first playthrough. Messing with them afterward provided some additional fun through certain stages.
The multiplayer in this game works quite well and provides fun for the entire family. Things can get quite hectic during a level with multiple players on screen, but it only serves to enhance the experience. While I didn’t get the opportunity to explore this mode much, I will be returning to it often because ultimately I had a blast playing this game with my family and friends.
Because the levels are all relatively short with quite a bit of variety from stage to stage, the game has significant replay value. Some players will find themselves returning to certain levels looking for secrets (and there are secrets) or simply for the joy of replaying them. The shorter levels also provide an added bonus for some players: their brevity allows the game to be played in short bursts, without losing any of the fun or the plot. Whether you’re a busy, on-the-go gamer or looking for a casual gaming experience, Joggernauts is an addictive, fantastically fun game for the entire family.
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Joggernauts is colorful, whimsical game with no shortage of personality and replayability. It’s fun to play both solo or with a group of friends. Yet another great multiplayer game just begging you to share the joy!
Based in Colorado, David Buck is an author, musician, and media specialist. In his spare time, he composes music, writes science fiction, and builds scale models, mostly starships and movie cars.