Over the past year, the Nintendo Switch has continued to see more combat arena games added to its rapidly expanding library. This genre has become a perfect fit for the local multiplayer focus of the system and we’re really seeing developers launch imaginative titles in this category. The team over at Grunka Munka Games has delivered with their game Collidalot; a post-apocalyptic jet car combat arena game set on rails…oh, and there’s painting involved too!
When looking at Collidalot on the Nintendo eShop page, you’ll likely end up slightly confused as to what you’re seeing, and what exactly the game is really about. It’s a game that is hard to encapsulate in screenshots just how frenetic and intense the moment-to-moment gameplay can be. It’s a game best played to fully understand its appeal.
Collidalot falls into the combat arena genre of games, but immediately finds its own hook. Instead of a traditional arena or dome, you are riding jet-powered post apocalyptically styled cars on rails, blasting your opponents as far off-screen as possible to rack up wins. It’s this combination of traditional arena combat tactics blended with rail riding that creates a solid multiplayer experience.
When launching into the game, you’ll be presented with the option to play a brief Training mode or the main Play mode. I found there was a bit of a learning curve to all of the mechanics. Given the pacing of gameplay, you’ll be juggling a few things at once. So I’d advise running through the Training tutorial first to get a better sense of your responsibilities as a jet car combatant.
Diving into the main Play mode, you’ll see how robust the options to customize a match or tournament are. I’ve played several arena games now on the Nintendo Switch, and most have a reasonable number of options to keep each match feeling fresh, but Collidalot really dialed up that meter and offered up some serious granularity in this field. It’s a bit hidden in their Game Mode Menu, but make sure to look at the Modifiers section for this micro tuning. I love that they even placed a randomize button for a quick and painless overhaul to the game’s core mechanics on the fly if you want. That way you never quite know what to expect!
When you’ve created the match type you want, you’ll be thrust into gameplay with almost no frills. Upon starting the match, you’ll have just a few brief moments to get your bearings as to where you’ll launch on-screen, and then the match quickly begins. Dependent on the mode you selected, you’ll either be gunning to be the last man standing, or you’ll be partaking in the game’s more popular ‘painting’ mode. Here the game sets you atop rails with your jet car, and while you’re zipping around them you’ll be spraying a trail of paint behind you. As the match comes to a close, the person or team with the most paint covered on the rails wins. This premise isn’t new to games (City Connection and Splatoon 2 come to mind), but definitely works well here.
Painting rails while at the same time trying to slam your opponents off of them is no easy task. Your jet car has some pretty useful powers that can help aid you, but good old-fashioned boosting into your opponent was most effective the majority of the time. Accurately controlling your vehicle poses some issues early on and it may take some time to warm up to the idiosyncrasies. Oftentimes when I tried to skip rails on a map, the auto-attach rail mechanic would make that transition a bit clunkier than I would have wanted. Riding smaller looped rails also became a bit more challenging to navigate off of for this same reason as well. The controls are far from terrible, but they’ll take you a handful of matches to really get used to and understand the nuances.
Thankfully if you find a map you’re struggling with there are quite a few others to select from instead. With 18 course to choose from across three environments (desert, tundra, quarry), there’s a lot to keep you busy.
Thematically and visually Collidalot has a lot going for it. You’ll find a lot of nicely drawn 2D art in the menus, and overall there is a gritty and sketchbook look that really works for this on the whole, as well as a catchy soundtrack to accompany everything. My biggest complaint is that because of the use of heavy geometry line weighting, a lot of the props and traps within gameplay come off very muddy and lacking strong definitions. It’s not enough to deter from the visual identity of the game by any means though.
Playing Collidalot is fun and unique. The implementation of a rail system truly sets this game apart in the right way and allows for clever gameplay mechanics in the arena combat genre. The learning curve isn’t quite as easy as I would have expected, but wasn’t too challenging to onboard myself well enough after a few matches. There’s a great visual flavor and a ton of customization options that can really shake up the core mechanics to make unique match setups if you want to, keeping you playing for many hours with your friends or even solo against AI.
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Collidalot delivers a unique and engaging combat arena game with a flavorful visual style. The game has a bit of a learning curve, and without any progressive unlocks, what you see is what you get. There is a ton of match customizations to keep the game feeling fresh whether playing solo or with friends.
Alex has been actively gaming since the release of the Nintendo. Turning passion into profession, he’s spent just over a decade in game development, and is currently the Creative Director at a studio.