I’ll admit, I’ve been a little hesitant to play new Nintendo Switch games. A lot of the ones I’ve picked up lately have been just average – or worse – games that are more suited for mobile phones than a console with the potential of the Switch. I am always optimistic though, and Pikuniku looked similar to a game I enjoyed on the PSP – LocoRoco. Given that I loved LocoRoco, I was keen to get through Pikuniku – and I managed it in one sitting.
In Pikuniku, you play as a red ball with legs, awakening inside a cave that had been sealed off a long time ago by the citizens of the overworld. You awaken, greeted by a friendly ghost, guided out of the cave and … immediately get into trouble with the people of the nearest village, who are terrified of you – a small red dot they’ve dubbed “The Beast”. Only, after five minutes, they quickly realise that not only are you not the beast they’ve built up in their folklore, you’re actually a friendly chap.
This sets Pikuniku up as being somewhat quirky, and with every interaction you have with the people around the world further consolidates this notion. Everyone is so pleasant, and yet, they are also so bizarre at the same time. You’ll end up talking to some of the funniest characters I’ve met in a game, despite many of them not having very many lines at all. They’re all so unique, friendly and chirpy, and it’s lovely having so many happy go lucky characters around.
To complement all of the cheery chappies dotted around the Pikuniku world, you have some bright, vibrant graphics that aren’t super detailed nor realistic, but incredible in their own right. They’re wonderfully drawn, cartoony and overwhelmingly pleasant, that it is impossible to not love the game. The diversity of the characters around is what impresses me most. There are a lot of similar ones, but the variety from town to town is just incredible as they seem to get cuter and cuter.
The mechanics in Pikuniku are pretty basic, but they work out really well to give you a challenge experience, and one where you have to try to utilise each of your talents as best you can, without it ever soft locking you. Your character can jump, kick and use objects in his inventory (as well as equip some adorable and multi-functional hats), and you need to use all of these to beat the puzzles that are in store around the world. None of them are too overwhelming, but some – the boss battles especially – can be a challenge, and one that sets your heart racing at times.
Are there negatives to Pikuniku? Not really. I know I’m supposed to try to give a balanced reflection of the game, but I can’t really see anything bad with this game, beyond the fact that I wanted to play more. You get around five to seven hours of gameplay out of it, and for a game that costs £11, that’s pretty fair. You can definitely replay it as well, and try to beat your score at the end (which I still haven’t actually worked out), or even play it co op with a friend. It’s so impeccably made that it is a challenge to come up with anything not to love about it.
The Final Word
Throughout my time playing Pikuniku, I think I sent around ten or fifteen messages to various people in my contacts list saying that how thoroughly incredible the game was. I can’t recommend the game highly enough. It’s such a refreshing game, as instead of the usual doom and gloom we’re treated to these days with games that have highly realistic, gritty storylines, this one is uplifting, colourful and heart warming. If you own a Switch, you owe it to yourself to get Pikuniku.