Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Arcade, Racing, Party & Action
Release Date: May 14, 2018 (EU) / May 15, 2018 (NA)
“They see me rollin’, bouncin’, platformin’, dashin, dyin’.”
Never Stop has had previous releases as a mobile game on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Its gameplay elements remain basically the same with new control schemes and more expansive multiplayer for Switch, as well as other console and PC/Mac releases this year. As for the story, you are a ball that rolls downhill, bouncing and bounding through hills and shapes that try and stop you…but you’re supposed to Never Stop. Aside from that, you are never told who you are, what you are supposed to do, or why you are doing those things.
When it comes to content, Never stop is an energetic endless runner-platformer. Your main objective is to get as many points which are acquired by staying alive and Never Stopping the longest. The game itself is simple and can be controlled through a variety of methods on the Switch. You can play docked and use either the Joy-Con Grip, a single Joy-Con, or a pro controller where you will primarily use either the left analog stick or buttons to jump your ball or the single-use dash forward command. You also have the ability to play in handheld mode where you can use either the control stick or the buttons on the left Joy-Con to propel yourself up and forward.
The last way to play is unique to only a few Switch games, but comes as no surprise, as Never Watch was originally a touch screen game for mobile phones and tablets. The entire game can be played with the Switch touch screen by tapping above or to the right of the ball to move it up or dash forward, respectively. While you move downhill your ball has two circles and a dot representing one of three ‘move options’ you have while in the air. You can dash, jump, double jump; you can jump, dash, jump, or do a triple jump. The circles and dot come back each time you have landed on the ground or shape in the air allowing you to pull off some pretty sweet jump, dash, jump combos.
This is where the platforming part comes in because as you traverse the endless terrain ahead of you, you will see shapes above you that you will want to try and jump (or double or triple jump) up to giving you a sense of accomplishment when you can stay on the top section of the level versus the ‘boring’ lower hills and gaps below. The terrain and level set up are always changing and along the way, you will encounter platforms that disappear, push you upward, drop in your path, and portals that transport you to another section of the level. Never Stop moves super-fast and always seems to throw a tricky jump or block in your path just when you run out of steam for your little ball. Sometimes the jumps seem near impossible or placed in no-win situations where frustration can only be seen as your fault for not jumping with perfect rhythm and timing.
When it comes to music, Never Stop has a variety of upbeat techno tracks that match the neon 2-3 color scheme of the terrain and blocks perfectly. I never was able to notice whether or not the music was syncing with the gameplay as I rolled and dashed forward, but it seemed to be driving me to quickly hit restart and jump right back in after a short or failed run. The music really immerses you in the simple artist style of the game and was a driving force for me to keep playing even though I would have stints of failure repeatedly while only scoring 1000 or less points in a run.
As for audio, Along with the techno music your ball moves with simple swooshing sounds while dashing ahead and light blips and bloops while you jump. There are also sounds almost as if you hit your head when the ball knocks into the levels ceiling or shapes above you which only added to the humorous ways in which I would sometimes see my demise unfold.
In a world, where endless runners and run/platform games seem to be overflowing, it’s easy to dismiss the premise and gameplay loop found in Never Stop. Honesty, I would probably have overlooked the game in the eShop without giving it a thought or my time. But as I have played Never Stop for a bit more hours than I would like to admit…just trying to get that high score boosted. I would say as far as simple pick up and play, time wasters, Never Stop is certainly a fun one.
I never noticed any slow-down in the game and it seems to run at a pretty high clip. I did prefer the handheld mode to docked/TV mode simply because the game required quick speed which I could only achieve whilst playing close to the game holding it my hand. I often found myself just staring blindly and controlling the game with one hand switching between control stick and up/right button presses.
Never Stop isn’t going to break down walls or turn the randomly generated, endless runner world on its head, but it does offer enough to set itself apart as being something special and different. There aren’t any collectibles or unlockables here and aside form portals, a slow-down time bending hourglass and an eye power-up that lets you see the trajectory of your bouncing ball it’s just one long roll down a hill, never ever stopping…unless you are like me and hit the first thing that moves or gets in your way. Never Stop is a 4.99 (in the NA eShop) budget title. It’s not going to make waves or turn heads but it will suffice as a great time waster game.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by Pixelsplit
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