Developer: Spaceboy Games
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Platformer, Adventure & Arcade
Release Date: August 23, 2018 (EU & NA)
HackyZack originally began as a small side project for creator Zack Bell. It was a game he created in which he could take a break from other projects and spiral creativity into. On the basis is a simple platformer, with the main objective being to essentially get the ball into the goal.
However, the game builds off of this premise into a unique platformer formed around skill-based jumps and accuracy. The game starts very simply, with levels being flat where the goal is easy to hit. A game like this does not need a story, but having one at all would have been a welcome addition.
Across 100+ levels, players will find themselves bouncing off of walls and avoiding a variety of different obstacles just to reach the goal. Each level has a special sticker to hit, which can unlock levels in the target mode. The player takes control of Zack or Mym, with the game blossoming with creativity.
The game may seem cute on the outside due to its pixel-graphic aesthetic, but completing the game and collecting the 55 stickers is near impossible at times. Stickers are placed all over the levels, where quick fingers and intelligence are needed to complete each level while grabbing the sticker. Stickers might be on top of the levels, under the levels, in hard to reach places, and much more. Collecting them all is no easy feat.
Juggling balls has never been this interesting, as no two levels are identical to one another. Levels have multiple obstacles scattered across them, with landscapes varying on the level. These can be fire pits, buttons, moving platforms, walls, and so much more. Timed button presses are needed to get the ball into the goal with quickness playing a main factor in the game.
This is precision platforming at its finest. To accompany the main campaign is a target mode, which has players racing against the timer to destroy targets as fast as possible. As mentioned previously, levels in the target mode will unlock as stickers are collected. The level in which a sticker is obtained will correlate to which level is unlocked in the target mode.
Exclusive to the Nintendo Switch version of HackyZack is support for two-player co-op. Players can split the Joy-Con at any time and jump into levels with a friend nearby. Each level works with two players simultaneously, even while in target mode. This helps make levels a bit simpler, but the challenge still remains. Chaotic scenes can spew will trying to get the ball to the goal, so it’s best to play with someone that won’t drop the ball three inches from the goal down to its doom. Just a quick warning.
Players can fall to their doom while in co-op and will not respawn until the level is over, which gives the other player full control of that level until it is completed. This seemed to be an odd choice, but it made sense given that it is meant to be challenging.
The difficulty will quickly spike once the basics are laid down, which gives the game further longevity. Players can double jump and kick the ball, with a little indicator surrounding the ball, which will indicate the direction of the ball. These are the only controls that the game presents the player with, which are easy to learn yet hard to master.
HackyZack fails to present itself with any tutorial, which adds to the frustration of going through levels. Several levels require rapid and precise button presses, which are quite difficult to do without any instruction.
Levels are much better enjoyed with another player, as a good bunch of levels were fairly difficult on their own. Having another player isn’t necessary for completion or for complete enjoyment, but there was certainly more fun to be had with someone tagging along. Besides the main mode, the game is light on content. The target mode becomes repetitive and stickers are hard enough to get in the first place.
Also, once the six worlds are completed, there is no reason to return to the levels for any reason besides attempting to obtain the stickers. Replayability is fairly low due to the game following the formula of repeating levels until it is easy to figure out how to complete it. This is a common formula for platformers, but it really does hurt what the game has to offer.
For what it offers, HackyZack is a decent experience at its current price point. With a large variety of indies hitting the Switch daily, this game will definitely get lost in the shuffle. It fails to bring something truly innovative to the platforming genre, and there are plenty of higher quality games of this genre already on the eShop. At $9.99 it’s a fun little title for those that quickly want to get through the game and test their skills with sticker collecting, but there are much better platformers already available on Switch.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by Digerati Distribution
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This post was written by Ali@Nintendo