Grapple Dog - Switch Review

"Paws what you're doing and play this game!"

Grapple Dog - Switch Review
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Grapple Dog is a 2D platformer with a pixel art style reminiscent of the Game Boy Advance. It's a title I've been keeping my eye on for a while now over on Twitter, watching the many posts from the developer and seeing it grow in popularity.  As the game starts off, our main character Pablo the Dog is walking with his friends near a strange looking temple, only to accidentally awaken a dark machine that is intent on destroying the world by using strange ancient artifacts. Pablo watches as the evil machine destroys the island he’s on and is then thrown off into the freezing waters below. After being rescued by his friends, he must act quickly to retrieve all of the artifacts and restore peace to the lands. With his trusty Grapple hook, Pablo must jump into action and thwart the plans of the machine that threatens his home.

The Good

At first glance, you would think that Grapple Dog is a newly created IP from Nintendo as it certainly has that Nintendo feel with polished gameplay, tight controls, a quirky soundtrack that you need to turn up on your sub-woof-ers and the warm fuzzy feeling of familiarity.

Grapple Dog screams quality from its carefully crafted stages to its subtle use of objects for traversal, such as the blue blocks that are introduced once you gain the ability to use your grapple hook. More advanced objects like the green stomp pads only work when stomped on and floating water bubbles allow you to swim in mid-air and shoot out watery orbs to move over spikes and other obstacles.  Each new mechanic is slowly introduced over the course of the six worlds, slowly ramping up the complexity. Your little furry friend can walk, dash, stomp and use his grapple hook in various different directions which is indicated by the little white arrow above his head. The grapple can attach to any blue block, allowing you to swing across gaps with ease. By adding in the dash ability and swinging on blue orbs, you can cover a lot of distance when putting these two abilities together; it comes in handy during some of the later stages and in the time-trial runs which are unlocked once you complete a stage.

You're not only trying to reach the end of each stage; there are plenty of collectibles, such as the apples that grant you two additional purple gems (more on that later) and finding the hidden gems that are pugged away in hard to reach places. These gems allow you to unlock the end level stage boss, so it’s important to try and locate as many as possible.  Finally, there’s a secret B button hidden in certain levels that will allow you to unlock special stages to test your grappling abilities and speed to the max.

Grapple Dog looks lovely with its charming aesthetic and it has a great soundtrack to boot. There’s a real incentive to collect everything as after you've completed a stage, you’ll want to return to uncover things that you might have missed on the first playthrough, extending your replayability considerably. There's even some special extra accessibility options in the menu screen, allowing even children to enjoy the game by granting the ability to jump continuously or not be hurt by any oncoming damage; this is a nice inclusion by the developer and is always welcomed. Stages offer plenty of challenges for those who seek it and that also includes the boss battles that need to be cleared to progress.


  • Charming 2D pixel art style
  • Tight responsive controls
  • Unlock speedruns after stages are completed
  • Accessibility options
  • Challenging boss battle stages
  • Lots of collectibles
  • 100% a stage get to pet Pablo on his head

The Bad

You can travel to new stages via boat and in there, you can visit and speak to a few of your friends. While there is a mini-games on the boat, there’s very little to do here with no other interactions. This makes the boat seem a little pointless to visit.

One of my biggest issues is the lack of any online leaderboards as the game would’ve benefited greatly from them, especially with speedruns being available after you’ve completed a stage. It would have been a great feature to compare your times with friends on your Friend List or share ghost data so you could race against friends that way. It’s a minor detail but I think it would have been a nice little extra feature to add in future perhaps.

The grapple, while useful, can sometimes require a lot of precision which can be annoying at times. Sometimes when you need to hit a switch or lantern that lights up the paths (that’s on a time limit) that is directly above you, it can feel a little tedious when you can't get the momentum you need to swing up and reach it. I’ve had a few instances like this that have been quite frustrating.

My final gripe is that the game, when you need to restart from a previous checkpoint, the loading times seem to go on far too long. But once again, I’d hope that this gets patched in a future update.


  • Boat feels pointless to enter
  • No online leaderboards for speed runs
  • Grappling can be frustrating sometimes
  • Long loading times

Final Score: 8/10

Grapple Dog is a really great little platformer that has a lot going for it: tight controls, interesting mechanics and tough challenges against its boss stages. The pixel art style and charming music create a world you want to get lost in. Throw in the unique grapple hook ability that allows you to pull off some daring moves and along with the speed run options which unlock after a stage is completed, the game allows for so much replayability. Grapple Dog oozes Nintendo charm and if you hadn't told me it was created by an indie developer, I would have thought it was a new IP from the Japanese juggernaut. Paws what you're doing and play this game!

Thank you for checking out our Grapple Dog Switch review, thank you to Super Rare Games for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:

For more reading, check out our review of Sword of Elpisia.