Swimsanity! is an underwater 2D side-scrolling twin-stick shooter. Play with up to four players locally or online in order to cooperate and defeat a gigantic oncoming shark or duke it out against each other to be the last Mooba standing. There are over 150 challenges across eight game modes, so let’s strap on our Power Ranger looking scuba suits and dive right in.
With the game’s smooth motions and easy to grasp mechanics, Swimsanity! is easy to pickup and play, which is perfect for a co-op party game. There is no traditional single-player mode, rather a co-op mode that can be played solo. This game’s biggest issue is that it does not scale at all, therefore you will die a lot if you’re playing by yourself. In addition, there are a lot of instances that lead to instant deaths, which just makes playing by yourself all the more infuriating. The co-op mode is severely lacking but the versus modes are where you’ll have the most fun, with deathmatch and Orb Rush modes, to name a few.
If you don’t have friends and family who are always willing to play a round or two, its saving grace is its online mode. Alas, it would have been if I could find any players. This review was delayed a few days because I had to wait until the game launched to the public in order to try out the online. However, I tried for hours and couldn’t find a single player to join me. This is very concerning considering I was trying within the first few days of the game’s launch which, presumably, would be its busiest time.
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When I was able to get a few friends together to play locally, I was relieved to find that the game was a lot more digestible with much better flow. Despite the frequent frame rate dips, having four players on the screen certainly made the levels beatable. For the sake of this review, we also had a few players using single Joy-Cons and to get around the lack of right analogue stick, the developers made the four buttons the directions to which your character would shoot. It was a great workaround and despite it certainly being a clear disadvantage (especially in Versus mode), having it there to begin with was a nice touch of inclusivity.
The levels are nothing fancy and will either have you swimming from left to right in order to avoid bosses or exploring a Donkey Kong Country-esque underwater maze. The levels aren’t procedurally-generated which acts as both a pro and a con; pro because you can learn the levels and get better with each attempt; con because this greatly limits the game’s replayability. There are experience points and unlockables, sure, but not much beyond that.
Story / Personality
There’s not much of a story here with Swimsanity!, rather it’s all about swimming left-to-right with friends and firing your way through waves of enemies. In the end, it leaves the experience lacking in progression, simply feeling as though it omits anything for the player to invest in. It’s cute, sure, but once you get past that, what else is there?
Graphics / Art Direction
Swimsanity!‘s cartoon-like graphics are bright and clean, being the game’s most redeeming aspect. It’s easy on the eyes and hazards are as plain as day. In addition, the menu screens are simply laid out, with a cut and dry outlines that makes the process easier. There’s nothing particularly exciting about it all – it just works.
Music / Sound Design
The soundtrack is another aspect where there’s just not too much to talk about. It’s serviceable, sure, but I never found myself particularly impressed with it. The music certainly appeals to the underwater theme with an emphasis of lower tones, making the sound effects stand out amongst the frantic noise.
Final Score: 58%
Water levels are renowned for being the most dreaded aspect of any game and unfortunately, this was the general consensus when myself and some friends jumped into Swimsanity!. On top of that, the lack of progression, plot depth and online participants results in an experience that didn’t reach its full potential. The bright colours and jovial personality are inviting and reminds the player that this game is supposed to be nothing but lighthearted fun and while it absolutely is, it also falls short on many other aspects that would give it legs.
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