Summer Catchers

Summer Catchers is a side-scrolling pixel-art vehicular kind-of-endless-runner game that landed on Nintendo Switch about a week ago (with Noodlecake as publisher). Produced by Mikola Zadvorniy out of the Ukraine, the game originally released on Steam back in 2019, and it came to iOS and Android in early 2020. I missed out on previous releases, but I decided to check out Summer Catchers now that it’s on Switch.

The game’s most notable feature is the aesthetic. It has a very pretty 2D pixel-art style with fantastic looking creatures and smooth animations. While driving, the environment reacts in small ways — ice blocks will shatter or frogs will defrost. There’s one unskippable cutscene that’s particularly memorable, where you just watch a giant pink whale leap in the background, and it’s beautiful.

Summer Catchers

The main story follows a girl named Chu, who wakes up in a snowdrift and realizes she has never seen summer. So she sets off on a quest to see what this summer thing is all about.

The gameplay loop is simple: You start in a small hub with a shop, mailbox, repair station, a town creature, and a job board. You acquire a kart, with which you’ll attempt to drive to summer. Along the way, you collect mushrooms and avoid obstacles while trying to finish quests. The quests are cute — they’ll have you doing activities such as defrosting frogs, feeding carrots to deer, and waking up bears with gongs. However, as adorable as they may be, they tend to get tiring quickly.

Whenever you take too much damage, you’ll be sent back to the hub to spend mushrooms on ability boosts for your vehicle, such as a propeller, jump ability, shield, etc. You can also purchase cosmetic options for your vehicles and character.

Summer Catchers

After completing enough of the jobs that are assigned by the town creature, you’ll have a boss battle, which essentially boils down to avoiding two or three different attacks, or outrunning the creature to the next area. This is where the game really shines. The boss battles are silly and absurd — in one, you’ll fight a crow because it just decides to not like you anymore, and in another you’re chased by a bear on a bulldozer because you woke it up too early. Each one is unique and takes a bit of time to master.

Completing a boss battle allows you to travel to the next area. Each area has a different theme, such as winter, desert, and spring. Unfortunately, the obstacles you face don’t really change beyond cosmetics. For example, the pits you need to jump over are ice shards in winter, thorn bushes in spring, and rock spikes in the desert, but all of them are fundamentally the same thing with a different look.

The music is very good — when you can hear it. There’s an 8-bit soundtrack that’s accompanied by real instruments, which is dynamic and fitting with the game’s aesthetic. Sometimes it can be upbeat and jammy, and at other times it can be almost celestial. The instrumentation is clear and you can hear each part individually, but there are places where it just cuts out or gets ultra-quiet for no reason. I noticed that in several sections — like when visiting the hub, receiving the bubble upgrade, or viewing one of the game’s unskippable cutscenes — the music either just drops out or gets so quiet you cant hear it.

Summer Catchers

The dialogue is very janky. Its childish and sort of confusing at times, and it reads like basic phrases that were run through an 88% functioning translator. I think Summer Catchers could have used some extra help with translation — I find myself getting lost in the story, even though it’s pretty basic.

Summer Catchers is not a bad game by any stretch. In it’s current state, I think the issues with music and translation bother me a bit too much. The game is beautiful, although repetitive. It’s a game where you’ll be mindlessly grinding for an hour or two between maybe five minutes of really cool content (like the aforementioned whale scene or the boss fights).

The game’s current price on both the Nintendo eShop and the Steam store is $11.99, which is a bit more than I’d be willing to put toward this. While I appreciate what Summer Chasers is trying to do, it has some flaws that irked me, and the parts I enjoyed weren’t substantial enough to make up for the parts I didn’t.

Disclaimer: Half-Glass Gaming was given a free download code for Summer Catchers on Nintendo Switch.

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