Astro Bears Party is a party style game for the Nintendo Switch. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s simple to pick up and play – wherever you are, and whoever you’re with. That’s because while Astro Bears Party is focused on the multiplayer, it’s also a solid single player distraction… especially if you’re getting your ass kicked by your friends.
A game that has you controlling one of four space-suit donning bears on a small planetary body, Astro Bears Party is all about two things in its single player mode; not touching your own ribbon trail (which will end the round), and catching the Jetfish. If you can do those two things – using your recharging jetpack to hover (A), and your boost (B) to catch those fish – then you’ll be stacking up points and combos in no time.
As you progress through the game, you’ll move through different levels that up the difficulty a bit by kicking up the speed and number of Jetfish to collect. It becomes fairly quick by level three, but if you’re smart and quick you can keep it going. While this single player experience is great way to practice however, and very accessible to kill some time when you’re alone, it’s the multiplayer experience that you’ll really want to focus on.
Two, three, and four player party matches remove the Jetfish as your goal. Instead, you’ll find yourself trying to stay alive the longest while also having to dodge whoever else’s ribbon has been lain out. Each time you touch a ribbon you’ll give four points to your opponent – with 20, 40, and 80 points being the maximum points to win a game (depending on your settings). You can also play on small, normal, or big sized planet if you wish; another way to change up the length and difficulty of the round.
I spent most of my time in multiplayer playing with another person on the 40 point and big planet options, and it seems that our rounds took between four and six minutes to play each. Along the way however, there was lots of shouting, teasing, laughing, and swearing; a sure sign of a good time (haha). At the end of the games I would ask my thoroughly defeated second player whether or not they wanted to go again however, and they always said yes. That in and of itself is a testament to how fun it can be – even when you’re losing.
That said, a missed opportunity presents itself when you consider how Astro Bears Party would also be fun online. While it may not have been as much of a shared experience, it would definitely owe to the game’s competitive nature – and is something I would have liked as an additional option when nobody else was physically around. Even an online leaderboard would owe to single player replayability, but once again nothing. It’s at least a little frustrating, but it didn’t ruin what was there by not being available. It would just be nice to have, you know?
Past the gameplay itself, Astro Bears Party is certainly not the prettiest game. It is however very smooth to play, and very functional. Being able to see your opponent’s ribbon at all times and being able to discern its borders clearly is important when you’re trying to play at a high level, and because of the simplistic styling for things other than your bear that’s very much possible here. With these kinds of games I’d much rather functionality over effects, and in that it delivers.
Audio-wise, the game is a bit repetitive in its music. That said, the repetition is such that it really does seem like background, and I didn’t find myself bothered by it. Those who are can turn it off via the main menu (just like the other sounds or the well utilized HD Rumble), but I didn’t feel the need even once.
Aside from the music track however, sounds are simple but effective. jumping, running into a ribbon, hovering with your jetpack, or catching a Jetfish (in single player) all have their own sound effects that are instantly recognizable. Most of them work towards the cute-and-not-intrusive style that the game has, and in that respect I found them quite well done.
Also very well done is Astro Bears Party. It’s a game with a limited amount of content, but which also packs a lot of fun – especially with others. While single player is great for practice and a bit of time-wasting, multiplayer is all about competition and the shared experience. In that, Astro Bears Party has succeeded at being an enjoyable experience, and I’m sure I’ll find myself revisiting it with friends quite a bit.