Clusterpuck 99 is another charming indie game that is simple to play but difficult to master. It requires the player to navigate hazardous courses using circular paddles to score goals through a vast collection of both preloaded and player made maps. The graphics are simple but offer clarity to the gameplay, whilst the grid based level design allows players to see the possibilities of the editor through playing the developer designed maps.
The gameplay itself rewards controlled movement and shot precision as players navigate through the playing field towards the opponents goal. Dashes enable quick bursts of speed for dispossession, but if they’re mistimed or completely misplaced, players are punished with the recovery time as they scramble to defend their goal. This leads to an experience that allows players to pick up the basics of the game instantly but has a skill cap that can take an era to reach as they find themselves trying to master their shot accuracy and paddle control.
The challenge mode is also pretty accurate in its description, though some of the challenges feel as frustrating as the first level of Driver. It does help you learn the mechanics of the game even though sometimes the sense of accomplishment for completing a challenge doesn’t outweigh the anger from 17 failed attempts.
Although I have been predominantly positive about the game and can appreciate the simplicity of it’s design, I kinda disliked it. I’m trying to be as objective as possible in this review as I’m the only owner of a Switch on the XNVR team so able to redeem the code.
But why do I dislike it? It feels too clinical for me. The game rewards super precise movement, and the randomness of a deflected shot doesn’t feel exciting as the speed of the game removes any sense of panic as you calmly reposition to recover; or wait unable to do anything whilst your opponent scores, leaving all your hope in the coding of your AI teammates.
I also didn’t get to play the multiplayer mode due to moving house and not owning a second controller for the local play feature; maybe with the added threat of a friend gaining bragging rights I’d have become more invested in the game.
Final thoughts? My personal opinions on the game shouldn’t detract from the credit I feel it deserves as it’s a solid multiplayer experience and if I’d played it on PC, maybe I’d have a different opinion. It’s a game that rewards skillful play but it feels as though it only rewards skillful play.
As a game you can pick up and play, it lets you have short burst of multiplayer gaming without the commitments of a competitive MOBA or FPS. I may pick it up during a gaming night with friends round or if I have 5/10 minutes on a train; but for now, I’m still going to return to Rocket League for my football derived arcade game.
- Great pick up and play nature
- Rewards skillful play
- Simple graphics that personify the gameplay
- Multiplayer aspect needed
- The game is far too clinical
- Too frustrating challenge mode