- Developer: Salt Castle Studio
- Publisher: Salt Castle Studio
- Release date: 31/3/2020
- Price: £12.99 / $14.99
- Review code provided by Salt Castle Studio
Introducting: Chapeau Nintendo Switch Review
There’s not a whole lot of things that I like more on the Switch than a good couch co-op game. The fact that the Switch is practically built for them, with the ability for one controller to become two using the joy-cons, has meant that we have gotten a lot of good co-op offerings in the last few years. Sometimes, though, I don’t want to get along with the people that I am playing with. Sometimes I want the game take a more aggressive turn as we compete instead of co-operate. That was what made me turn to Chapeau.
Chapeau isn’t really one of those games that needs a story, though the concept does warrant at least a moment of explanation. There’s no story mode to speak of, so there’s no need to fuss over the details of why this is happening. You’re a hat, plain and simple. Where things get interesting is that you’re a hat that is somehow able jump and dash, which turns you into a parkour hat. Your job is to see to whatever goal is set forth in the particular mode that you are playing by jumping off the ground, the floor, and even the heads of the oblivious humans around you.
Page Boy Cap
Chapeau is meant to be a pretty fast-paced game, but you’re only going to reach high speeds and impressive heights if you’ve got a good sense of the game’s controls. This is where the game is going to trip up a lot of people. See, you move with the left stick and look around with the right, but since you need to be able to jump, dash, and flip as well, those are going to be handled mostly by using the triggers. It’s a slightly unconventional control scheme, so it’s going to take some getting used to, but that also means it might be harder for members of your family who don’t usually play a lot of games in the first place to pick up on.
The control issues get messier when you get into multiplayer. If everyone has a pair of joy-cons or a pro controller, Chapeu functions basically the same, but if you’re going to the tried and true single joy-con for everyone route, it’s a little more complicated. Since you’re brought down to only one stick, there has to be a way to handle some of the functions, so you’re going to be flicking and twisting the joy-con around a lot. I personally found this control method to be more frustrating, and as a result, stuck to using two joy-cons for my entire time trying out everything the game had to offer.
That being said, once you manage to get a handle on the controls, the gameplay is a lot of fun and can get to a relatively good pace. While the game is intended to be played multiplayer, the option to play against computer-controlled players is always there, so there’s nothing to stop you from playing. I personally didn’t find playing against a computer as much fun as playing against another person, though.
Chapeau does bless us with a variety of ways to take part in the game. There’s a handful of standard modes that are meant to be played with others, all with their own unique setups. “The Floor is Lava” is pretty much what it sounds like. The main goal is to collect coins from humans or steal them from other players, which is chaotic enough in itself, but the addition of an ever-raising floor of lava gives an extra twist that makes things even more frantic. “Where’s Wilhem?” is a searching mode where you have to find a specific human and claim their head as your own. This one is points-based, and the name of the game is speed. Finally, “Color Craze” sees you running around and changing humans to your team’s color in order to gain coins. I found this one fun to be played in teams or on your own. Each of these allows a customizable time limit to adjust the feel of the game, which is always a nice touch.
Beyond this, there is also a challenge mode that has different takes on the modes. I found this the more interesting place to spend my time when I was playing on my own. There’s also an achievements list to run through that has all the fun of challenging yourself that you would want. Unlockables are tied to the achievements rather than something like playtime, so it might taunt you a little bit, but also provides a consistent stream of rewards when you manage to overcome one.
Chapeau is one of those games that’s going for simplicity and charm when it comes to its look, and that really worked out in its favor. It’s pretty easy to tell what everything is and while the hat you choose does have some game play purpose (weight determining how floaty your jumping is), the variety that are available and the ability to choose the color of each had gives that same excitement of choosing the costume of your Smash character. Even before your start unlocking some of the more out -there stages like the moon base, the stages are all colorful and bright with distinctive looks and layouts that bring needed variety.
It’s not perfect, though. The music isn’t anything to write home about. It’s not bad, but it didn’t have me dancing in my seat, either. The other problem is that when you’re playing single player handheld, the un-docked look is perfectly fine, but playing anything more than two players un-docked feels a little cramped. I don’t blame the devs for this, though, since this is something that is a result of the Switch screen size rather than the game itself.
Overall, I think that Chapeau makes a pretty good addition to the competitive co-op lineup on the switch, but I wouldn’t call it my favourite. Unfortunately, that mostly comes down to the controls since they’re a bit hard to get a handle on, and could lead to some frustration with certain players if you don’t have an abundance of controllers. The lack of online multiplayer is a bit of a miss as well, but not enough to be deal-breaking since this game is pretty niche, and I wouldn’t expect it to have a huge online community.
- Frantic and fast-paced gameplay
- Colorful and cute design
- Variety of hat styles and colors
- Controls are hard to get an initial feel for
- May be difficult to introduce to those who don’t play a lot of games
A fun, competitive co-op experience that is held back by a handful of frustrations.