[Review] Heave Ho – Nintendo Switch

Written by slimwiggins

Reviewed by Thomas

  • Developer: Le Cartel Studio
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Release Date: 29/08/2019
  • Price: $9.99 / £8.99
  • Review code provided by Devolver Digital

Intro

Remember those good old fashioned games at the playground? During the early years of school? Duck-duck-goose, tag, red rover? I still remember linking arms and tossing one of your mates to the other line once they were summoned. Red rover, red rover, send Thomas on over. The excitement almost too much when your own name is called out. The tips of your toes dig into the ground and you run with all your might to break the human chain, bound by linked arms, on the other side. Only to get clotheslined and knocked on your butt. Those were the good old days. That’s how I felt when playing Heave Ho with my children and a group of their friends. Take a look at the review to see if you should call out: Red rover, red rover, send Heave Ho on over.

Nobody Tosses a Dwarf

Though Heave Ho can be played solo, the true joy is in its cooperation mode. During co-op play, two to four players have a common goal to make it to the finish line. Admittedly it’s not the same objective shared in red rover. The only similarity is in linking arms to create as long a chain as possible and to try and throw your pal to a nearby object so they can grab hold. Using the circle pad to help shift your weight and the right and left bumper to hold, the controls are deceptively simple. Each bumper corresponds with your character’s hand and you use it to hold objects, hands or even your friends by the head. Hey, wouldn’t you want someone to hold you by the hair as you dangle precariously over a cliff rather than be dropped to your doom?

Heave Ho sounds easy but the challenge is in team work and not mixing up which hand is holding onto something or someone. More often than not, the player holding onto the cliff and supporting everyone else will accidentally let go. With no lifeline, everyone plummets offscreen and their monochromatic guts are sprayed all over the board. There’s not a game over screen. Instead, each player is dropped one by one to the starting location for another attempt. And another, and another.

Some levels we could clear in less than thirty seconds while others took more than fifteen minutes. At first these boards are hilarious as characters fly all over the screen and birds target you with their droppings. The one issue with the game is also what makes it so fun. Watching players drop like flies is laughable until you’re ten minutes in and can’t accomplish a simple chain. Heave Ho is great in short spurts. Longer play sessions grew tedious if not downright frustrating. Having multiple players on hand to rotate helped alleviate some tension.

In Heave Ho you’ll find unique landscapes and quirky animals. Whether they douse you with their droppings or choke you with their gas, the kids will enjoy the shenanigans. Solo play is still engaging and somewhat easier. It was fun to sleuth out different paths to some of the finish lines without relying on a buddy to toss you to a floating block. Minigames appear for a limited time if you could reach them on the map. Doing well in the dance of mimic mini game or by nabbing a coin on the level and toting it to the goal would earn additional costumes. Trying to reach the mini game rope or loot the coins made the levels replayable. 

Throw Caution to the Wind

The music and sound effects were bizarre. Which fit perfectly with the off the wall gameplay. The silly graphics and costumes provide enough customization to please each player. Simple colors adorn the background. When a player falls and splatters the screen it creates additional confusion because you may all look alike. There is an option to wear boxing gloves on your hands labeled R and L. The right handed glove is blue and the left is red. This makes things a lot easier when trying to work as a team so you know which button you can let go of and which one is tethered to your friend.

We didn’t run into any technical issues. Heave Ho played best on a large television so everyone could clearly see what was going on. That’s not to say you can’t play in tabletop mode. Our time undocked was just as fun and stressful. The laughs were the same and the challenge was a little greater. I did notice that my wrists would get sore and cramped during solo play in handheld mode. Holding on to dear life while traversing a canyon filled with geometric shapes is serious business after all.

Final Wrap

Orange Knight gives Heave Ho 2 thumbs up

Heave Ho makes a great party game. It’s challenging and hilarious. Some levels have a tendency to grow tiresome when teamwork constantly fails. This quirky and unique title takes advantage of the Nintendo Switch. It’s one worth owning on the console for group game nights alone.

Pros

  • Handfuls of Hilarity
  • Gripping Group Gameplay
  • Colorful Cast

Cons

  • Long Sessions Let Go

Verdict
Heave Ho is a zany title you don’t want slipping through your grasp.
4/5

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