[Review] Mekorama — Nintendo Switch

Written by Mel Curtis
  • Developer: Martin Magni, Ratalaika Games
  • Publisher:  Rainy Frog
  • Release date: 26/3/2020
  • Price: £4.49 / $4.99
  • Review code provided by Rainy Frog

Introducing: Mekorama Switch Review

I am pretty sure at this point that if you have read some of my prior reviews, it will become clear that I am quite fond of puzzle games. While they might not always be my favorite games of any respective year, they are ones that I am always happy to return to in my downtime or when I need a break from other games. Puzzle game breaks were what got me through some game slogs here and there, and I was happy to give Mekorama a shot to see if it could be another one of those sunny spots for me.

Pure Simplicity

Mekorama is simple. That isn’t really a bad thing, though. Simplicity and understandability are key when it comes to level-based puzzle games like this. Your only goal is to guide the little robot with a huge eye to the end goal and leave the level. There’s really not a focus on collectibles or unlocking things and the game doesn’t have a big story. It’s just a cheery little game where you help a robot named B. Like I said, that’s not a bad thing. The simplicity made it easily understandable and I never really needed too much explanation. The way that everything functioned was clear from the outset.

Playing Against the Big Boys

One of the times he ended up outside the level

On the surface the game resembles Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, with the 3D levels that rotate and a protagonist that is unable to jump. The similarities really stop there, though, since Mekorama has a much more simple presentation. Every object fits within a grid of blocks for layouts that are simple and clean. Beyond that, each level is built from the same basic parts. There are not any deep or broad themes for the levels, which leads to these games having a very different vibe for me. If you do like Captain Toad, this might be a nice holdover for you, but if you are looking for the cutesy style of that game, you won’t find it here.

That’s not to say that B isn’t cute! He absolutely is. It’s just in a very different way from your typical Nintendo fare. The way B is animated, he kind of bumbles around and stumbles without ever falling down. It’s a very endearing touch that I feel made me connect more with him than I would have if he were just moving normally. This, combined with the soft plinking of the game’s music, made me feel like I was shepherding a small child rather than a robot at times. Perhaps the moment that made me smile the most was when I accidentally used the physics of the game and some turning pieces to dump B out of the level. He stood and stared at the level in the same way that I stare at objects that drop. What I am really trying to say is that B is my new son and I will have no bad words spoken about him.

My Disappointments

Where Mekorama starts to fall down for me, however, has to do with the controls. This is game that was designed for touchscreens first, and it shows. You move a little circle around and hold down or press A to perform actions that are like tapping and swiping on a touchscreen, actions that you can perform with the touchscreen of the Switch. When playing with a controller, this felt really slow and frustrating, to the point where I ended up playing this game almost entirely in handheld mode and just tapping the screen with my fingers. Normally I am happy to see touchscreen integration in smaller titles, but not when I am essentially railroaded into it for an enjoyable experience.

There were also points when I was playing a puzzle that something looked like it should be able to be dragged in a certain way, simply didn’t function in the way that it appeared to. Seeing this once sparingly wasn’t bad, but when it meant that the solution became obtuse… let’s just say there are some puzzles that I still have to go back to and figure out. This isn’t a recurring problem for the most part, but in a game that’s normally so straightforward, these stood out like a sore thumb. 

The final issue I have is when it comes to progression. There are one hundred levels in Mekorama divided into four sections based on difficulty. This works out perfectly well to allow you to jump in wherever you would feel comfortable. Well, at least it does, if someone has already finished the game before you. Mekorama does not allow you to start a section until you have finished enough of the section that came before it. For my part, I felt ready to move onto the second level of difficulty after a handful of puzzles in the first, but was forced to slog through puzzles that didn’t challenge me as much as I would like until the game decided I was ready.

C-c-c-changes

Now, given this game initially came out in 2016, it’s no surprise that it might have some differences from other versions that are out there. One of the biggest changes is that there is an increased number of levels. If I understand correctly, previous editions had around fifty puzzles while this edition touts one hundred. This seems wonderful on the surface, but is due to the fact that this edition cuts you off from the game’s still active community. 

Mekorama has a level builder that lets you build your own puzzles, and in some other versions, you would be able to share your levels and download the levels of others through the use of QR codes. The Switch version seems to have removed that functionality. Once I found out about this I searched for if there was some other way to share them, but I didn’t have any luck. It’s a shame too, because I won’t be able to pick up the levels of others unless I build them from images. The editor is robust and while I am not very inclined towards creating levels, I can see where someone with the passion to do so would find a lot of utility in Mekorama’s mechanics.

Ambling Robot

Mekorama is a fun experience that I just think didn’t translate very well to the Switch. If you just want to play the levels included and not bother with any of the creative aspects, then this might work out just fine for you. If you’re looking to engage in a community of puzzle creators, you would be better off looking at a different edition.

Pros

  • My adorable son B
  • Clever puzzle design
  • Simple and clean design

Cons

  • No ability to share or receive levels
  • Playing anything but touchscreen feels sluggish
  • Stilted progression can be frustrating for skilled puzzle gamers

Verdict

A perfectly serviceable puzzle game with a Switch port that may not be best for all players.

3/5

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