[Review] Part Time UFO – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: HAL Laboratory, Inc
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: 28/10/2020
  • Price: £8.09 / $8.99
  • Code provided by Nintendo

Introducing: Part Time UFO Switch Review

Ah, 2017. It seems so long ago right now doesn’t it? It was but three years ago when Part Time UFO made its mobile phone debut. I actually bought it at launch back then and played about half of it. I really dug it, but that was quite the busy year for me. As a result, I didn’t find myself returning to it. Fast-forward to the present, and Part-Time UFO has just been ported to the Switch, feeling every bit as new as it did back then. Now that I have finally gotten around to finishing it, was it worth the revisit?

It Came From Outer Space


It’s always fun starting off my reviews with a story synopsis, as it’s often the hardest part. And why is that? Well, in this case, it’s because it’s essentially non-existent. One day, a UFO comes out of nowhere and helps some farmer who’s having a bit of trouble. The farmer then gives him a magazine with job listings to help him for his trouble… and off you go!

I’m not sure how many story rich mobile games there are out there, but this certainly isn’t one of them, and I’m not gonna fault it for that. Upon booting it up, you’re basically instantly thrown into the meat of the game – the gameplay. However, that’s not to say there’s no story at all. In fact, every level has its own mini story, in a way.

Considering that every “level” is a job listing, just looking at the mission objective and the expression of the characters in the background is enough to tell you everything. Granted, it’s about as simple as “some woman broke a museum exhibit, quietly put it back together”. But seeing the woman smile as you slowly put it back together, or seeing a bystander try and hush you if you’re being too loud – it’s all so charming to look at.

A Delicate Balancing Act


If you haven’t heard of this game before, you might be wondering what a jobs a UFO could possibly tackle. Well, luckily the UFO in question comes equipped with a full on claw machine! The game revolves around you using said claw to stack and balance all sorts of objects as you deal with the laws of physics. Each level has different objectives and gimmicks to spice things up, but the core mechanic of grabbing something, moving it over (while praying it doesn’t violently swing into your pile of objects) and balancing it remains throughout the entire game.

Much like the story, the gameplay is incredibly basic. But as a result it’s extremely well suited for portable/mobile play. (I didn’t even dock my Switch once while playing!) It’s great to pick it up, spend a few minutes or so trying to bang out a job, then move on with your day. And beyond being widescreen (making it easier to find particular objects if they’re far from you) having an actual analog stick and buttons makes it much easier than the digital controls the mobile version used.

However, just because it’s easier to control doesn’t mean this game is a walk in the park. To unlock more jobs, you need to get at least 5 medals. Though, each level has 3 medals, and you unlock 3 levels at a time, so you will never be strapped for medals in all fairness. Combine this with the fact that you can go back to previous pages to get medals you may have missed, and, well, you can beeline through this game in a couple of hours.

Stick It To The Man


But the challenge lies in trying to get all the medals (and if you really want, achievements!) They can be as simple as completing a job without running out of time, or they can involve looking for secrets, stacking all objects instead of some, stacking things in a particular way, etc. So Part Time UFO essentially leaves you to make things as hard or as easy as you want, which I applaud. There’s even a shop you can spend your hard earned cash on to get particular costumes which make certain things easier to do.

Now, I haven’t actually mentioned whether I like the gameplay or not. And honestly… I’m a bit mixed. It really is so simple, to the point where I almost feel that mobile is by far the definitive way to play. Sure, part of the fault lies with me for beating it in one sitting for this review. But even back when I played on mobile, if it truly had hooked me, I probably would have kept coming back to it. But I ended up dropping it back then. (I want to make a joke about it feeling like work, but it never gets that bad!)

I’m sure I’m making it sound identical to the mobile version, but the Switch port did add a few things. For one, there is a co-op mode, but considering the current circumstances I didn’t manage to test this out with anyone, so I can’t really comment on that. But they also added in some new challenges, such as a mode where you can infinitely stack things up (if you’re a God at the game…), and a small little dungeon after you beat the game. Apart from maybe the co-op mode though, these modes aren’t exactly game changers.

Undiluted Joy


I may be coming off as a tad negative, but if there’s one thing I can list nothing but positives about, it’s the presentation. From the simple yet oddly detailed animations, the cute pixel art, and the vibrant colour pallet, this game is a joy to look at. And if you decide to share a screenshot at the end of a level, you get treated to a neat picture, which I honestly think is a crime for being hidden behind the share function.

The music also retains the charm. You absolutely should not be expecting any head-banger tunes, but the same endearing melody is used for most of the levels, each with their own flair. And when it comes to the technical side of things, Part TIme UFO is essentially flawless… which is what I’d hope considering it’s so simple, but I still have to praise it.

Not a single glitch nor dip in framerate was observed in my playthrough, letting you focus entirely on every other aspect. Honestly, the one word that comes to my mind when it comes to the both the presentation and the game in general is ‘joy’. It feels like distilled joy, in video game form.

Conclusion


So, I’m mixed on this. On one hand, how can I fault such an unadulterated experience as this? It’s a fantastic game to play for half an hour or so while you forget all of your worries. On the other hand, the gameplay really is extraordinarily basic. It may have worked on mobile, but when you’re paying over twice the amount for two extra challenges and a co-op mode, it’s hard to recommend.

I don’t regret my purchase on mobile, though this is certainly not a game you should double dip for. But it’s not trying to be a game like that. If you haven’t played it before, and just need a short, cute, and cheery game to play right now, you really can’t go wrong with Part Time UFO.

Pros

  • Insanely charming
  • A perfect pick-up-and-play game
  • Challenges, new modes and co-op add extra replayability

Cons

  • Extremely simple gameplay
  • The new content doesn’t justify the higher price

Verdict
Part Time UFO is as simple as it is charming, making for both a repetitive yet joyous experience.

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