Reviewed by Thomas
- Developer: Tarsier Studios
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: 08/11/2019
- Price: $19.99 / £17.99
- Review code provided by Nintendo
The Stretchers came out of nowhere when it stealth launched earlier this month. Published by Nintendo and developed by Swedish indie team, Tarsier Studios of Little Nightmares fame, it’s certainly a unique experience. The bright colors and wacky premise made it a great game to jump into with the family.
Ready, Set, Spin!
A small island town has been taken hostage by Captain Brains! Captain Brains is relentless in his pursuit to dizzy the unfortunate residents. Powerless to stop him the, dizzied folk simply yield to his antics. Luckily a plucky pair of medics are impervious to his dizzying invention and with the help of an old quack, they endeavor to set things right.
That’s Gonna Leave a Mark
Though The Stretchers can be played solo, handing your spare joycon to a buddy is the best way to experience this silly puzzler. You’ll need to work together to suss out the bizarre levels and the absurd way the locals have found themselves stuck. The screen is fixed on both medics so if you stray too far apart it becomes harder to see. Most levels require you stay near another so it typically isn’t a problem. If you’re careful you can split to save time.
The main objective is to find six souls who have been subjected to the dizzying effects of Captain Brains and get them into your ambulance. Sounds easy enough. The levels were fun and the most challenging aspect is getting your partner player to read your mind. Communication is key to avoiding painful rake slaps, slipping up in sprinklers, or being toppled by charging pigs. More often than not, one player will go one direction while you go the opposite way. When you’re sharing the load on either end of a stretcher, that conflict can lead to some humorous or frustrating results. A lot depends on how long you’ve been attempting any given task.
Rescuing woozy victims is only one aspect of The Stretchers. Most of our time was spent swerving up and down the roads, rocks and rooftops of the island to smash mailboxes, careen into billboards and search for new hats. Outside of the rescue missions is a world to explore. The developers even designed the driving with two players in mind. While one controls the ambulance, the other can add a jolt of nitro to boost things a bit or spread wings to help you soar.
Hold On Tight!
Every aspect of The Stretchers is bizarre! My family and I loved every minute of it. The art style is silly and colorful. The character names are creatively concocted. Like Hayden Seeks who plays hide-and-seek with the medics. Or Tim Burr, the lumberjack. Even the overly simplistic name like Professor Doctor made us laugh. The music is on point with the chaotic antics and wackiness. The Stretchers is presented in an odd package with every bow tied nicely together.
You Don’t Say?
Where The Stretchers does call for a little first aid is with the controller syncing process. We wasted several minutes prior to our de-dizzling marathons trying to get the controllers to cooperate. The loading screens also seemed to take their time, as though the medics were getting their coffee and didn’t want to clock-in until they were good and ready. Ultimately minor issues but noticeable. Solo play is manageable but hardly worth it. This is definitely designed for two. Not just for simplified controls, but the shared laughs. Likewise, handheld mode just didn’t appeal to us. Broadcasting this on the large television for the whole family was a highlight.
The Stretchers is another great game in the lineup of Switch titles geared at resuscitating couch co-op. The game itself is short but there’s a lot to explore aside from the campaign levels. Unlocking stickers by completing specific feats became an obsession. Plus, any level you missed something can be replayed. For the price point it’s a worthy title to own if you like playing with someone at your side.
- Side splitting co-op goodness
- Unique gameplay
- Creatively catered
- Not ideal for solo play
It’s not a stretch to say The Stretchers is the most creatively bizarre couch co-op puzzler on the Nintendo Switch today.