Animal Super Squad is finally due to touch down on the Xbox One, following release on several other platforms since its initial launch. Though, is this game an experience that’s been worth the wait? Coming straight off the proverbial bat, no, not entirely. It’s a serviceable adventure game, at best. Perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s take this from the top. In a nutshell, Animal Super Squad is as simple by design as a game can get. There’s no story nor campaign whatsoever, but in its place, map creation and map sharing.
There is indeed a single-player component present, compiling pre-created maps for players to run through in return for hidden pick-ups and new characters. The game has five characters present, with the ability to unlock new cosmetic hats to wear; though none of which (quite rightly) alter the gameplay at all. Despite that, the meat of the matter here rests with the game’s community support. Starting out, Animal Super Squad feeds you into the basics of play via a short yet informative tutorial, giving you a firm grasp as to how it all functions.
Here, you take on the role of a chicken. You’ll have two modes of movement to utilize – rolling left and right, and jumping. There’s also the ability to jump into a vehicle. Throughout play, the vehicles do become more outlandish and frankly, quite crazy. Players begin with a toilet on wheels, capable of frequent boosts that will push you further, or higher, depending on where it is you need to get to. The game’s other vehicles all house their own unique traits, but simply put, they do indeed all feed into boosting you forward in one form or another.
The aim of the game is to get from one side of your map to the other, side-scrolling, either alone or/and with the use of a vehicle. There are checkpoints dotted throughout the levels in each mission, but overall, these levels are not particularly lengthy. The main attraction here is that each level is littered with dangers and hazards that require a mixture of skill, timing, and perseverance to overcome. Oftentimes, levels will branch into multiple paths, not too dissimilar to the Trials series. This is where the game’s physics-based play comes into view.
In order to succeed, you’ll need to perfect your handling and your execution. So much as light tap can wildly throw you off course at the wrong angle, making this a game that takes quite a bit of practice before you actually feel bonded to its mechanics. It pays off to venture through each level and its multiple pathways to obtain those previously alluded to extras; hats, new characters, and secret levels. The latter of which provide more of a challenge, but still follow the same concept regardless. There’s certainly some fun to be had here.
Trials is quite a fair comparison by concept alone, so if you’ve played that and found enjoyment, you’ll likely be able to pull some enjoyment from Animal Super Squad. There’s something surprisingly empowering about finally nailing that one fluid run, overcoming all the traps and devious contraptions with ease. It helps, of course, that the obstacles that lay between A to B remain quite distinct. Whether you’re facing giant fist slamming bots, clouds that unleash down-cut punches, powerful fans that push against you, or more, you’ll find a fair bit of complexity on show.
The game’s physics work well here, forcing you to consider your movement and constantly pushing you to judge your landings, at all times, regardless as to which contraption is testing your might. Like I said, so much as a flick in the wrong direction can be the difference between life and death. It’s a balancing act, a reflex test, and a measurement of your endurance, all rolled up into one. Humor can be found in the way that each animal hilariously behaves and reacts, despite the fact that they all handle the same. This helps to break up the rage you will feel.
The bottom line? Animal Super Squad has its moments. The problem, however, is that it’s repetitive. I also feel that the developer aimed too heavily at community support, rather than allowing their own creativity to shine. That’s not necessarily a bad thing by any means, but it would have been nice to see more meat elsewhere. The map creator is fairly easy to utilize and even comes with tidbits of help to get you going. The tool allows you to be as outlandish and as imaginative as you like, to which this will no doubt lead to some bizarre maps post-launch.
The creator shows you how to build and apply different aspects to your maps, teaching you the ins and outs of each component, as well as how to place traps, and so forth. It can be a bit clunky, mind. I found that I constantly had to zoom right in to line-up my objects correctly, rather than the game ‘snapping’ them into place. It’s not a game breaker, but the lack of a more refined usability experience does hurt immersion. Outside of that gripe, you can easily and swiftly duplicate and rotate items at will, giving you all that you need to create some pretty solid maps.
Once you’ve finished, you’re able to save and upload it for others to enjoy and vote upon, and you may even find your map featured in the ‘weekly hottest’ list if it gains enough traction. With that out of the way, there’s really nothing else to get stuck into here. You’ll log on, enjoy a few rounds of its single-player component, mess about with its online maps, log off, and that’s that. The whole thing feels too isolated for its own good. So much so that I spent more time pondering why there wasn’t more to it, than anything else. Make of that what you will.
In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, Animal Super Squad is passable. The soundtrack is simple and catchy, but stretches itself too thin for a game that wants you to play it for hours on end. The visuals, although diverse and vibrant, lack the detail that you would expect to see from a game of this type. This pretty much sums up the game well. It’s not going to blow your socks off, and I daresay many will forget about it in the face of the soon to release Trials Rising, but on the whole, it achieves what little it set out to accomplish. Nothing more, nothing less.
Whilst the depth and diversity of its content will be bolstered through post-launch community contribution, Animal Super Squad, at its core, feels far too bare for its own good. There’s nothing particularly wrong with its physics-based gameplay, and there’s certainly some fun to be had throughout. However, the big drawback here is that it’s just not exciting enough nor interesting enough to maintain traction in the long run.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.