Lunch A Palooza Review

As the latest entry into the burgeoning wacky physics, local multiplayer genre, Lunch A Palooza has some pretty stiff competition. A staple of the genre is the over the top, unpredictable action that combines with pure luck to create moments of genuine hilarity and last ditch wins; the amount of literal by-the-tp-of-my-fingers wins in Gang Beasts attests to that. Unfortunately, Lunch A Palooza takes the unpredictability to a new level, and results in a game that not only isn’t that much fun, but outright annoying to play a times.

We start off well enough though. There’s a great style to things, with bold colours and designs that catch the eye. As the title may imply, it’s all themed around food and restaurants. The characters we get to play as are various elements of meals, such as a burger or corn on the cob, while the stages are set on tables found in a eatery setting. The food has an element of Bugsnax (🎵bugsnax🎵) to it, with large, round eyes and mouths giving them character, though not quite the same charm.

Four modes of play are available, including free for all, team deathmatch, king of the hill and one that sees us spawn as a random character after each death. So far, so good. No online play is a shame, but considering how the game plays locally, that’s also understandable.

Once in game, things sadly go downhill. Each character has their own unique attacks by either tapping or holding B, and there are various items to use dotted around the tables that offer up some serious hitting power. There are no life bars here, instead the aim is to knock the other payers off of the table to score a point. The problem is that it almost feels random as to whether our attacks hit, or indeed if they hit hard enough to send the others flying.  Taking the burger as our example, their basic attack is a kind of push where they flatten themselves and anyone nearby gets hit. The charged attack meanwhile sees them jump in the air before flinging out a burger patty across the table.

But getting either of these attacks to hit anyone with any reliability is nigh-on impossible. Most of my rounds – as the burger or otherwise – were simply a case of mashing the buttons and hoping. With four characters all fighting in the fairly confined stages it’s all too easy to lose track of whats happening. The camera angle doesn’t help either. It’s set too low and makes judging our position on it under all that chaos too hard. And then, whack, we’re sent flying by some unknown attack. One life down.

The other characters don’t fare better, with the exception of the jelly; their attack is way overpowered (you can even almost tell when it hits!) and picking anyone else is an exercise in pointlessness. Even they fall victim to these issues though.

There are plenty of unlocks to aim for, from new skins to characters and stages but it’ll take some serious dedication to get there. Matches are generally pretty quick, but when some unlocks are timed (seemingly behind the single player progress too) to match how long you spend in game, this is more of a hindrance than anything.

Conclusion

I was quite looking forward to a new local multiplayer party game to add to the rotation; sadly, Lunch A Palooza won’t be filling that void. There’s a neat idea here, but the hard to decipher combat, wonky physics and general lack of, well, fun mean that we’re best off warming up some of our leftovers for now.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Nice character designs
  • Plenty to unlock…
Bad
  • …though it’s debatable whether you’ll get to it all
  • Terrible physics based combat
  • Far too hard to see what’s going on
3.9
Lousy
Gameplay - 2.5
Graphics - 5
Audio - 4
Longevity - 4
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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