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Posted by GG Goblin On February - 5 - 2019

Add some joy to your gaming.

Joy. Most gamers experience happiness from playing video games. Sure, they may also experience excitement, empowerment, fear and occasionally frustration. But without the happiness, what would be the point? Despite this abundance of happiness caused by video games, there are very few games that actually give a feeling of pure, unadulterated joy. Usually bright, colourful and cheerful to a fault, joy-inspiring games are certainly not for everyone, the serious gamer need not apply. But for those who are willing to let some joy into their lives, there really is nothing better. With an ear to ear grin on my face, it’s time to talk about Sectordub and Devolver Digital’s Pikuniku on Switch.

piku1 (Copy)

The first requirement for a joyful game is a strange sounding name, and Pikuniku certainly scores marks there. Long time joy hunters will remember Loco Roco, and there is something about Pikuniku that will spark Loco Roco memories, despite the games being quite different.

Pikuniku is a 2D exploration platformer in which the player takes on the role of Piku, a red, ball-shaped creature with two legs and two eyes. There is an entire silliness to the setting and the ongoing story which involves the evils of capitalism, among other things. However, such a plot is for later in the game, as to begin with Piku is left, just like the player, wondering what the hell is going on.

Set on a bright and colourful island, the player will have to guide Piku around and talk to the locals, all of which are just as strange as Piku. These locals will give Piku tasks to complete, offering rewards or simply the ability to proceed in the game. Players will find themselves doing a lot of wandering, especially as it is not always apparent what the player needs to do or what they need to interact with to continue. However, trying everything will rarely leave the player wandering for too long without something happening.

piku2 (Copy)

Of course, the limitations of Piku’s form do mean that there is only so much that Piku can actually do. There are no arms after all, which means that Piku is limited to pulling in his legs and rolling around like a ball, jumping and kicking stuff. There is the chance to interact with certain items on the screen, and the majority of the puzzle solving will come from using these different abilities. There are plenty of other little quirks, such as being able to swing using his legs, or some very interesting fashion items, that keep the player guessing. However, much of the fun here is from discovering these different ways to interact with the world, so I won’t spoil the surprise.

The platforming is far from precise in Pikuniku, and often feels plain out of control. I guess there is only so much control when you are shaped like a ball with no arms. The jumping is floaty and trying to land with any form of grace is almost impossible. However, this doesn’t present too much of a problem in the main game as the platforming is much more lenient than most games. Pikuniku also includes a co-op mode in which a second player takes control of Niku, Piku’s yellow coloured buddy. There are not many levels in this mode, but they are great fun to play with a friend. Be aware though, this is where the imprecise platforming can really be a problem as some of these challenges really do require tight controls.

Pikuniku has a simple but great looking visual style, designed itself to inspire joy and humour. This is complemented by that all important catchy soundtrack that really matches the on screen adventure. Although the story is not that interesting, the conversations with the locals and the like are brilliantly written, often raising a chuckle as the games heart-warming humour just keeps shining through.

piku3 (Copy)

Pikuniku is not a difficult game. In fact, it is not even that challenging at all. But it is a game that fulfils a different purpose. The bright colours, silly characters, catchy tune and whimsical humour acts as an antidote to stress and misery. It is simple fun and will force a smile even onto the most grumpy face. Pick up Pikuniku on Switch and put some joy in your life.




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