If there is one thing that Nintendo Switch isn’t missing its 2D platformers. Every time I open up the shop it seems a new one has entered the battle field. This makes it hard for any of them to truly stand out as after a while they all start to blend together. In my opinion one of the best ways to stand out is eye popping art style. The developer behind Pankapu (Too Kind Studios) knows this and have used it to their advantage. The game has a beautiful aesthetic to capture your attention and stand out as a unique experience, but does the rest of the game match up to that first impression?
The story follows a child named Djaha’rell. The game goes through between 2 separate realities. There is the dark and horrific nature of Djaha’rell’s world and then there is the one of filled with his fantasies. The details and lore of it fall at the waste side and didn’t keep me involved. Everything here was about the gameplay and aesthetic.
Pankapu is what you would expect from your standard 2D platformer. There aren’t any experimental concepts here as most of the gameplay is your standard platforming mixed with a little bit of exploration. If you’re the collecting type there are these critters called Mudjins hiding throughout levels. I mentioned before the art style is what makes this game stand out and that is one of its most redeeming factors. Unfortunately sometimes that cannot always save the game. The level design at times can feel a bit odd and frustrating. Certain enemies attack and move in a way that almost feel unfair to the player. This makes the game feel that it has an up and down difficulty spike. There is nothing wrong with a challenge and the game is by no means unbeatable but these little occurrences got disconcerting in the early game. It got to the point where I didn’t feel like finishing the game but I am glad that I pushed forward.
Next to the aesthetic, Pankapu’s best feature is its weapon and skill upgrade. As you play through the story you get upgrades here and there. Some aren’t as substantial as the last but each one plays a roll in buffing up your character. The movement of my character felt a little too slow for my liking but I am just used to more fast paced platformers. Jumping itself can feel a little “floaty” at times which in some instances helped me make jumps I wasn’t sure I could. The block button is mapped to the “A” button which is a little off. The controller has 2 triggers, any of which would have been preferred for blocking. Movement itself is only limited to the control stick, no D-pad functionally is included. The stick works perfectly fine but D-Pad’s are the staple of any 2D platformer. The exclusion from here is rather puzzling.
I was close to dismissing Pankapu but for the most part I enjoyed my time with it. It’s a solid platformer with a beautiful audio/visual presentation. At first the small difficulty spikes and control scheme may be enough to deter but you I recommend to keep on pushing for a beautiful experience. Anyone looking for a adorable, vibrant platformer should check this game out