Game Review #470: Sir Eatsalot (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: John B Developer: Behind the Stone Publisher: Behind the Stone Category: Adventure, Platformer Release Date: 1.9.2020 Price: $12.99
Buy Sir Eatsalot from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
The Playstation Vita was probably my favorite handheld system until the Switch came along. Its games made use of motion controls and the system’s touchscreen to add some pretty fun mechanics to its game library. That makes the Switch a pretty natural place for ports of Vita games – kind of the only place, really. Enter today’s game, Sir Eatsalot from developer Behind the Stone. It was originally released as a Vita exclusive in 2018, and this January has found its way onto the Switch. It’s a colorful, charming, all-ages adventure about a rotund knight’s quest that integrates all of the Switch’s many control inputs – but requires players to play it only in handheld mode.
The Knight, The Witch, and the Side Scrolling
The kingdom of Gluttington is at peace, and King Dietan III sits the throne, overseeing a time of prosperity for his people. Until, that is, the evil witch Hysterica poisons the kingdom’s water supply with sour lemonade. The situation seems hopeless, but the king has an ace up his sleeve; Sir Eatsalot – hero of the people and, uh, general food enthusiast. Gluttington’s bravest, largest, hungriest hero sets off on a quest to counteract the poison, defeat the witch, and taste the nation’s most delicious delicacies along the way. The story is fairly simple, and the game’s storybook graphics are charming as heck. The combination of the two makes for a very entertaining all-ages experience that would make for a good animated movie or book series, but excels as an interactive experience on the Switch as well.
Slow-Paced Platforming is Pretty Challenging Too
Sir Eatsalot looks at first like a pretty simple platformer; and to an extent, it really is. It’s in the Metroidvania vein of adventure platformers, which is my favorite kind, so we’re off to a good start there. The controls are fairly simple; you can walk, run, jump, attack, and block. The pace of the gameplay is really slow for a game in its genre, which seems at first like it might make the game way too simple. Sometimes it does, but the slow speed of the game actually makes it quite challenging in certain areas. The first boss fight took me several tries, simply because I was trying to figure out the timing of the animations. Fast reflexes don’t really help you here because of the length of the character animations; they take so long you have to time your actions to enemy animation frames rather than your character’s positions. It’s a unique approach to platforming, but not as satisfying from a gameplay standpoint as more fast-paced platformers.
Switch Up Your Controls
As I mentioned in the open, Sir Eatsalot features touch and motion controls in addition to traditional controller inputs. You can use your finger to do things like swipe to cut away vines, as well as tap plants to harvest their fruit – like donuts, parfaits, and sandwich wraps – which replenishes your health and stamina, as well as tapping traps to set them off so they can’t hurt you. The motion controls are used less frequently for more one-off actions, like shaking things or moving a boat through water. The controls are well-implemented and fairly consistent, though you may need to take off your screen protector, if you use one – or at least I had to, anyway.
While it can be pretty cool when games go out of their way to integrate all of the various functionalities a console possesses, I don’t like it when games don’t let me play with my preferred controller input. I generally prefer playing my Switch with a Pro controller, so having to play the game undocked with the Joycons attached felt very restrictive. The Pro – and even the Joycon - has motion controls that can be used to simulate the touchscreen components. I understand that would require extra work and – more importantly for smaller game studios – greater expense, but it’s rather limiting. Plus I have to wipe fingerprints off the screen every so often. Cleaning is a chore; I don’t play video games to have extra chores.
I talked about it a little in the first section of the review, but Sir Eatsalot’s visual style is very reminiscent of a children’s storybook. The hand-drawn aesthetic is very visually appealing and bursting with charm. The sprites possess a cartoonish sense of life, and the lush backgrounds make sure the game never looks stale. The soundtrack is fairly gentle, befitting the storybook nature of the game, but when combined with the slow pace of the gameplay it makes for a pretty low-energy experience overall. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable, but my personal preference runs towards more up-tempo action platformers, and this definitely isn’t that. On the flip side, Sir Eatsalot knows it isn’t a fast-paced action game, and never makes any attempt to be. When a game knows what it is, it’s able to craft a more complete, consistent experience, and that definitely describes Sir Eatsalot well.
Sir Eatsalot is a slower-paced action platformer with an entertaining all-ages story and eye-catching storybook graphics. The slow pace doesn’t necessarily hinder the game’s challenge level, but it is most frequently on the easier side of the platformer difficulty spectrum. The biggest inconvenience – for me, anyway – was the lack of choice when it comes to controller selection. You have to play undocked with attached Joycons, or you can’t play at all. Still, Sir Eatsalot has a lot of fun to offer players looking for a laid-back experience.
Buy Sir Eatsalot from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*A game code was provided for review purposes