Imagine NEVER getting to see the Summer and its soaring sun. It’s something that Chu, the hero of Summer Catchers, has never experienced, with her life taking place in a wintery and snowy terrain up North. That all changes though when a helpful wolf gives her a wooden kart to venture Southwards towards the ocean to finally feel the blistering warmth of summer…
The best thing to compare Summer Catchers to would be an endless runner, with players not controlling Chu’s kart but instead deciding the actions it performs based upon a selection of up to three tools at their disposal. The tools you’ll have at any given time are randomly assigned based upon what you have in your inventory, but you can switch between the three depending on what you need. They all have different icons that correspond to what they do so they’re easy to identify at a quick glance, which is perfect given that Summer Catchers requires some quick thinking (and even quicker reactions) from the player.
Your tools give you a variety of different manoeuvres, whether that’s a big speed boost so surge up a hill, a jump to leap over some hazards, or even a shield or pickaxe to protect you from incoming objects, just to name a few. They only take a quick button press to use, though frustratingly you have to manually flick between each one – I’d have preferred if each tool at your disposal just had a face button applied to it, especially since you have to be REALLY quick when using them on occasions.
Fortunately, a lot of the tools have flexibility to them and can be used for multiple things, so even if you don’t get to the one you necessarily wanted to use in time you can still find your way out of a sticky situation. However, there will be times where you might not necessarily even have the right tool to bypass an obstacle, with the random nature of Summer Catchers’ gameplay leaving me in awkward positions where I had no other option than to just accept crashing – it means there’s an element of luck to the game where it’s easy to fail because of something that might not necessarily be your fault. You can even run out of tools completely, which isn’t great…
Whilst it can be frustrating, it’s all part of Summer Catchers’ grindinggameplay. You’ll collect mushrooms during each run which can then be spent to buy additional tools to bump up your inventory, ensuring that your next attempt might be a bit more successful. There are missions to complete in each area that tie to your progression too, with some having you complete specific tasks on a run or collect a certain number of items. They’re a nice touch that adds a bit more variety to the gameplay, though you’ll still have to grind levels multiple times before you’re able to complete them all.
It makes for an experience that can be a little repetitive at places… yet I still found myself addicted. There was something about Summer Catchers’ gameplay that kept me hooked in, with the sense of progress from completing quests and bumping up my inventory always feeling satisfying. You can customise both Chu and your kart’s appearance too, whilst the occasional mini-game and random event adds an extra element of variety (and unpredictability) to the overall experience.
It’s perfect for the Nintendo Switch too, where the quick-paced nature of the game makes it ideal for small pick-up-and-play sessions here and there. Just don’t be surprised if the random nature of your toolset leaves you feel a little frustrated, ESPECIALLY during your first hour of playing when you’re building up your inventory.
One thing I’d be remiss not to mention is the delightful vibe of Summer Catchers. You ever play a game where it just makes you feel all nice inside? Summer Catchers did that to me, with its charming visuals and world coming together to make for a lovely looking experience. Each locale you visit brings with it some wonderful sights, whilst there are plenty of cute story sequences that felt heart-warming to see unfold. Add to that a lovely little soundtrack that fits the tone of the game perfectly and it’s easy to see a lot of care and attention has gone into Summer Catchers’ presentation.
Whilst it has its fair share of frustrating moments, it didn’t take me long to find myself addicted to Summer Catchers’ charming endless-runner style gameplay. There was enough variety to be found across its quests and mini-games to ensure that the overall gameplay never grew stale, whilst the delightful world and its characters were always a treat to encounter.
Sure, it has its share of flaws and the random nature of the gameplay (and dependence on luck) could cause some irritating moments here and there, but the addictive nature of Summer Catchers kept me coming back for more each time. It won’t be for everyone, but those looking for a quick and satisfying title to enjoy on their Nintendo Switch in short bursts really ought to give it a try.
Publisher: Noodlecake Studios
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC