There’s something refreshing about playing a mega man-like action platformer in 2023. Instead of vast open worlds to explore, you get a handful of themed stages to navigate. There’s no deep storytelling or lore to invest in, but the colorful cast of villains and allies still draw you in with their fun designs. Catchy chiptune scores get stuck in your head instead of epic orchestral arrangements. All of the above is true of Sonzai Game sports theme bat boy; If you’ve ever played an action platformer, you know what’s in store, and that’s not a bad thing.
Bat Boy’s opening cutscene introduces you to Ryosuke and his team of heroes of eight athletic friends, including his tennis player love Racket Girl and macho (American) soccer player Mr. Blitzer. Inexplicably, a small gremlin man named Lord Vicious and his bodyguard lure the Super Sports Friends into a trap, brainwashing them into joining his games in another dimension. Ryosuke, wielding his trusty bat, manages to take out the brainwashing magic before it can infect him, so it’s up to him to seek out and beat his pals’ possession as the titular Bat Boy. , gaining abilities from his friends along the way. who will help him in his quest. Garou, a talking crow, also distributes information and cues.
To save his friends, Bat Boy tackles 12 vivid and uniquely themed stages, most loosely related to the sport of the boss at the end of the level. Aquaria, for example, reigns over a sunny beach scene, though Starlet Twirl resides in a vibrant jungle where we couldn’t quite find a connection to her baton whirlwind. There are a handful of other levels that include platforming challenges, optional combat, and your genre-standard final level split into two sections. All had quite catchy music that we never got tired of; in fact, we made sure to turn up the music volume in the settings.
Unlike Mega Man, Bat Boy doesn’t have an immediate way to shoot his enemies. Instead, he hits them with his bat. Its other main means of attack and defense is to reflect enemy projectiles back at them. Early on, he learned to throw his bat at his opponents (we’re pretty sure that’s an illegal move in baseball), and later on, he threw tennis balls, basketballs, and the like. Kind of like how shovel knight can bounce off enemies with his shovel, Bat Boy also gains airtime if he hits an opponent in the air, creating a fluid movement system that requires precise timing while being fair and satisfying.
While we enjoyed Bat Boy’s basic moveset, we barely used most of his friends’ abilities once we learned them. The Basketeer’s bouncing basketball attack, for example, we forgot about, and rarely found a use for Starlet Twirl’s Grappling Ribbon. On the other hand, Aquaria’s invincibility bubble saved us from hitting again and again. These abilities share limited stamina, so we felt compelled to save uses to keep ourselves alive in enemy-dense stages.
These enemies mainly consist of Pigzies, who are adorable little monster piggies dressed in all kinds of costumes: hockey Pigzies who skate on slippery ice surfaces, samurai Pigzies who strike with their kendo swords, maddening wielding tennis rackets that repel any projectile without fail, and so on. When a scene was absolutely filled with pigs and other creatures, the amount of baseballs and soccer balls thrown can be overwhelming. It was a good thing that we could improve Bat Boy’s health by finding optional hidden herbs at each stage.
Without these health boosts, we would never have been able to complete the game, and we consider ourselves quite experienced in 2D action platformers. Indeed, a few levels threw absurd spikes in difficulty at us, to the point where we failed more than 40 times in one stage, then cleared the next stage in less than five attempts. The checkpoints kept things from getting too impossible, but as you’d expect, the final checkpoint before each stage’s boss required smashing and jumping through an absolute challenge.
Mr. Blitzer’s lava-themed scene, in particular, got us ready to throw our bat out the window. After a long streak, the pre-checkpoint challenge was to dodge a pig-nosed lava shark on a small raft with limited wiggle room, past a horde of Chuck loaded-as Pigzies rushed us. If we weren’t determined to see Bat Boy for review, this section might have kept us from coming back to finish.
It’s the first shot. Strike Two comes with a few bugs and issues. These ranged from enemies and obstacles getting stuck in the environment to not being able to resume the game after opening the pause menu. The latter forced us to completely close the game, losing our checkpoint progress more than once before we remembered to open the Home menu on the Switch instead.
Towards the end of the game, GooijiBat Boy-like clones mirror his movements until they are drawn into the rain where they melt. However, as we repeatedly tried and failed in this tough (but fair) section, the Gooiji Bat Boys eventually failed and stopped spawning, undoing an otherwise climactic challenge that led to the penultimate fight. against the boss.
If you’re craving a classic action platformer with a Mega Man flavor, Bat Boy will satisfy you. It has a fun sports theme, great tunes, and dynamic levels to navigate. As fans of this genre, we enjoyed most of our time with it aside from a few sudden difficulty spikes and a handful of bugs – especially one that caused us to lose our progress if we dared to use the pause menu. A post-launch patch or two might alleviate these issues, but in its current state Bat Boy isn’t hitting a home run – although it isn’t quite hitting either.
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