Joggernauts is an auto-runner that’s just been released for Steam and Switch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to it’s potential.
The game pushes co-op play but is accessible to single players, although it’s a lot easier with a buddy. Each player controls a different coloured Joggernaut, with creative designs for each. (A strange thin necked bird is a highlight) They run along the game, one always a second or so behind the other. With a press of a button one Joggernaut moves to the front of the queue. This allows that Joggernaut to destroy obstacles of the same colour as them. Thats pretty much it, its a low key and breezy affair.
Key parts of your spaceship have been lost in an accident, but more importantly the trophy collection of your angry captain C.O.A.C.H. These spaceship parts and the trophies are scattered across the levels and have to be reclaimed. It’s important to get your ship working again, but more important to get back that trophy collection back. Doing so proves about as fun as actually going jogging.
A Few Funny Jokes
The there’s a lot of fun in the brief set up of Joggernauts. The obsession with finding trophies gets a callback when the low count is used to lock you out of the next set of levels. It’s basically just one or two good jokes, and literally three callbacks to that same joke. It’s a shame that this initial humour shown in the set up for Joggernauts is not present throughout gameplay. The colourful world of the opening is pretty much side-lined during gameplay for a nicely animated but generic world of obstacles. Applying this feel to the whole experience would have gone a long way to keeping it interesting, or at least break the monotony.
The gameplay itself is simple. There are two buttons. One to go to the front of the queue and the other to jump. It’s the sort of system that should be easy to learn and difficult to master. However, it just turns into a rhythm mini-game. The Joggernaut in front has to be the same colour as the obstacles to remove them. Obstacles are in various shapes. Some are creatures, walls, or even switches to control lasers. It’s still just lining up colours though.
Some later levels get a bit cleverer with this, using the switching mechanic to bypass the obstacle rather than triggering it. A game that promises to be easy to learn and difficult to master should really be pushing its mechanics further than this. Joggernauts does very little to explore the switching mechanic beyond the first five levels. Some of the trophy placements are more creative, but they’re too few and far between.
Joggernauts is co-op focused. Aiming for a fun experience for multiple players. Co-Op play is basically just co-ordinating when to press the switching button. This is more challenging, but also pretty tedious. All your doing is timing a button press. It’s hardly material for exciting couch co-op.
The different ways of presenting the colour barriers can’t really hide the fact that you’re just lining up a colour. You’ll need a very specific crowd with you to actually sell it as a party game. How many people actually enjoy taking it turns to click? The visuals help but really the game needs more to engage players to be fun for multiple people. Switching at the wrong time can kill off a different player. However, there is no real reason or motivation to do this. Aside from letting out some frustration.
Joggernauts is Accessible
The accessibility options on offer under ‘modifications’ are a nice touch. They allow you to pre-set your health, speed, and how often checkpoints appear. There’s no penalty for doing so. With these options hovering in the middle, the game should drag out for a few hours while you hunt more trophies. Ramping up the speed and turning health down will provide you with more of a challenge. Doing the opposite makes a quicker experience.
However, when the challenge is simply pressing the button at the right interval it gets old pretty fast. These ultra-fast modes are harder, but its difficult to see who they’ll actually appeal too. Joggernauts isn’t really fun enough to warrant continual replying on faster and faster speeds. With four players, someone is going to get bored of clicking when told before you’re all proficient enough to play at this speed.
The fun and goofy visuals help distract from the limitations of what you’re actually doing. It’s probably a title that will entertain and challenge younger children. The accessibility options also help lowering the challenge if it gets too frustrating. Joggernauts is too short to ever do anything with its mechanic. It never get more complicated, just duller.
- Humour in the dialogue and characters
- Cute visual design
- Dull Gameplay
- Frustrating Co-Op
- Easy to learn, boring to master
Joggernauts is a fairly dull entry. Its single player is annoying but less likely to alienate your friends. Co-op quickly becomes frustrating. The game has some good qualities, like the snappy writing which appears about three times. Trophy placement occasionally innovates with the mechanic, but the majority don’t. It’s a shame these elements are not better utilised.