Platform: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Co-op puzzler
WayForward has figured out the old-school 2D neo retro-style game and aesthetic down to a science. With titles like the Shantae series and their take on the Double Dragon/Kunio-kun universe, there’s nowhere to go but up for this developer. Though it does beg the question whether they can branch out of their comfort zone.
That’s where Vitamin Connection comes in. WayForward are taking a stab at the multi-minigame genre ala them WarioWare titles in the mid-2000s. It mostly succeeds as an in-door diversion from what’s been going on outside as of late, I can tell you that.
Vitamin Connection starts off with a simple premise -you play as both Vita-Boy and Mina-Girl who are trying to cure a family of their ailments- and then rolls with its plethora of game types. These include navigating into someone’s body while shooting down viruses with your vitamin beam, to untangling a person’s lung system by moving back and forth through an ever-morphing line.
Vitamin Connection also implements a bunch of minigames that are inspired by the likes of Kuru Kuru Kururin, PixelJunk Shooter, and Rhythm Heaven. This means you’ll have to adapt to whatever the game throws at you if you wish to complete all its trials within a single host-slash-stage.
Oh, and a bunch of J-pop and J-rock inspired tunes are playing in the background while you’re flying in your ship from section to section.
If you like a ton of saccharine in your aesthetics, this game is your jam.
It’s hard to pin down what Vitamin Connection is gameplay-wise. Sometimes it’s a 90s-inspired shooter with a slow pace. Other times it’s a motion-controlled maze runner, and also a mini-game rojak. What I can confirm it is, though, is a 2-player focused endeavour.
Co-op Couch Cure
While playing in single-player mode is standard yet unique thanks to its control scheme -you have to rotate your ship while flying through tight passages and use your beam to clear out obstructions- the fun part comes when you’re tackling the game with another person.
When you have two people playing the game, the game’s controls split between them. Player 1 controls movement and fires with the left JoyCon while Player 2 handles tilting motions and aiming with the right JoyCon. You can imagine how tricky that becomes when both of you are coordinating with each other while balancing that fine line between satisfaction and irritation.
Offline co-op the best way to experience Vitamin Connection; with two people who have to work together navigating passageways while surviving the ordeal. And having fun doing so.
I do wish some aspects of the controls can be ironed out a bit more. Rotation methods on the Switch JoyCon isn’t as concrete and “precise” as it should be, to the point where you can just steamroll blindly through most levels. They’re not as bad as the grappling hook controls though, which for the record is pretty jittery and frustrating from the get-go.
Because of the way the game is structured – different family members you cure have maze-like levels- you and your co-op pal will be doing quite a bit of backtracking after doing a minigame in one section. This part gets quite monotonous over time, even with the fast forward button you can use to speed things up.
A Minigame A Day Keeps Your Boredom At Bay
WayForward’s jaunt into minigame mish-mash territory is a good effort.
While Vitamin Connection needs work on its controls and some of its repetitive aspects, it succeeds at entertaining a gaming group with its combination of influences and cutesiness on most accounts. There aren’t that many co-op couch experiences this year; if you have a Switch, you could do worst.
- Fun premise & gameplay.
- Clean and crisp visuals & sound.
- Best experienced with another player.
- Needs 2-player mode to get the most out of it.
- Slightly iffy motion controls.
- Too much backtracking