Review: Badland: Game of the Year Edition (Nintendo Switch)

If you’re a Nintendo gamer who missed it on the Wii U, the boastfully named Badland: Game of the Year Edition was released last month on the Nintendo Switch. It’s an enhanced version of a game first appearing on mobile in 2013. So does it still hold up over eight years later?

In short, I’d have to answer not as well. Badland brought around many players back in the day, but its auto-scrolling physics-based gameplay couldn’t carry the day for me now. That’s not to say the game doesn’t have things working in its favor. But the positives weren’t enough to hold my attention as long as I expected.

Badland
Badland
Badland

I like the way Matt put it in his review of the Wii U port: “Badland is nothing revolutionary, but it is a game that knows what it wants, and executes it well.” So the question I raise is, “Does what Badland wants match with what I want?” Evidently, just in part. I desire some story. I wish there were an option for touch screen support. I want more music.

The game has a fair amount of content, with 100 levels. It’s challenging too. Like the Wii U version, “In most cases, checkpoints are incredibly generous and death will only set you back a few seconds into the past.” But it still throws a lot at the player in its helter-skelter levels, several that will only be learned through failure. Multiplayer ups the ante (coop and versus), although it can bring some enjoyment that I found playing solo had less of, presuming you get in a rhythm.

Badland
Badland
Badland

Add in things like achievements, missions, clones saved, etc., and there’s plenty of content for $5.99. I like how the achievements list what you need to do, so you have a clear goal in mind rather than just random play. And statistics (both for single and coop play) have some fun records.

Badland has a striking (if very familiar) visual style. What music exists is good, and the sound effects are strong, if overpowering. HD Rumble can be adjusted. Aesthetics aren’t an issue here. Again, it’s just gameplay that feels dated, no longer clicking in a way it might once have.

I give Badland props for its challenge, multiplayer, bold visual style, and content relative to its price. But it’s a game that wears its mid-2010s origins on its sleeves, warts and all. I feel it hasn’t held up as well as hoped and will have its work cut out for it to stand out on the congested Switch eShop. Want to play Badland in 2021? Do so on a mobile device instead. You’ll get touch screen support and more content that way.

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