Licensed games specifically aimed at kids used to get plenty of attention in the past but after Smartphones’ advent, their frequency of release started to decrease once the focus shifted on a free-to-play model for games. PAW Patrol is refreshing to see in the current market where you struggle to find a good game solely for kids. Nintendo still manages to fit this category but on other platforms, the choices are extremely limited.
PAW Patrol: On a Roll is based on the hit animated show that is purely for kids. The concept behind the show is that a group of dogs of various breeds come together under the leadership of a boy called Ryder and form a team known as the PAW Patrol. Their job is to rescue the different animals that are in trouble, and the game basically accomplishes the same thing here. Keep in mind that while I am familiar with the show, I am not that well versed in it to pick things apart, but I think this is the gist of it.
Visually, the presentation is pretty much on point here. The character models for the dogs, their abilities, and even the menu layout have been closely designed around the show’s concept of search and rescue missions. There are around 16 such missions in the game and each mission has two types of collectibles. You will be rescuing all types of wildlife and pet animals during the course of the main campaign and can unlock special badges by fulfilling various objectives like getting a certain amount of collectibles.
Kids who don’t have much experience with gaming, or don’t understand the complex gameplay mechanics of a modern platformer like Super Mario Odyssey, are the perfect audience for Paw Patrol. It is a simple side-scrolling adventure where you go from point A to B while grabbing any collectibles along the way. Various hurdles appear in front of the player that need the special skills of the dogs like repairing a bridge, using a jetpack or crossing a river. These skills appear in a menu layout once you hit an obstacle, and the game asks you to press a button to execute the skill.
There is no strategy involved here and each level plays out in a linear fashion, so there is no room for a mistake. The simplicity on offer here means this is not a game for long-term play, rather it is only good for those who prefer to complete a level or two. The more you play each level, it becomes obvious that the gameplay loop suffers from repetition. The level design is simple with a lack of details in the environments and assets being repeated. The only thing that urges you to explore around is finding every collectible. You can locate 200 bones and five badges but the reward is a simple picture at best.
Every mission lets you play as two of the dogs from the PAW Patrol. The missions are actually designed around their abilities, so they are not just mindless fun. I also enjoyed how the game structured each mission and its story on the TV show, which should please the kids who enjoy it. There is too much hand-holding during each level though, and many phrases keep repeating during the mission to remind you of certain objectives. Kids who get stuck will find it helpful, but adults can find it annoying.
PAW Patrol is not a bad game per se, it just plays it a little too safe. There is no complicated level design or strategy involved here, so most of the levels are a breeze. Once you unlock everything, there is no incentive to replay a level again. Even if you have a kid, they can get bored easily because of the lack of variety in the level design and gameplay loop. I will only recommend it for those who are a fan of the show, since I think this is a decent game based on the show, just not a good platformer overall.
I will also take a moment to mention that the game’s performance was slightly disappointing on the Nintendo Switch. It is such a simple game with nothing complex being rendered on the screen, but a huge input lag ruins the controls. Whether this is due to the low frame rate, or some other technical issue, it still has a bad effect on the controls. The visuals look good in the portable mode and average in the docked mode, but otherwise, they are not that special.
PAW Patrol: On a Roll Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: PAW Patrol is on a roll! No job is too big, no pup is too small! Join the entire PAW Patrol team—including Everest and Tracker—for 16 exciting rescue missions around Adventure Bay! Help each pup use their unique abilities to help their friends and save the day!
Final Score - 5.5/105.5/10
As a game developed for kids first, the presentation is simple with a repetitive gameplay loop which doesn't offer any challenge. Kids will appreciate it for the first few levels, but even they can experience the boredom once the initial excitement is over.