Ayo the Clown
Developer: Cloud M1
Publisher: Cloud M1
Genre(s): Platformer, Action, Adventure, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 28/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Ayo the Clown is an action-platformer that follows Ayo on his quest to retrieve his lost dog. It clearly takes inspiration from Super Mario Bros., Yoshi, and Little Big Planet. With such iconic franchises cited as inspiration, these developers have big shoes to fill. Luckily, Ayo is a clown, and he is accustomed to wearing big shoes. Is Ayo the Clown a standout entrant in the Nintendo Switch catalogue? Or will it be soon forgotten? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Most platformers do not have a heavy emphasis on the story. While I would say that the story in Ayo the Clown was similarly not very impactful, there are certainly some nice touches. The main story is that Ayo’s dog went missing. However, Ayo encounters new characters and assists them with their struggles along his journey too. The story is simple, but the developers target the story to children. At one point, Ayo does not help someone because he is tired of helping people. The player is then shown the importance of helping others, and why it is important to be wholesome. This was a nice addition, but it was clearly scripted. I would have preferred to make the decision to avoid helping these non-playable characters myself so I would personally feel guilty for avoiding them. These are great lessons to learn but including them explicitly made the story childish.
Although the story itself did not catch my attention, I met a slew of delightful characters along my journey. Sure, most of them simply made me complete random assignments but they were well designed and memorable. I enjoyed talking with each character and learning about Ayo’s world. Ayo himself is adorable as well. His infatuation for his friend coupled with him getting constantly embarrassed around her was a nice touch. I really liked seeing the cutscenes that would occasionally play in between levels. Again, the developers clearly had children as their target audience. The story was not very impactful to me, and it was not the reason that I enjoyed the game but there is certainly plenty to enjoy here, especially if you plan to purchase this title for a younger child.
What I did enjoy was the gameplay. Ayo the Clown resembles its inspirations well. Even though it clearly replicated some ideas, it stands out because levels take place in two and a half dimensions. Some enemies and traps attacked me from the Z-axis. It was a neat addition and very few indie platformers implement this. Moreover, this game features powerups despite being a linear action-platformer. I began without the ability to jump which was interesting. I quickly began collecting abilities. By the end, I could wall jump, use a balloon to elevate myself, wield toy weapons and much more. This progression system worked well, and I enjoyed most of the upgrades I received. These upgrades made the gameplay more diverse and made for great level ideas.
Ayo was not the only thing that could make for great level design. The developers of Ayo the Clown included a multitude of different assets in their levels. While many had been used in other platformers before, there were also some novel concepts such as tiles that invert movement and stations that transformed me into a boot dinosaur. Each level included new concepts and expanded upon my move set. For example, once I learned to slide, I was not only required to use it to navigate tight areas, but to avoid traps, I also needed to cancel it. The dynamic level design was one of my favourite parts of this game. Levels felt unique, even if they shared the same theme or were in the same world.
Furthermore, the enemy designs were exciting and fit their themes wonderfully. They always gave me plenty of time to react. When I got hit, it was my fault. I never was hit by an unfair pattern or offscreen enemy. That being said, I did not find the enemies incredibly difficult. They had obvious startup animations and even new enemies were easy to combat. Most enemies die in one hit as well. There is no issue with this. The game was not incredibly difficult, especially when compared to Super Cable Boy and the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection but the innovative levels and thematic enemies make this game rewarding, nonetheless.
Another great element of the game was the boss fights. Instead of simple Koopaling fights like those seen in the latest Super Mario Bros. games, each boss fight showcases unique strategies. Moreover, they are visually different. In one battle I fought a rapping frog but in another, I fought a massive tank. They were innovative, kept me immersed in the game and were the most difficult parts of the game without being inaccessible. These fights were clearly balanced and tested. The game’s polish shines through with these encounters.
Better Late than Never
Although many of the features showcased were excellent, I was disappointed by how slow my character was. He had a faster walking speed, but it was only active on the ground, so all additional momentum stopped when I was airborne. Ayo was slow from the beginning of the game but once the developers introduced the ice physics, it made me realize how much I wanted the speed to be increased. Despite the lack of speed control, I still had a good time playing through the game.
Another reason why the walking speed stood out to me was because of how much backtracking I did during each level. Hidden throughout each level are secrets and hidden items. Each level has six hidden items and the potential to find additional lives and more currency. They were never hidden in unfair places, so it was fun to collect these trinkets. Moreover, finding missed items gave me a reason to revisit levels I already completed. All of this is great. Unfortunately, because of this exploration aspect and levels being very time consuming, I constantly wished Ayo’s walk speed was increased, especially because he handled very smoothly and would be easy to control with a faster speed. Even if it brought out the slow walk speed, these collectable items were excellently placed and very fun. I had a great time collecting them.
The developers of Ayo the Clown included wonderful visuals and music tracks to complete their package. The visuals are clearly targeted at children. Some enemies are sitting on the toilet, the trinkets are lollipops and teddy bears, and the weaponry consists of water balloons and balloon swords. I thought the visuals were very pleasing even though some teenagers or adults may find them juvenile. The music occasionally sounded childish but was excellent throughout. Especially towards the end of the game, when things started getting more intense, the sound design strayed from the upbeat friendly tunes to high-intensity tracks which were a welcomed change. I liked the soundtrack. On the other hand, the sound effects were not as excellent. Killing enemies made a satisfying sound and overall, they were fine, but Ayo would frequently make obnoxious sounds when he was close to an edge which I found annoying.
Ayo the Clown is a very solid linear action-platformer. It has unique levels, interesting upgrades, and intense boss fights. Unfortunately, having the game targeted specifically to a younger audience made the game less enjoyable for me but this game is perfect for that younger audience. Even to fans of the platformer genre, there is plenty of value here, especially with the hidden collectables. I had a good time with Ayo the Clown.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Ayo the Clown on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.