Title: Vitamin Connection
Genre: Adventure, Shooter, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 20/02/2020
Price: £15.14 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Vitamin Connection is one of those rare games that has been designed and built by a third-party with a specific piece of hardware in mind. Wii Sports and Nintendo Land were intended to be showcases of Nintendo’s then-new consoles, but it’s not very often you’ll see an indie developer packaging hardware-exclusive features into the core gameplay of its titles.
In WayForward’s latest game, you’ll assume the roles of Vita-boy and Mina-girl: the “co-pilots” of a magic pill which contains the cure to a variety of ailments (although its effectiveness against the Coronavirus is yet to be tested). The extent of the hardware-specific game design is visible from the opening stage, as the pill is shaped like two conjoined Joy-Cons, and it’s your job to guide it through a variety of adverse, two-dimensional environments based within the bodies of ill humans, animals and sometimes technology. (Don’t ask!)
Interestingly, Vitamin Connection plays more like an on-rails, twin-stick shooter than a side-scrolling platformer – which WayForward is somewhat famous for – as the stages auto-scroll leaving you in charge of dodging obstacles, rotating the pill through particularly small areas and using your laser beam to banish foes. After the first stage, you’re also given a hook which can be used to grab certain elements of the environment and sling them out of your way.
The game handles well enough but compared to WayForward’s pedigree of self-published platformers (Mighty Switch Force! and Shantae, I’m looking at you) Vitamin Connection doesn’t feel quite as tight or polished in its mechanics. Rather than punishing the player for getting stuck behind an obstacle, or failing to defeat a particular group of enemies, you can simply pass through them at the expense of your health bar – which isn’t really too much of a concern when you consider that there’s a near-endless supply of health pick-ups throughout the game. You can find yourself in a pickle every now and then, but it’s never so unforgiving as to cause too much frustration.
Its willingness to forgive is something of a concession for the fact that the game has been designed as a two-player experience. There’s no separate multiplayer game mode, but should you decide to pass a Joy-Con over to a friend and play the game cooperatively then the pill’s controls are shared between both of you. Player one will be in charge of rotation and aiming the laser, while player two must fire the laser (sparingly, as fully depleting its usage meter leaves you with a heavily weakened attack until it recharges) and steering the pill.
As your pill approaches various organs on its journey to the root of your consumer’s ailment, one of a handful of mini-games will be thrown into the mix and these offer a sprinkle of variety, along with a couple of new control schemes, to adjust to. A highlight is a rhythm-based game, which sees you copying various commands as they appear on-screen and in time to the beat of its fantastic soundtrack.
Solo players may struggle with this one as they’re effectively following two sets of instructions simultaneously. Naturally, it’s much more palatable when the task is shared and you’re only focusing on one set of instructions. Other mini-games aren’t quite as strong but serve a purpose in almost forcing the two players to communicate and collaborate to conquer the challenge.
With a friend in tow, you have one of the most engaging and entertaining video games in recent memory. The fact that Vitamin Connection also holds up for the solo player is certainly a testament to WayForward’s level design gurus, although your mileage with the title may vary depending on your age range.
The whole game has a Saturday morning cartoon vibe: from the extremely minimalistic visuals to the goofy character designs and their superb voice actors. The presentation is immaculate yet clearly juvenile by design and this effectively summarises who this game is aimed at. If you’re a solo player above the age of fourteen, then I really can’t recommend Vitamin Connection to you. However, if you’re a parent and want an experience to share with your kids – or have kids that enjoy a co-op game – then Vitamin Connection is the perfect pastime.
It’s forgiving enough that you’ll want to persevere, yet obtuse and frantic enough that you’ve not played anything else like it and will want to go back to previous levels, sweep up the collectable stars and beat your previous records in the mini-games. If you liked Snipperclips, you’ll love Vitamin Connection.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Vitamin Connection from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Vitamin-Connection-1721459.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.