Switch version tested
Review code provided
How many ears did Captain Kirk have? Three. The left ear, right ear and the final frontier. Space-themed joke out of the way, let’s continue with the Cosmonauta review on the Nintendo Switch. Cosmonauta is a very much a no-frills type of game and incredibly low-key. It’s for this reason that this title has slipped by for many people no doubt, but should you let it continue to slip past, or is it something that should be added to your list. That all depends on whether you like platform games or not.
You see, Cosmonauta is 100% a platform game in the mould of classic 8-bit and 16-bit classics, though with a slight R-Type theme – a different genre, but it has that sort of vibe; a pick-up and play game that is simple, yet addictive.
The level design, to begin with, is excellent as the non-existing difficulty gives you the false confidence that you are indeed the mutts nuts at these type of games. The chances are you’re going to complete this in the next 15 minutes so you can devour another indie title. But then it suddenly kicks in, and Cosmonauta becomes a classic platform title of timed jumping while avoiding an array of spikes, projectiles and any other hazards intent on stopping you from making progress.
As should be the norm, controls are straightforward, and your character has just the right amount of flight during a jump. There’s a float-like quality to it, but you’re in space, so that kind of makes sense. However, it’s not the unrealistic type of float that sends you to your death every five minutes as you have a reasonable amount of aftertouch when controlling your descents. New hazards and enemies are introduced in rapid succession, so are other elements such as a jet pack that appears to fire projectiles but is just an indication that you’re in flight.
There are zero instructions, so I ended up dying a handful of times as I tried different buttons thinking the power-up I collected was a gun. However, pressing the jump button once more sent me upwards and then it was a case of bobbing about in the air, similar to when Mario swims underwater. The only issue with this power-up is there’s a gauge above your head to indicate that it’s not infinite. Before long you realise you aren’t going to make it and are impaled on the spikes below. Cosmonauta is quite forgiving; there aren’t any permadeaths or limited continues. Checkpoints are generous, and you’ll find that you don’t have to return too far back. However, some challenges are so difficult from the outset that you’ll be searching the internet for an invincibility cheat.
My beef with the game is when your character jumps in tight spaces and also the jetpack. If you press the jump button for longer, you’ll go higher, but when in corridors filled with spikes, it’s hard to lightly press the button without ending up as a focal point on the ceiling. On this basis, I found that the joy-cons weren’t right for the job so switched to the pro controller and it was much better. It doesn’t help that the graphics are pretty small, as are some of the levels, so manoeuvrability isn’t as good as it could be.
With that said, Cosmonauta is an enjoyable game and takes a lot of the good parts from a voluminous history of platform titles, like how Goblin Sword managed to do. You could argue and say that they’ve managed to capture the difficulty level pretty well – games back in the day could be ruthless (looking at you Lion King), but cheat codes were more prominent! Though very very stripped down, I liked the retro graphics and the majority of the platform challenges (in more open areas). Some of the obstacles you can interact with are fun such as orbs that make you bounce higher, but when they move underneath your feet while you’re still airborne, you’re inevitably going to hit the deck. Fortunately the time it takes to respawn, and the location you’re returned to is swift.
When it came to the review, I found that a friend also had the game. Though it’s one player, it was a lot more fun taking turns and trying to get past individual sections, earning kudos from one another for completing a level without dying (rare) or making a dash that bordered on a fluke but looked pretty cool like we knew what we were doing. There’s isn’t any scope for Cosmonauta to be a two-player title, but due to the challenges of the game and the speed it takes to load a level and respawn, it was a fun game to experience with a pal.
Is it worth the money? (at the time of writing it’s 89p on the UK store) Absolutely. If you don’t like platform games, then you might as well give it a miss as that’s the whole premise of the game. Fortunately, it’s done well and offers plenty of challenges over 60+ levels. Just don’t expect to be blown away by anything new, setpieces or gorgeous visuals – it’s a bit of a lite version of Willy Jetman: Astromonkey’s Revenge. In fact, when you start, you get the splash screen followed by a grid depicting the available levels. Nothing special whatsoever, but Cosmonauta doesn’t give any false indications on the type of game it is; it’s focused on the gameplay without any forced gimmicks.
Platform fiends celebrate; for there are a plethora of titles scattered across the eShop. The problem is, what do you choose? For the price alone, Cosmonauta is worthy of joining your collection as it’s simple to play, but a challenging retro platformer. It’s not a standout title or changes the genre in any way, but it does exactly what it sets out to achieve.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: Steam, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 11/02/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Action, Platformer, Puzzle
Developer: QUByte Interactive
Publisher: QUByte Interactive
Download link: eShop