There is a truth universally acknowledged that, no matter how cute they might appear, all cats are bastards. From the devil cats of ancient Egypt, to Blofeld’s feral feline, or the nightmare inducing Siamese twins from Lady and the Tramp, cats are pure evil peerrrrrrsonified in pussy form. This was clearly front of mind for developers The Polygon Loft when creating Double Pug Switch.
The setup then, has us spectating an average day in the local science lab. Inside we find our bespectacled scientist who for some unfathomable reason has decided to bring her pets in on “grow your own dimension” day. Unprofessionalism aside, her unattended puss is doing what all shit bag cats would do given a laboratory full of unattended glass vials perched tantalizingly close to the edge. Vials predictably dispatched, a portal opens up amid the chaos and sucks in all and sundry. This includes the cat, the scientist and a wonderfully dim looking pug, our would be hero.
This puss is a little big for her boots
So there you have it. It’s one pugs mission to go boldly where no pug has gone before. More specifically, to enter the portal, dispatch the cat and retrieve the vials, thereby restoring reality and saving pug-kind as we know it. It’s utterly bonkers, and fabulous in equal measure. Let’s jump on in.
Double Pug Switch is in essence a side-scrolling platformer. You play as “Otis” the aforementioned pug takes lead role. You whiz along a horizontal level jumping your way through myriad obstacles in an attempt to reach the portal at the end of the rail. Other than jump, the main hook of the game is that you can switch between two realities at any time, which makes certain obstacles either appear or disappear dependent on which realm you inhabit. Each level offers a couple of check-points, and death results in an instant reset at the last marker. The premise is pretty simple. But as simplicity goes, that’s where it ends in Double Pub Switch.
The first level or two start relatively slowly, easing you into balancing jumping with switching realm in a series of basic bounds and maneuvers. It introduces a couple of power-ups, either accelerating your hapless pup or shrinking down, each enabling specific obstacle ordinance. At the end of the section, roughly 5-6 levels you face up to the erstwhile kitty, now a malevolent evil force (we told you) in this parallel world. And then comes the difficult spike.
Don’t be fool. Cute as it looks, this is a portal to gameplay hell
Do not be fooled by the cutesy look of this gloriously retro game, or the simplicity of concept or controls. It. Is. Fuckin. Nails. Like, Celeste B-Sides is mere child’s play compared to this monstrously difficult side-scroller. Holy hell, it is hard. Once or twice in review my Switch almost found itself more closely acquainted with the pavement than one would want. Now I am not one to shy away from a difficult game. But this game is simply too difficult to enjoy once you pass a certain point. I’m not saying it wasn’t unenjoyable up to that point, but after almost 50 attempts at the first 7 or 8 seconds of the same level, it was time for a break. Player discretion advised.
Audio and Visual
The art-style, like the premise of Double Pug Switch, has one purpose in mind. It reminds me oh so keenly that I’m a good chunk though my three score and ten years. It takes me back to 90’s Saturday mornings in front of the Cartoon Network. This game oozes retro animation. It’s set in a lab too. Why they didn’t name the pug Dexter and be done with it is perhaps a miss too obvious not to mention. It’s charming and cute and everything you want from this sort of game.
The audio too heralds back to bygone days, with driving, sudo-eight bit riffs underlining your progression though the game. It’s fast, and glitch and fun, providing exactly the right tempo and pace to accent your progression. But there is a but here. As mentioned above, the game is harder than Darren in a playground, and with each check-point so too the score resets. This does get rather repetitive, if I’m being kind, and downright irritating if honesty is more your thing. Perhaps those better at the game than me would gauge this unsavory sonic aside in a more favourable light.
Like other games of a similar difficulty the good news is each set back is a seamless restart. You pug is picked up, dusted off and rese on his course in the blink of an eye. Of course I say “games of a similar difficulty” meaning “extremely hard games that are not nearly as hard as Double Pug Switch”. Think Super Meat Boy and Spelunky 2 to get you started. Other than that, the game ran smoothly on Switch and I only encountered one glitch whilst playing. As far as I could tell this was unintentional. That said, it might have been completing a level, which became such a rarity as I continued to play that I had all but forgotten the consequence of victory.
Replayability and Price
This is tough. As we have mentioned once or twice, this game is not for the faint hearted. Depending on your penchant for pain, this might be right up your street. In which case, you get a lot of bang for your buck. There are a number of collectables to gather, each unlocking a new hat for your four legged friend. Collectiong those adds additional difficulty to the game, naturally, which in and of itself was enough to put me off even attempting to retrieve them. Adding artificial difficulty to a game already harder than all From Software’s efforts combined seems an act of masochism too far.
Then again, some people love this sort of thing. For others that don’t but want a similar source experience, I’d suggest buying yourself a hammer. Hold it out in front of you, and drop it on your little toe. It’ll will set you back about the same £6.99 as the game would.
Conclusion – Double Pug Switch
Double Pug Switch is a great looking game. To a tee true to its undeniable ambitions of evoking in us that warm buzz of Saturday morning cartoons. It’s quirky, whimsical style screams fun, and for a while this is certainly true. Sadly, looks are only skin-deep. The promise of carefree escapism is short lived, with an Everestian difficulty curve rendering a significant portion of the game all but unavailable.
Granted, this is what some look for in a game. And if that’s you, then this will certainly scratch that itch. But for players that look for a challenge that is all but insurmountable to few but the platforming elite, there are better options out there. 6 out of 10.
- Overall - 6/106/10
Double Oug Switch is a great looking game, offering a spattering of fun gameplay before cranking the difficulty up to beyond any reasonable expectations for a game that looks this cute.
It’s not a bad game, it’s just a hell of a rough ride on your Switch. Seasoned platformers need only apply.
“Video games are great. I should know, I’ve played some.”
Olly S, July 2020