NS Review – Pitfall Planet (Switch)

Pitfall Planet Review

Pitfall Planet is a couch co-op puzzle adventure game that sees you and a friend traverse a distant planet, in search for a means to refuel your ship, and return home. With its bite sized levels, and co-op puzzle style of game play, it fits perfectly at home on the Nintendo Switch.

Pitfall Planet begins far out in space, as the camera zooms through the window of a space ship, our friendly astrobots wake up to discover the ship hurtling into an asteroid belt! The two bots frantically scurry to their emergency escape pods and land safely on the planet below. As you land you can see the spaceship burning up and crashing into the planet, just a little further in the distance. The title screen, ‘PITFALL PLANET’, drops into the level as you gain control of your astrobots and enter the caverns below.

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In order to complete a stage, you need to collect all the fuel scattered across the level and safely enter the elevator. You can also find hidden gems within each level, which can then be used as a currency to buy hats, or even eccentric hairstyles for your astrobots! The added level of customisation is a great incentive that’ll keep you coming back to levels you’ve already completed in order to find that hidden gem, as they’re often tucked away and out of plain sight.

As expected, the first few levels are relatively straightforward. The first puzzle you encounter requires one player to stand on a switch, which allows the other player access to a bridge in order to reach the elevator. Only one player is required to enter the elevator, and when one does, a countdown will begin. Regardless of the 2nd player making it in time, both will progress to the next stage. Pitfall Planet keeps it simple to begin with and eases the player in, a great way of keeping the game accessible to whoever you may pass that second joy-con to.

By holding ZL or ZR, you’ll discover that these astrobots can grapple nearby items, such as wooden crates found within the stages. These can then be dropped on a switch by pressing L or R, or placed against a wall to access higher, otherwise inaccessible areas. Another function of the grapple is to hook your friend and throw them across areas, to collect fuel that had been previously inaccessible. That is if you’re friend isn’t trying to throw you into a lava pit for the hell of it!

In fact, if one astrobot does take damage, you’ll be given the option to immediately restart the stage or continue with only one. Due to the various puzzles that require two astrobots to complete, it’s usually not possible to finish the stage with only one. The function of grappling items, or the other astrobot, creates a new dynamic to the puzzle focused levels by adding verticality and encouraging experimentation.

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As you progress through Pitfall Planet, you’ll often see various diaries scattered around multiple levels. All of which belong to a mysterious ‘Kate’. Her story is told through these diaries, and they even go as far to explain that Kate has spare notebooks, due to her awful habit of leaving them behind! This does wonders to push the game past its puzzle focused levels and give it a sense of character that’ll keep you engrossed in the adventure that unfolds.

Pitfall Planet quickly begins throwing more obstacles at you as you progress. In one level you’re racing against the rising lava, whilst having to collect all the fuel and activate several switches. In another you’re plunged almost entirely into darkness and left to locate the remaining fuel with what light flickers from your lantern, all the while enemies are hunting you down. We’re even introduced to an early boss fight which sees one player distract the boss, whilst the other throws explosives at its crystallised tail.

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The progressive difficulty is exactly what was needed to keep the game exciting. The later levels will test your problem-solving and platforming skills, whilst the first few levels are used more as a space to get use to the mechanics and themes that will carry on throughout your time playing Pitfall Planet. The collectable gems add the replay value that is needed for players, who may have already played through some levels, but are adventuring through with a new partner who is less experienced.

Each level is its own well thought out puzzle that’ll keep challenging you to overcome new obstacles. Pitfall Planets bursting character and great level designs make it a fantastic experience to enjoy with a friend.

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