How to wind me up the first time we meet: “Hey, buddy! Bud. Sure thing, bud”. Fast-track that anger by saying “Bro” to everything, and we’ll get on like a house on fire. That’s not a good thing. A game called Buddy Simulator 1984 might not be the best game to ask me to review then.
In all seriousness, you can’t judge a book by its cover, nor can you assume a game will be poo based on your experience with over-familiar sales types: this game wants to be your friend. So badly. Alas, the control system on the Nintendo Switch – particularly when playing in docked mode, will test your friendship level.
As a gaming crusty, I have a lot of patience – and love – for retro experiences, having done them before when these things were cutting edge. Buddy Simulator 1984 plays like that top-of-the-like monochrome Amstrad my uncle used to own, with pretty much the same sort of gameplay expectations as it’s all text-based.
Buddy Simulator 1984 Switch Review
You’ll be introduced to Buddy, and they’ll ask you a couple of questions about yourself. Immediately infuriated about having to type things out with a controller for, assumedly, the game’s duration was not fun. There’s only a set amount of responses – much like AI-led Acolyte, that makes you think you’re talking to something smart, but you have to reel it into pre-programmed responses. Unable to type how I wanted, I immediately became stupid and started inserting swear words for my juvenile pleasure.
Buddy will ask you questions such as your birthday, favourite colour and whether you like them as much as they like you. Playing games like ‘guess the number I’m thinking’, and Hangman got old quickly, but the interaction was amusing. Then Buddy lets me in on a hack for the system, but I have to exit and restart. Misreading that as ‘reset’, I reset my progress and had to input all my details again; name, birthday, Buddy’s name and so on. After jumping through the hoops, Buddy revealed a new game for me: a text adventure. Yay.
Buddy Simulator 1984 is a flashback to “You’re in a room…”. If you haven’t experienced those sorts of games, I suggest you check out Limmy’s rendition with Adventure Call on YouTube. I never liked those games as I often thought out of the box. That stoic attitude of typing everything except what you’re supposed to write tested my patience, and in all honesty, was not enjoying the game as hoped. However, reviews do need a little insight, so I slogged through.
You Like Me, Right?
That persistence pays off somewhat as the game goes off the rails – mentally. Buddy is trying their best to appease you but doesn’t really have a clue and is technically struggling to fulfil your needs. Like the more recent Triple Take, the game gets self-aware and loses itself (in a good way) with dodgy programming (intentional), and glitchy tactics to unsettle you. The game then morphs from an exclusive text-based game to a visual one like Restless Soul, and gradually advances to scenes that are a technical marvel compared to when it all begins.
There’s an element of Undertale to the game, particularly the tunes involved, but that never did much for me – just to put my tastes in perspective. If we’re being completely honest, which is my default stance – even when this was a code received from publisher Feardemic, I would have bailed 5-10 minutes in and never returned unless it were word of mouth. Still, puerile jokes aside that kept me going in the early part of the game, it did get better, and that whole AI discourse is an interesting one.
Buddy Simulator 1984 is pretty damn unique, and I like that. While it wasn’t a game that I can say was something I thoroughly enjoyed, if you’re looking for something unusual that feels somewhat personal, it might be worth a look – es[ecially if you like retro games. However, it might be recommended to play this in handheld mode rather than docked, as the typing input for the first part is monotonous and might stop you from seeing it through to the end.