Golden Force Switch Review: Unleash The Kraken

A return to the hard-as-nails games of yesteryear, here's a Golden Force Switch review to play on your own or in co-op.

Never have I started a game so excited yet so fuelled by rage. Golden Force is an absolute bastard of a game to get caught up in as you begin the game in a boss battle that is quite frankly, testing.

Hoping to rope my kids in to play co-op with me, my youngest sat redundant with a controller in hand as you only play the opener on your own. Stuck on a ship, the captain barks out commands – ah, it’s a tutorial.

If this is the tutorial, sink the ship and take me with it, this is brutal. Want to read on to see what I think, stay tuned, i.e. keep reading, this Golden Force Switch review.

Golden Force Switch Review

Yes, the opening for this Golden Force Switch review did set the wrong impression and think that Storybird Games (Twitter) misjudged it this early on. If you don’t get past this section, you can’t play the rest of the game – simple. Confession, I even threw the controller. Yep.

And that’s disappointing as once you get past this introduction, Golden Force begins and it’s exactly how I hoped. It’s definitely challenging, there’s no doubt about it, but the visuals and brilliant, the colours feel like the artists were given 100% creative control – it was platform bliss.

Golden Force - Let's dance
Let’s dance. Source: PR

There are four characters to choose from, and once you’re past the intro, you can have another player join you. The characters are as follows:

  • Gutz – blonde.
  • Spina – Shantae fangirl.
  • Drago – token dragon-thingy.
  • Elder – free bus pass.

There aren’t any significant differences here other than cosmetics, but they look great IMHO, if the internet still uses that acronym. You can change their appearance too, a skin though, you don’t get equipment or accessories.

It Takes Two, Bay-bee

Make a note that in the Golden Force two-player mode, if the second person wanders off or lags, a vignette will appear on the screen showing their location. You’ll have to do a lot of to-me, to-you, to share the screen space again.

Aside from it being annoying when the other player does their own thing, the vignette that appears occasionally appears over the action, and you can’t see what you’re doing. Not cool. Either play Golden Force with someone reliable or on your own.

Aside from my whinging about the opening, the worse part about Golden Force isn’t the difficulty, in some sadistic way, that’s a feature. What I didn’t like was the respawning of enemies almost immediately after killing them. 

There are very few health pickups, and many of the deaths you experience are cheap tricks, or harsh level design. Aside from standard and powerful attacks, your character can both slide and dash – the latter a booster to access hard-to-reach areas.

For Those Hard To Reach Places

Unfortunately, most areas are hard to reach and coupled with some of the golf-like challenges of teeing off a skull to hit a switch with perfect accuracy is trying. Note ‘perfect’ accuracy; it’s unforgiving.

Golden Force - Map view
Map view. Source: PR

Still, if you persevere, the levels in Golden Force aren’t actually that long and here’s the easy thing to say; once you’ve done it, repeat visits aren’t so hard. That said, revisiting bosses (including the Kraken from the beginning) will test you.

How did I get past the opener? After about four or so attempts and witnessing her old man in a tantrum, my daughter did it for me. To add salt to the wound, she asked to have another go while writing this up. 

The inner child in me was quite smug that she couldn’t repeat her success, and I could do it for her this time around (through the technique learned from watching her play days before).

Get Your Power-Ups For A Limited Time Only

To combat the difficulty, you could say that there is an abundance of upgrades to equip. Alas, while there is a fair selection of power-ups available from a shop on the world map, they’re almost all temporary.

Coins drops are as aplenty as the claret, so you can keep repurchasing them, but the limited appeal wasn’t for me and happy to stick with the standard attacks, combos and rare specials.

There is the opportunity to permanently boost your health, but these aren’t paid for with standard coins but limited specials scattered across the land. These are far harder to get – and reach, so the chances of boosting your health are limited too.

That would be a welcome addition because the number of cheap tricks I mentioned with unavoidable projectiles and respawning enemies on the spot you’re standing on means you need a bit of a buffer. The starting five HP doesn’t feel enough. 

Golden Opportunity?

Golden Force is a bit of a mixed bag: on the surface, this is perfect, within the context of aesthetics and feel-good factor (ignoring the harsh realities). The characters and animations are great, and there’s a good range of enemies and even better bosses. 

I wouldn’t say the controls are tight, per se. When dashing, it always feels underserved, like you should cover more distance or perhaps regenerate faster. Equally, the aiming system for launching skulls is a pig, unless the switch is in front of or above you.

Golden Force Switch review - Platform shoes
Platform shoes. Source: PR

While the challenge can be relentless, it’s not as hard as Super Meat Boy Forever, and as indicated, once you know how, it’s doable. Just don’t expect to stock up on power-ups to see you through as they have about as much appeal as a soggy biscuit. Eww.

Golden Force is available now on the Nintendo eShop, but you can pick up a super-duper physical Golden Force Limited Edition from PixelHeart, or turn it up to 11 and get the Golden Force Mercenary Edition (available for PS4 too).

Golden Force Review Summary

If it weren’t for the unfairness at times, or the wasted opportunities with power-ups, Golden Force would be a classic. It hits the mark for presentation and feels, but the introduction, while setting the tone for the rest of the game, was a bit much. Definitely worth a look, but be prepared for some resistance.

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