Hee hee! I love Pako Caravan. After seeing the gumpf on it last week, I wanted to give it a go to see if it was as hoped, and indeed, it was. My usual approach to new games, especially Switch titles, is to have a quick go and allocate some time to play properly. With Pako Caravan Switch, that quick go was an hour or so.
It is definitely a casual game, but with some serious chops on it for the completionists, you have to grow your caravan both figuratively and literally, dragging hundreds behind you without ever crashing.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it bases itself on the classic Snake game that every boomer had on their Nokia, and gets the odd reboot with games such as Snakeybus. So how do you get to be part of Caravan Club? Read on.
Pako Caravan Switch Review
Pako Caravan is a straightforward concept, but it’s packed to the brim with replayability, thanks to multiple checklists you have to fulfil before moving on to one of the 15 or so levels. Using a star-based system, the more you unlock on a level, the greater chance of moving forward.
You begin each round with a moderately small entourage, which grows in size every time you collect a carriage. This will automatically attach to your vehicle and will ghost every move you make. Naturally, the more you have, the more likely you will crash into yourself like a mechanical Ouroboros.
Each vehicle in Pako Caravan Switch will perpetually move forward: you can’t just park up and cheat your way through it. On that basis, it’s constant movement, making it really tricky to navigate the relatively large levels. On first inspection, the isometric levels are big, but it feels like driving in a cubicle as you extend.
The only thing you need to focus on is not crashing. To do that, you steer out of the way of stationery items and your tail, but you will also unlock the jump option to clear minor chasms and even your own trail as you’re bound to cross it again.
Jumping For Joy
A hop, skip and a jump is all you need to reach safety, but in Pako Caravan’s case, it’s merely a jump, and on that part, a restricted one. The number of times I miscalculated a jump and landed on myself was unprecedented. Clearing obstacles and gaps weren’t as bad for some reason.
Each time you jump, you have a cooldown. Having you constantly jump would make the game much easier, and Tree Men Games want you to suffer! When I first saw the screenshots, I wondered what the eject icon was on the screen. That’s the jump cooldown.
Each time you leap a carriage, the button will fill up again. Though it’s rather large and theoretically, you can’t miss it, your focus is clearly on avoiding a crash. Unlike some of the similar titles in this genre, you can end up clipping the side of something and have to restart.
I wouldn’t say that Pako Caravan Switch is rage-inducing, but if you are so close to one of the objectives – say, a 200 strong caravan, only to crash out at 197, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Still, you dust yourself off and go for it again.
Glutton For Punishment
Even when you succeed in one of the tasks, you will repeatedly play a stage for several reasons. The first is to unlock more stars to progress onto the other levels, the other is for the challenge and completionist aspect, but the third is the most important: it’s fun.
I’ve been having an enormous amount of fun with Pako Caravan. Predominantly I’ve been playing this in handheld – bizarrely at bedtime as I find it quite relaxing. Read into that how you will. But the game got a bit of attention from the family too.
My youngest was quick to show off doing doughnuts, the eldest doing the classic “I wasn’t ready”, which supposedly qualifies her for another turn or two in quick succession. Even my wife played, who has the patience of someone hovering the mouse over the ‘X’ on Zoom call, claiming that the internet is dropping, and who knows if the call will end? Imaginative, huh?
The visuals are nice throughout, and the art style is well-suited to the Switch. It has to be said that the soundtrack is equally good – like a chill-out session, with a few fun loops thrown in to keep you sane after you miss out on your record run.
Pako Caravan Switch Review Summary
A definite recommendation from me. Pako Caravan is perfect for the Switch and will appeal to a wide range of gamers – even non-gamers. Just distract the older ones with stories about the Nokia 3210, and before you know it, they’re hooked as much as you are.