Oh, boy. This is going to be a long one.
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal was released months ago, but I never got around to it until now. Why? Well, a combination of other things/games keeping me occupied and the reception from other reviews deterred my interest in getting to it. Yet, its status in my mind as unfinished business simply had to be rectified sometime. Now that I played through it, however, I can say with quick ease that I never want to play it again. Given my love for platformers and creative looks, I had a hard time believing Ginger could be that bad. I went into it with modest expectations, and those expectations were increasingly shattered as I progressed through this travesty of an adventure.
The game takes place in this world that’s inhabited by a bunch of Smurf-like creatures and monitored by an unseen goddess. For some random reason, the goddess abandons the realm and sends Ginger to set things right for her…even though she quickly comes back to it to inform him on what to do. Within the HUB areas, there are NPCs that grant missions for Ginger. The prizes? Materials for rebuilding buildings in their villages. Why should Ginger help these people if they aren’t going to help themselves with their own tools? From there, there are random varieties of characters and level themes. How do they relate to the overarching plot? Well, the last them is a fight with a giant flying fish, so I’d say they don’t at all.
While the characters may seem interesting, nothing they say is interesting. The dialogue is as cut-and-dry as it can possibly get, except with an unhealthy dose of consistent grammatical errors. The only standout lines in Ginger: Beyond the Crystal are the two times a villain says a mild swear; keep in mind this is an E-rated game (and not E10+, I literally mean E).
When I looked at preview images for this game, I honestly thought there was an evident sense of creativity. You can really tell the developers were trying to make a magical landscape that players could get invested in by noting the set pieces and distinctive art styles. As a throwback to the era 3D platformers dominated the gaming scene, it seemed all too fitting for those things to be the case. Yet, Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a trainwreck in action.
The game can only run in 60 frames per second if there are few enough objects present in the room. As soon as it reaches beyond that, the performance appallingly chugs. It constantly struggles to maintain even a framerate of 30, and there are lots of times where it depletes even at that point. The HUB areas are the worst offenders, while the Mario Sunshine-style platforming levels are the total opposite since there’s so little rendering necessary for those.
Problems don’t stop there, either. Some character animations are fluid and cartoon-y, while others are static and glaringly unpolished. In fact, I’ve encountered multiple visual glitches by accident, and some of them were easy to replicate. There are also many instances where the text box wouldn’t leave the interface because the game would only look out for the player pressing A to exit out of it instead of any other button (this is despite that the B button is able to advance dialogue, too).
The best category, bar none, is the audio department. There isn’t anything I could remark against the music, which is as atmospheric as it is appropriate for a 3D platformer. It’s the kind of stuff that would be right at home in the house of RareWare. While the sound effects are a bit more stock, they are nevertheless defined and mixed finely with what goes on onscreen. I also find the progression jingles to be nice and soft on the ears.
Holy Sugar Honey Iced Tea, playing this game is a monotonous nightmare!
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is split into three types of levels, but it’s a “jack-of-all trades, master of none” sort of deal. Ginger has a double jump that can come in handy at times, as well as a punch that can one-hit-kill most of the enemies in the game. The game also likes to dress Ginger up in various costumes that behold special powers, but you can’t actually use most of them. They are only used to get Ginger into a position in a level that you otherwise cannot access. In that regard, all of them have essentially the same power but with different cosmetics. One power you can use at will is the one where you place bombs (even then, this power is obtained in around the final act); for absolutely no reason, the bomb is sensitive to collision with other objects, and its explosion can instantly kill Ginger. Ginger also instantly dies when falling off from a large-enough height.
Here’s where the problems lie within Ginger: Beyond the Crystal. It’s like the developers had been busy trying to come up with ways to prolong the game length in spite of its primitive mechanics rather than make any part of it fun. The HUB areas are abysmal to travel through because all they do is force the player through pointless timer challenges and fetch quests to increase the ability to move on to an actual level. The second HUB is particularly rancid since the low draw distance makes the view look incredibly foggy, therefore making it harder than it already is to find your way around in the first place. Should you go to a level or another HUB, you’ll have to sit through loading times that give Sonic 06 a run for its money.
Once you finally go to a level, you realize just how limited the 3D platforming is. When it comes to the genre term, you expect an open world with objectives you could approach in ways that are up to you. Meanwhile, Ginger here is confined to a small, linear space similar to that of levels in Super Mario 3D Land. But unlike Mario, Ginger has no sense of engaging design; none of the enemies behave too differently from one another, and the layouts are glorified hallways that only exist to pad out game time. Making things worse is when you go to a part that can’t be accessed because you’re actually supposed to go down a different path first. At first, arrows light up to point the way forward. Then the game soon forgets it ever started such a thing, leaving it entirely up to the player to hope he or she is heading the right way. Often, there’s a fetch quest incorporated into a level that makes you have to travel around parts you already visited just to please the NPC and get a move on.
And all this is without the level-specific BS! If the crap factor wasn’t already dialed up, some levels would have their own annoying features that distract and frustrate. You’d think being forced to repeatedly wiggle the right analog stick in certain areas would be where the suffering stops, but that’s actually one of the lesser troubles! There’s this haunted house level, for example, that’s filled to the brim with fixed camera angles. You also play hide and seek with a guy that has way too low of priorities to be considered a legit threat. Then again, he said “Damn” so he must be evil. Another horrid example is the circus level, where you escort a super-slow kid that loses sight of you as soon as you step away from him by a few feet. Said level also has a memory match minigame where you have to use bombs to uncover the pictures – keep in mind the bomb’s sensitivity to anything that touches it. You’d think the Mario Sunshine-style obstacle courses could be at least a little more creative than what’s found otherwise, but you’re instead treated to jumping challenges for every single one of these levels. There’s no variation in their difficulty whatsoever; the closest it ever gets to throwing in a new element is the use of platforms that disintegrate, and you can bet it doesn’t go far with it.
Then it gets worse. Visual glitches are far from the only kinds one will experience in this garbage! That escort mission I mentioned earlier? One time I got to it, the kid couldn’t move! It didn’t register to him that I was ready to pick him up despite me standing inches away. Before that, I faced another game-breaking glitch where I wasn’t able to shoot stars (the only other power I could use at will) in a minigame that required me to do so. One recurring bit that makes my blood boil is when a timer is triggered so suddenly there’s no way to react in time the first time around. And if you die while a timer is going off, it doesn’t reset. It keeps going, and the timer running out usually results in a bigger push back than if you were to just die. This spaceship level below has the absolute bottom of the barrel of these timer events. For whatever reason, the game holds your hand on basic details, but leaves you on your own when you need help most.
Above all else, THIS GAME IS AN EFFING SLOG!! I’ve been on and off of Ginger: Beyond the Crystal for days. After all the time I spent on this game, I feel I could have spent the that time playing a Zelda game instead. As I suffered, I thought about the other Switch games I bashed. Ben 10 was also a marathon filled with nothing but padding and boring, repetitive mechanics. Yet, it was several hours shorter than Ginger. Vroom in the Night Sky was a horrendous indie title that like its concept wasn’t even planned halfway through, yet its unintentionally hilarious Engrish was more than I could ever get out of Ginger. Lots of hours spent playing Ginger, and what have I gotten out of it? Nothing. I’ve got nothing. This is coming from someone that got this game for free for the sake of reviewing it. Imagine how one would feel after having spent $19.99 to play it.
The more I fought through Ginger, the more I despised it. The reason why this review is so long is because I wanted to get the most out of this page after all that I’ve endured in the game. After all, there is no way I’m going back into it! There is no point in the game that redeems itself, rather does it just continue to stagnate the whole way through. Do not be fooled by any interesting art or character designs; this is the worst game I’ve played on Nintendo Switch so far. To think there were plans for a physical release that have mysteriously gone quiet after this game’s digital release. I mean, really? I don’t even think certain titles coming soon could top it in how unbearably awful it is. Do not play this at any cost.
Now to never talk about this again.