Sometimes, games are kept within regional boundaries. The most notable examples are from Japan, which houses plenty of titles that international gamers wish they could get their hands on. As I was searching online for Nintendo Switch games the United States haven’t officially received, however, I came across an intriguing set of titles that were only ever released in German territories. One of these is Schlag den Star, a video game based on a popular German game show.
Good thing the Switch is region-free, eh?
The first thing that comes to mind when I look at the game in action is the Wii era. The Wii was loaded with licensed titles coated with low-rate graphics, and Schlag den Star is no different in this department. Looking like an early Playstation 2 title at best, this game runs at 30fps and features the same kind of ugly 3D cartoon models as seen in other video games based on live shows from that console generation. Why has this been a standard for the genre? To appeal to kids? I think kids would be more interested in playing Mario than answering to quizzes.
I suppose the audio is the best category of the bunch, because it does play out exactly as you’d expect for a game show. It’s kind of stock (particularly the voice clips for characters you play as), sure, but it works. There just isn’t anything spectacular, and Elton’s deliveries seem rather tame for a host.
Schlag den Star has a few game modes to choose from, but all of them borrow from a selection of 25 minigames. Well, 13 minigames and 12 quiz formats. Yeah…I haven’t seen the actual show, but something tells me the quiz sections shouldn’t be this prominent. The game has a habit of going in a quiz-minigame-quiz-minigame pattern, though the minigames and quiz formats themselves vary. It’s possible for the game to go from having players pull a car to having them mark locations on a map of Earth. The modes are similar to each other in which you play through a series of randomly chosen minigames and quizzes, with the amount of them being the main variation. There is also a mode where you can pick whichever one you want to play. Interestingly, the mode representing the show’s structure has a unique scoring system where players can earn the same amount of points as what numbered round they’re playing. It helps allow for players falling behind to play catch-up quicker and it generally feels more rewarding when a person wins the round.
The minigames have controls that are easy enough to grasp; they all use the analog stick and the A button. For some reason, the game recommends using motion controls at times. To me, it raises the question: Why flick your arm to throw an in-game bean bag when you can get better results by just pressing a button at the right time? The motion controls aren’t too bad, but if you want to pinpoint your accuracy, button pressing is the way to go.
Unfortunately, the minigames themselves are not very fun. They are either badly put together or are just plain mundane. For example, the archery one has an awful first person view – not that it matters, since you can score big simply by pressing A at the right time anyway. Other minigames include dropping a coin through a piggy bank slot, securing a die if it rolls the right number, and whatever else that has littler depth than a mobile tap-fest. I suppose the quiz questions (which are strictly shown in German) are serviceable enough; even then, you’d have to endure a slow pace conjured by the sloppy character animations.
Multiplayer options are a thing in Schlag den Star, but I settled with a CPU for obvious reasons (not that having friends along would change my opinion of the game). The CPU can either be a worthy contender or outright braindead depending on the minigame/quiz. There were a few times where I’d leave the game alone to see if the AI would crack without my interference. Turns out I indeed won certain rounds by doing nothing! Two instances where the opponent would lend me victories include slipping up on the ladybug game and that quiz where you have to pick multiple answers.
Yeah, it’s safe to say Schlag den Star isn’t worth getting from overseas. It’s the kind of bargain bin game that feeds into the mentality that licensed games will always suck. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever played on the Switch, but I have a hard time believing this is a retail video game made after 2002. Whether it shows through the crappy visuals or the overly simplistic minigames that somehow have gameplay issues, there’s an evident lack of care put into the game.