You know, the Nintendo Switch appears to be home to a lot of challenging games. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a surprise in that regard, and succeeding titles include Shovel Knight, Has Been Heroes, Snake Pass, Mr. Shifty; the list goes on. These games don’t hold your hand, which makes for a bold theme surrounding Nintendo’s new console. Adding to this list of pseudo-gauntlets is Thumper, a rhythm game that I swear was created by a team of sadists.
“You are a space beetle. Brave the hellish void and confront your nemesis: a maniacal giant head.”
That’s really what the official site for the game says.
Easily the best part of Thumper is its graphics. There’s a very distinct style to it; the neon dystopian atmosphere is super-sharp, and the sixty frames-per-second framerate is perfect for the game’s exhilarating sense of speed. The game also pays special attention to visual cues and other eye-catching details onscreen. When I was playing through the game for review, I took more screenshots than I had for any other game on the Switch because of all the times I thought “Ooh, that looks cool!” Unfortunately I can’t fit every single image on here, so I had to narrow it down.
I didn’t necessarily feel as strongly for Thumper‘s sound department as I did for the visuals because, although this is a rhythm game, it uses sound effects for its patterns rather than fully-fledged music. Sure there’s an ambiance in the background, but I don’t think people would be playing this game to listen to a masterful soundtrack. It’s more about listening to the beats the sound effects create and then going from there.
Even with that being the case, Thumper is a game from Hell. With all of the intense movements and split-second reactions going on, it will make sure there’s a curve that throws the player off at some point down the road. Thought you learned all of the mechanics? Think again as you careen straight into an unexpected obstacle! To be fair, Thumper does have a genuine challenge at its disposal. The most fun I had was when the game allowed me to not hit every single fret. I got to focus solely on surviving the dangers each level throws at me that way. This applies to most of the game’s levels, thankfully. However, the player is bound to face sequences that require you to hit everything to progress, and in turn, face several instances of blood-boiling trial and error.
Basically, at its best, the game is a blast; at its worst, it can be an endurance test. There’s way more good than bad about its execution, but this a game for the hardcore people that love pain. It’s not unplayable and confusing like Has Been Heroes, but it does have a high difficulty curve that patient gamers with quick reflexes could handle best. If you don’t mind replaying sections due to slipping up once or twice, and if you can deal with the speed, you will be able to enjoy this game fine. Just try not to throw your Switch if you still can’t beat that one level you’ve been stuck on even after you thought you’d memorized it all; consoles and controllers cost a lot of money.