- Release date: October 18th, 2019
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (reviewed on)
- Developer: Gears for Breakfast
- Publisher: Gears for Breakfast, Humble Bundle
- Price: 29.99
- Review Copy: No
Over two years ago, A Hat in Time dropped on PC, and PS4 and Xbox One shortly after. The game was met with positive reviews and loved by fans of classic 3D platformers. With the genre being so synonymous with Nintendo consoles it only begged one question: “Where’s the Switch version?”
It’s here. Two years later and the Switch version is finally here. And there are two questions I’m here to answer: ‘Does the Switch port hold up?’ and ‘Is this game still great two years later’. The answer is yes* and yes!
From a technical standpoint: the Nintendo Switch port runs good enough to get the job done, but it has some notable issues. It runs at 720p and 30fps with some stuttering here and there. It didn’t bother me much but I understand this could be a deal breaker for some people. I’m just not one of them.
It’s also worth noting that for some reason, the art that’s displayed during loading screens at the start of every mission is at a noticeably lower resolution than its native 720p. It’s a real shame because it makes the otherwise beautifully drawn art harder to look at and fully appreciate.
Lastly, A Hat in Time is 16.2GB on Switch. That’s roughly 4 times the size of the PS4 version. I couldn’t tell you why that is either, but I’d recommend getting your hands on a physical copy to save storage space.
Onto the actual game: My first playthrough of the game on PC left me with some overall positive but iffy feelings. I guess it wasn’t quite what I expected? I wanted to give it another chance on Switch to form a stronger opinion on it. So this time around, I’m happy to report that I love love LOVE it!
As I implied earlier, A Hat in Time is a throwback to 3D platformers of yesteryear. From the 3D Mario games, to Banjo-Kazooie, to Psychonauts. It feels like something that could’ve been on the GameCube, and even sprinkles in some Paper Mario and Wind Waker inspiration for good measure. A Hat in Time to the GameCube is what Shovel Knight is to the NES. It wears its influences on its sleeve, combines the ideas of said influences in interesting ways, and has its own ideas to keep it from feeling uninspired.
So how exactly does it accomplish this? Well for starters, A Hat in Time has fun movement. It’s fairly basic and vaguely clunky but it’s just fun enough to mess around with. It follows the Super Mario Sunshine philosophy of giving skilled players enough tools to bail themselves out of a bad situation. Also, using 3D Sonic’s homing attack and Wind Waker’s grappling hook for platforming sections is nothing short of genius.
The game’s hub is a lot like the Comet Observatory from Super Mario Galaxy, but if it was run by a child. It reminds me of all the forts I built with my brothers as a child, and the times my younger self would pretend school playground equipment were spaceships.
As for collectables: there are all sorts of collectables to…well, collect. You have your standard jewel thingies that serve as bread crumbs to guide you towards your goal, balls of yarn to unlock more hats, and Time Pieces, which are like power stars from the 3D Mario games. They all have at least some functioning purpose which makes collecting them all the more fun and rewarding.
Of course we can’t forget what can make or break a platformer: level designs. I’m happy to report A Hat in Time gets that right too. There’s a good balance of linear levels like in Mario Galaxy, and more open levels like in Banjo-Kazooie or Spyro the Dragon. There’s a good balance between creativity, freedom, and compelling challenges. However, it seems to lean towards that last one the least. It has its moments that will bring out the best in you, but they’re few and far between.
Each chapter within the game feels very distinct from the last. Mafia Town is goofy and Delfino esque. Battle of the Birds is creative and uplifting, Subcon forest is spooky with some horrific imagery that makes you understand the game’s T rating. However, Alpine Skyline is my least favorite: It feels open and free but I found myself doing a lot of the same things over and over again and felt like an eternity.
The story is basic, and that’s fine. It would be unfair to dock points over story related shortcomings when I’d never even think about doing that with something like a Mario game. That said, I wish there were more encounters with Mustache Girl, the game’s main antagonist. Much like my articles, the writing can be kind of awkward at times. But unlike my articles, there’s still plenty of charm and humor to make up for it.
And much like the games that inspired A Hat in Time, the voice acting is cheesy. I honestly recommend turning it off, but be sure to turn it back on when you get to Subcon Forest. I say this because Yungtown’s performance as The Snatcher is genuinely good and worth listening to.
A Hat in Time is a great addition to the Nintendo Switch’s library, and feels right at home. The port has its issues, but it’s still in a perfectly playable state and doesn’t stop the game from being such a treat. It’s not only nostalgic because it understands why classic 3D platformers are so good, but because it perfectly captures the spirit of being a child.
A Hat in Time for Nintendo Switch gets a 9/10