Button City Review (Switch)
Release Date: August 10, 2021
File Size: 429MB
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Arcades feel like a thing of the past. While still present in some larger cities thanks to dedicated fans, the only thing close to arcades that can be found nowadays are through bigger companies such as Swaders or Dave & Busters. Button City brings back feelings of what it felt like to be a child who loved going to their nearby arcade, while also facing the real dilemma of a place of joy potentially closing down for good.
You play as Fennel, a young child who has recently moved to a new place with his mother. However, as he has no friends in this new town, he has stayed cooped up in his room for some time. His mother is finally tired of it and tells him to go out to run an errand for her. And from there, he finds himself getting caught up with a group of kids known as the Fluff Squad at the arcade, Button City. They need one more member on their team in order to compete in the tournament in order to win the Golden Gobabot.
However, things slowly take a turn for the worse as Mr. Buttons, the owner of Button City, seems to be in talks with a suspicious suit-wearing bear. You need to figure out what exactly is going on and how you can put a stop to whatever dastardly plot is underfoot. Along with the main story though, there are quite a few side quests that you can do as well, such as figuring out a conspiracy of aliens and mind control.
Button City is a relatively quick game to get through, lasting about 2-4 hours or so if you play through the main story only. But if you are looking to 100% the game, or even just explore around a bit, that time does go up. Given the price tag of the game, this could end up being a downside. Another downside is that given that this is a narrative game, a good chunk of it will end up with you performing fetch quests, in some cases having to go back and forth multiple times. These moments are low and are obvious when you stumble upon them, but they do exist and end up feeling more like time fillers.
While Button City is labeled as an RPG in the eShop, the game plays out as a narrative adventure game, where you travel around to different locations and perform different tasks for characters. Along with the main story quest, there are a few side quests that you can pick up along the way as well to spend your time completing. And if you end up completing the main story quest before you are able to finish up your side quests, worry not, as the game allows you to go back in and 100% everything after the fact.
As this is a game where you move around a lot, it’s unfortunate that the movement does feel a bit clunky and slow. This can be felt if you need to direct Fennel into tight spaces to interact with an item, or you need to climb up a set of many stairs. The touchscreen functionality does make it easier to be precise though.
The entirety of the town is split up into different zones and you will need to fast travel to get from one place to the other. These zones only have one major building or area, which can open up to new locations, such as the arcade having two main floors that you can traverse. As you explore around, there are many items that you can interact with. Some of these items can give you coins (also known as buttons), which can be used to purchase items. Some of these items can give status boosts or allow you to change your appearance at any point.
There are a variety of minigames that you can play in Button City: a rhythm game, a racing game, and a battle area game. The battle arena game, also known as Gobabots, is the main game that you will play through the majority of your playthrough. The other two minigames are optional and you can play them at any point in time once you’ve gone to the arcade.
The rhythm game, Prisma Beats, makes use of the direction and face buttons, with four lanes as its layout. And unfortunately, while the rest of the game is touchscreen compatible, this rhythm game isn’t. So if you find button controls harder to manage with rhythm games than touchscreen controls, you might run into some difficulty playing the rhythm game.
The racing game, rEVolution Racer, makes use of just two of the face buttons: A to accelerate and B to boost. You gain boost by drifting and if you want to overtake your opponent and keep the lead, you’ll want to build up and use your boost often.
In Gobabots, you will play on a team with three other players who must battle against the other team to put the most berries in the smoothie mixer in the center of the stage. You can collect a variety of gobabots throughout the game via side quests and through the capsule machine. However, you are not able to select a different gobabot during story matches, only during random matches against NPCs across the town. Once you’re in a match, you can move your character anywhere on the map. You’ll see trees with berries growing on them, which you need to attack to gather. You’ll want to take those berries to the middle of the stage and throw them into the blender as quickly as possible, as you’re battling against the clock to get the most amount of berries for your team. And since the enemy team can attack you and your allies (and vice versa), you don’t want to be stockpiling berries on your character and end up dying.
If you do end up dying, you drop all of the berries that you were carrying and end up in a floating bubble, which slowly makes its way back to your spawn point. You can reach the spawn point faster by hitting the button at the right time. If you do take a hit but are able to escape without dying, there are batteries scattered across the stage that can heal you.
Button City uses a low polygon art style with anthropomorphic animals as the characters. The aesthetic choices for Button City are so cute to take in, with its pastel color palette and simplistic yet fun character designs. A lot of the character’s expressions reminded me of Animal Crossing in that they can be quite expressive and cute, in the times where the characters show an expression outside of the default.
The music is very upbeat and funky, with a multitude of different synth sounds to set the mood. There is definitely an 80s feel to the music, with many of the songs giving a synthwave vibe. There are also a few minimalistic tunes as well, keeping the player relaxed but engaged.
The layout of the different levels of Button City is something that I’ve personally never seen done this way and caught my attention. While at first, I was a bit sad about there not being a little town to walk around on a singular level, it does make fast traveling very convenient. It keeps up with the minimalist style of the game and makes it so that there isn’t anything more than what is needed on the screen at one time.
While Button City may not appeal to those who are looking for more RPG than narrative adventure game, it is nonetheless a cute game to play through. With more and more long games coming out, it’s nice to sit back and relax with one that you can finish in a night or two. The story is quite touching, with a band of young kids just wanting to hang out at their favorite arcade and play Gobabots.
The main downside to Button City will probably be the price point vs. the time it takes to complete the game. If price is something that keeps you on the fence, then I would say wait for a sale to pop up. Otherwise, the narrative is charming and the world is vibrant to explore. It’s a game I would definitely say is worth a look at, at the very least.