Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), 3DS, Android, iOS
Developer: hap Inc.
Release: 21st December 2017 (Switch, 3DS)
Price: Free (Android, iOS), 4.99 (eSHOP)
Oh the glorious childhood, when we could play video games for hours without end, only interrupted by our parents and most importantly, the mother. Mom Hid My Game! is basically a simulation of this exact time, mixed with a giant chunk of weirdness. Ported from mobile where it released in February, it´s certainly an interesting addition to the Switch catalogue.
As already said, Mom Hid My Game! is around a young boy who´s evil mother hid his game (console)! However as usual with japanese versions, the beloved game isn´t hidden under a pillow, there´s a reason elephants or other animals live in their house after all.
This absurdity is its biggest feature and slowly evolves throughout the 2-3 hours long game. Divided into 50 days or puzzles, Mom Hid My Game! steadily evolves into an absolutely weird journey in one of the world´s most interesting house. Having to feed elephants so they shit out the console, popping bike tires in order to stop them from blocking the way or winning a marathon to stand high enough to grab the game, these are only a few riddles which can be encountered and none of them resemble a normal life.
The minimalistic, crude character drawings, often lacking any kind of “professional” style harmonise perfectly with the already strange atmosphere. Underlined by very mediocre screams, snakes seemingly voiced by children and an obsession with the colour blue, help the game to stand out in an even stranger way. Objectively it doesn´t looks great, relies too much on a few portraits or frames, while having no real production value. Yet, all these things come together in such a fitting way, that it´s almost impossible to not laugh, joke and ultimately love the style of it.
Gameplay-wise Mom Hid My Game! isn´t nearly as surprising, being a simple little puzzler ported from mobile platforms. With every level taking around 2-3 minutes at max, they consist of 1-2 rooms and a few items. Finding the scattered items, figuring out what to do and ultimately executing it isn´t particularly hard, despite the regular trolls of the game. For example, having to wait until the seemingly real bomb explodes and reveals the game, instead of extinguishing the fire. While none of them are really hard, mostly solving themselves as soon as all items are found, trial and error becomes a regular companion during later parts.
For example, in order to figure out how to help a golf player win his tournament by returning his ball, it´s necessary to first see what happens when he shoots, before figuring out windows can be opened in this level. Having to think around the corner once the seemingly easy solution doesn´t work is probably the greatest thing about the design.
Unfortunately, since being caught plays a little animation, presents a game over screen and then letting the game reload the whole level, takes around 5 additional seconds everytime, rather than just quick re-starting in a second, the required trial and error quickly becomes annoying. Having to wait so long without any particular reason isn´t all that fun to be honest.
Mom Hid My Game! doesn´t do a great job at actually balancing its difficulty curve as well. The beginning is fairly simple and up until the first half the puzzles steadily grow in challenge and weirdness. Yet, especially during the last few dozens, a few riddles are so easy and unsurprising, sometimes even copied from earlier, that the way to the end actually leaves some kind of weird taste.
The idea of having a game around finding the lost game console, hidden away by the evil mother sounds weird and plays just as absurd. Nonetheless, the strange presentation, minimalistic visuals and weird premise are probably the best thing besides the trolling puzzle design. Even though the sometimes uneven difficulty or too long breaks may drag the experience down, it´s still a damn fun puzzler. Although some may say there´s no reason to get Mom Hid My Game! for 4.99 on Switch if you could just grab it for free on your phone but due to the additional work required to revamp the UI, add Joy-Con controls and getting it to run, can justify the tiny price tag to a certain degree and shouldn´t let you want to miss it.
[A Review Code was provided by KEMCO]