Growing up some of the best times I had was gathering at the arcade and playing the classic space-shooter games. As much as people want to believe that those games were simpler and not complicated, they have another thing coming. That is one of the reasons that I enjoy the latest game from Manufacture 43, Pawarumi so much. A challenge for the brain and hands alike, Pawarumi delivers one of the most interesting interpretations of Rock-Paper-Scissors I have ever seen. The game is now available for Nintendo Switch, along with other systems, and we will be taking a look at that version today.
Imagine a futuristic world based on pre-Columbian civilizations. Now take those tribal vibes and mix them up with spaceships and lots of lasers and you have Pawarumi. The challenge begins the moment you boot up the tutorial and start learning how to actually play the game. Like most standard space-shooters, your enemies come at you as you trek across the screen. The presentation here is top-down and your ship flies along unaided by you as the player. You do have control around the screen as many of the ships that attack you cause you to pilot your ship around them and their attacks. Here’s where things get interesting. You have three different weapons which are represented by three separate colors, green, blue and red, and each have their own distinct firing pattern. Green represents the Serpent, which is a rapid-fire, gatling-type laser. Blue is the Condor laser which is one solid, narrow beam that fires directly in front of your ship. Lastly, red is the Jaguar missile cone-shaped barrage. All of these attacks are combined when you build up enough energy to let loose your super attack which decimates everything in your way and is one of the best attacks against the epic bosses you will face.
Let’s talk the Trinity Mechanic, which makes the game both challenging and fun. There are three different effects (Crush, Boost and Drain) that you cause and this is where the rock-paper-scissors aspect comes into play. Depending on which attack you use on a specific color of enemy each does something different. Crush will double the damage you do, Boost will refill your shield and Drain helps to power up your super attack. Trust me when I tell you this is not a game you should be trying to learn if you are not ready to dedicate your brain cells. The learning curve is pretty steep here and it can be a little frustrating at first but trust me it doesn’t take too long until you’re firing like it’s second nature and you’re having a blast!
Both the graphics and soundtrack really impress me. The five 3D worlds that you fly through are beautifully crafted landscapes and range from the desert to snow to industrial. The colors really pop and this is amplified by the enemies that you will face and the laser fire from your ship. One of the interesting things about buying the game for Switch is the ability to change the color of your ship to reflect the color of your Joy Con controller. I love these little bonuses that make playing on different systems unique. I also think that the game works well for the Nintendo system. The game looks gorgeous on the big screen or on the go, which is the best feature of the Switch. The soundtrack is stellar and I can only describe it as Tribal Electro-Metal and it’s a great accompaniment to the game play, getting you in the zone to take out the swarms of enemies headed your way!
Pawarumi is a steal at $14.99 at the Nintendo Online store and I recommend it to anyone who loves the classic space shooters. It is a refreshing take on the genre and provides a challenge that many games are lacking these days. Sometimes I like getting mad at a game and nearly putting it down, only to pick it up seconds later because the challenge of succeeding pulls you right back in. The only thing I would say is that having one life is very tough and maybe having three to start would aid you in your battle, or at least the option to add more if you want. Spend the time in training as it will aid you when you take on the different difficulty levels. Overall this game is a gem in the ever-growing world of indie titles and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a challenging experience whether you are sitting on the couch or commuting to work. Pawarumi will challenge, frustrate and greatly reward your determination to beat the game.
* A copy of Pawarumi was provided for this review