What can I say about Pooplers for the Nintendo Switch family of systems? That, my friends, is a loaded question. Or, more accurately, a loaded diaper.
For a title masterminded by a company called “Art Games Studio”, Pooplers is admittedly not all that artistic. Pooplers is janky, ugly, and dare I say explosive. Not to mention the core concept is a bit, erm...juvenile. Even so, I nearly soiled myself from all the fun I had.
Is Pooplers a diamond in the sewage? Or is just a load of a poop? Read on for more bowel-wrenching puns.
Developer: Art Games Studio
Publisher: Art Games Studio Release date: March 20, 2020
Pooplers offers up a bevy of gameplay flavors, including Pooping, Zombie Defense, and Football (known as soccer to us quirky Americans). To sum it up in four words, I liked ‘em all, but something tells me you crave more detail than that.
As you may have gleaned from promotional material, competitive pooping is the main draw of the game, and it functions more or less like Splatoon for your rear end. Cover as much of the map as possible in your baby’s colored excrement within the time limit to win the match.
If coverage is the win condition, how can you lose? Well, I’m glad you asked. Besides covering up other baby’s poop with your own, you’ll need to keep a watchful eye out for Mother. If she sees you pooping on the ground/floor, she’ll scoop you up and drop you in your crib, where you’ll remain idle until she turns her back.
Since there’s no way to “die”, per se, I think the inclusion of Mother was a smart one. I felt genuine dread every time she would lock onto my path and cut my shenanigans short. I do recall a few instances when she bugged out and left me stuck longer than normal, though.
There are, in fact, ways to circumvent Mother’s rules. A yellow exclamation point indicates that Mother sees you. Simply stop pooping to shake her off you’re scent. A red exclamation point indicates that Mother is chasing you. Sit on one of the potties sprinkled across each map, and you’re home free.
Of course, there’s only so much than can be had in holding the A button and pushing the left analog stick, actions which comprise the vast majority of this mode. The bomb, present, speed, smoke, burger, invisibility, and toy trop powerups go a long way toward upsetting the usual pooping proceedings.
Bombs taint a large area with your color poop. Presents change the other players’ poop to your color. Speed powerups grant you faster movement. Smoke bombs change the color of other players’ poop to yours if they enter the blast zone. Burgers increase the size of your poop trail. Invisibility leaves you undetectable to Mother. Toy traps stall any player who steps into one.
Personally, I found the bomb, burger, and speed powerups the most useful of all the items, but they all have practical applications. One of my friends had trouble figuring out how to utilize items to her advantage, but every else seemed to get it down soon enough.
The pooping mode can be played in one of four ways: Single-Player With Bots, Free-for-All, Team vs. Team, or Parents vs. Kids. Parents vs. Kids is the biggest departure from the base formula in that human players can actually control the parents, sweeping up poop and carrying babies to their cribs.
I quite liked virtually pooping whether I was playing solo or with friends, but it was definitely the most fun in multiplayer. I guess there’s something inherently satisfying in laying waste to (on?) a map. But guess what, buckaroos? This is just the tippy-tip of the gosh darned iceberg.
Next up is Zombie Defense—because what multiplayer title wouldn’t benefit from a zombies mode in a post-Call of Duty: World at War timeline? It’s simple really: Choose a weapon and defend your candy horde from as many zombie waves as possible before supplies run out.
The difficulty curve is gradual, but boy howdy does it grow steep. The highest wave my brothers and I have reached so far is 12. I’m very curious to see if there’s a real ending or if it simply goes on forever. Goodness only knows how crazy things get once you progress further.
Your one line of defense is the piñata that spawns in one of four locations after each wave, which you can swack to regain some lost candy. My party found that splitting up (and thusly expanding the map view) was the best way to locate the piñata. Otherwise, you may miss out on a golden opportunity to survive longer.
Thematically, this play style has the least to do with, you know, poop, but it’s still a wonderful time to be had. It’s decidedly more engaging than the Pooping mode in that it demands so much more thought.
Last but certainly not least is Football. Here, you push around a giant soccer ball into the opposing team’s goal with the intent of scoring the most points before time runs out. Did I mention you can toot? FIFA this is not.
When playing with my friends, this was the mode with which we had the most fun purely due to just how frenetic it was. The gameplay is super simple—and highly physics-based—but that’s far from a bad thing.
All in all, Pooplers provides a giggle-filled gameplay experience no matter how you tackle it. If you don’t much care for pooping, revel in the fact that you can slaughter hordes of zombies or play a pickup game of soccer instead.
Based on what I wrote in the previous section, you’ve probably already assumed a good portion of what Pooplers offers in the content department, but I’d like to elaborate nonetheless.
Like I mentioned earlier, Pooping can be played in Single-Player, Multiplayer, or Parents Vs. Kids varieties. Much to my dismay, Zombies Defense and Football can only be played with other humans, meaning you can’t practice with bots. Perhaps there’s a behind-the-scenes reason for the absence of this feature.
There are 10 maps on which you can play the Pooping and Zombies Defense modes, including Home, Halloween, Apartment, Construction, Farm, Garden, Playground, Underwater, Winter, and Space. All of these lively maps are worth trying at least once.
Football can only be played in one arena, which is kind of a shame. While I know doesn’t really matter anyway, I would’ve greatly appreciated a selection of visually distinct settings in this mode. Playing soccer in the same space over and over is a tad lame.
Did you know you can customize your baby before each match? Yep, and there are a ton of options available. I counted 9 poop/clothing colors, 55 hats, and 32 skin/clothing variations. It’s honestly a staggering degree of variety for a title such as this, and some of the options are fairly flippin’ funny (a “Make Games Great Again” hat comes to mind).
Neat as these options are, I do wish skin pigment, clothing, and hairstyle could be changed independently to enhance the customization experience even further. Having all three locked presets feels limiting, albeit it does speed up the process.
There are also a handful of game options to adjust if you feel so inclined, including Master Volume, Music Volume, SFX Volume, Farts Volume, and Language. I’m sure someone out there will be immensely grateful for the ability to mute toots.
The only other pieces of “content” available are a tutorial (which is more like a digital instruction manual) and credits (which are self-explanatory). I would’ve liked additional extras myself. I can only imagine the potential developer interviews and design documents we’re missing.
But yeah, other than the lack of a single-player option for Zombies Defense and Football, Pooplers provides a pretty palatable plate of content. There could’ve been more, sure—but can ya really complain about what’s here?
Pooplers is a game that certainly can be controlled…just not always that well. At the very least, I can say that the controls are incredibly easy to pick up.
In Pooping mode, you crawl with the left analog stick, poop with the A button, and use items with the X button. In Zombies Defense mode, you move with the left analog and attack with the A button. In Football mode, you move with the left analog stick and toot with the A button.
As you can plainly see, nothing about any one of those control schemes is remotely difficult to comprehend, making Pooplers a wonderful candidate for pick-up-and-play party gaming, even with your most inexperienced companions. Plus, the game displays the controls on the loading screen before every match.
However, the biggest qualm my friend raised is that the babies move too slowly. While I didn’t find this to be too much of a hindrance, I absolutely recognized his concern, especially during the Zombie Defense mode. We occasionally couldn’t reach the piñata in time on account of the babies’ sluggish nature.
Something that stuck out to me was how poorly the hit detection performed in combat. I would feel like I had hit a zombie—but in reality, I had totally missed. I genuinely believe that a great deal of these slipups were on the game’s part, as my friends experienced them, too.
I didn’t notice any glaring issues in the main Pooping mode apart from the rare level geometry I got stuck on seemingly without reason. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, there were some instances in which I was locked out of leaving my crib because Mother wouldn’t move out of the dang way.
Football mode was by far the breeziest the control. What’s the difference, you may ask? Well, given that the gameplay is already so random and silly, little control snafus every now and then can be written off as inconsequential. All you do is waddle about and shove a ball, for goodness’s sake.
The controls function well enough minus a bit of jank. What else can you expect when you’re willingly playing shovelware?
Put frankly, Pooplers isn’t much of a looker, but that doesn’t ruin the rest of the experience. There’s still a fun game underneath the mush.
The polygon count is passable. At this point, I know not to expect anything surpassing PS3-level graphics from lower-budget title like this, because game development is a hugely expensive endeavor. I’m completely willing to accept that Pooplers, of all things, isn’t going to blow my mind.
Can we pause for a sec to talk about the parent models? Because they’re literally the stinkiest thing I’ve ever seen in any game ever. I truly despite their fat noses and lumpy bodies. Fortunately, the only time you ever see them up close is on the character customization screen.
In better news, the resolution and framerate are both very consistent. I don’t know the exact numbers—because goodness knows I don’t have an eye for that sort of stuff—but I didn’t notice any drops in either regard.
I’m conflicted on the overall presentation, though. What I see is a game that had ever opportunity in the world to be funny, bombastic, or just plain strange. What we got instead is something that’s a little too safe, uninspired, or almost boring for my tastes.
Although I enjoy this title, I wholeheartedly believe the developers did only enough to turn heads on the eShop but not nearly enough the channel the energy of similarly odd (but infinitely better) party games like Nippon Marathon. A concept as golden (brown?) as this deserves better.
Ridiculous goofs here and there further contribute to the apparent lack of polish. To name two examples, the wrong button is highlighted on the player select screen, and “candies” is written as “candys” on the Zombies Defense HUD. That’s not even mentioning the lazy hard cuts between different screens.
I guess, at the end of the day, I was just expecting some extra spice out of “the” pooping video game. Art Games Studios could’ve done so much more to position this as a legitimate party offering.
As much as I hate to rag on such a lighthearted game, the sound design has its fair share of highs and lows.
First, a positive: I think the baby sound effects are hilarious. Never have I played a game with so much babbling and crying in my life. Whether you find it annoying or amusing is a matter of personal preference, but man did I ever get a kick out it.
Something else that makes me laugh? Mother. I still chuckle at her voice clips, which are much more akin to that of an exasperated teen than a stern parental figure. “Stop. Stop it!”
Even the zombies’ never-ending groans are somewhat comical, though I’d be lying if I said they weren’t grating after a while. Those dudes are literally all you hear for the entire duration of the mode.
While I enjoy the sound effects, I do wish more work had been done in terms of music. As it stands, there’s hardly any music at all, none of which is particularly memorable. Maybe I’m being too hard on this game. Eh, probably not.
Pooplers presents a fairly decent audio experience that needs some work before I’ll rate it any more highly.
Listen, people, I never said Pooplers was any good. All I’m saying is that it’s one heckuva talking point at parties.
Yeah, Pooplers is obvious shovelware. But if you can find it cheap like I did, there’s literaly no reason to not buy this game. I was more than satisfied with my purchase within 5 minutes. Imagine how much this game will come in handy over the course of my lifetime.