If you happened to grow up in England, you might remember a Japanese game show called Takeshi’s Castle. Over in dear old Blighty, the show was narrated by the wonderful Craig Charles, famous for Red Dwarf, Robot Wars & a brief stint on Coronation Street. There isn’t a single British millennial who doesn’t remember laughing away at the misfortune of others being hit in the faces with gold painted footballs and getting attacked by a man in a kabuki mask.
So with that in mind you can already guess my opinion on Mediatonic’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. When I say the game is like Takeshi’s Castle that’s not to insinuate that this game is derivative or in some way copying the malicious masterpiece that was TC. Fall Guys is unique in it’s beautiful bright colours, adorable characters and costumes and it’s chirpy soundtrack. Fall Guys is definitely its own thing and I use the comparison with love and adoration, not derision.
With that out of the way let’s talk about the game, eh? Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a pretty one-sentence explanation. You are a jelly bean in a fictional game show trying to win the golden crown. You and 59 other jelly beans compete in various mini-games trying to qualify for the next round. Based on how many people start the round dictates how many people can qualify for the next. The first round containing 60 usually leaves 39 spots for jelly beans to vi for. By either the 5th round or when there’s less than 18(-ish) jelly bean contestants left the remaining beans will compete in one final mini-game to decide who goes home a winner. Either by racing up Fall Mountain or by running around a disappearing grid of hexagons until only one jelly bean remains.
There are two types of mini-games in Fall Guys; team or solo games. Some games have team and solo variants that feature a different map to compete on. Personally, I’m not a fan of the team games because the current issue in the game overall is that two teams will pull ahead and then both team up to bully the losing team. You as one bean of many don’t really have much of an impact on your team’s success simply because the games are over in around two minutes and you have literally no way to coordinate other than hopes and prayers.
As an example, there is a mini-game called ‘Tail Tag’ wherein the team variant you have to keep your tail (or steal one) for as long as possible and whichever two teams have the most tails by the end get to qualify for the next round. In one particular round, I had a tail for about 90% of the round, if someone stole mine I would get another a few seconds later. However, my team still lost and thus I was booted from the competition. It’s a little aggravating for you to perform your absolute best and still not get to progress.
It also does feel like a little bit of padding for the mini-game list. See Fall Guys says it has around 30-ish mini-games when in reality it’s about 18 since a lot of those extra games are just team versions of already existing games. Personally, I would rather have another 12 different games to compete in than just see a duplicate where I’m less likely to win simply for being part of a team. (I swear I’m not salty about that one tail tag game).
In terms of mini-game variety, it’s what should be expected for the launch of the game. Especially when you consider the fact that developer Mediatonic have only developed two other games, a Gears of War Funko POP! mobile game and a visual novel/puzzle game. However, when compared to other mini-game based behemoths like Mario Party it does feel a little lacklustre. The game itself is in a bit of a tough spot. As a game where you play with friends for an hour, it’s not too bad but the game encourages you to play for large stints of time in order to progress your experience bar and gain unlocks. At which point you might start to feel like it’s getting repetitive. Even Mario Party a game with 84 mini-games is only intended to be played for an hour tops.
Artistically and graphically is where this game shines. The design of the jelly bean characters is near flawless and perfectly encapsulates the core philosophy and vibe of Fall Guys, they remind you of Weebles from when you were a child. Except they DO fall down and frequently. Everything around you is bright colours and marshmallow clouds. The giant plush fruit that is fired at you from on high look ridiculously comfy and you wouldn’t mind if one was rolling down a hill towards you. The whole game really does the game show vibe perfectly. Putting aside the falling from massive heights thing, everything LOOKS like it belongs on the set of Wipe-Out or Takeshi’s Castle. It’s all soft surfaces and slippery goo.
I know it probably seems like I’ve been a little harsh in some places about this game but overall I adore this game. It’s adorable, it controls as smooth as pink slime and it’s incredibly gratifying to get good at. Your first golden crown will have you whooping and cheering so much that your neighbours will bang on your walls telling you to shut up. For the low price of £15.99, this game is a delightful treat and even more-so with your friends.
My only big complaint about the game as of now is that the game features an in-game currency that can be purchased for real money but there is absolutely no reason to buy it. You can earn it so fast just by playing the game and there aren’t enough things available in the in-game shop at any one time for you to even worry about running out of currency. I’ve played for just about 7 hours and I’m already sitting on enough currency to buy anything that takes my fancy and earn it back within another hour or so.
Fall Guys is currently available on PS4 and Steam and is absolutely worth the dosh, especially if you have a friend or two to compete with. Honestly, the only thing missing right now is a Switch port. But I’m a patient jelly bean.