In the opening minute of Poncho the entire world is caught in flames. Some time later a little robot wearing a poncho wakes up in a lab and your journey to set things right begins. Poncho’s world is now one that is home to only robots and many remaining structures are now overtaken by plant life. There’s some fantastic pixel-art in Poncho and it’s made only better with the use of multiple parallax-layers. The added depth gives the levels so much more detail and in general makes the game far more interesting. Specifically I loved the moment that a flying robot fish, complete with top hat, appeared in the background.
In Poncho the levels wrap around on themselves allowing you to take whichever direction you desire. You can also switch between different parallax-layers to progress, solve puzzles, and find secrets. The ability to switch between layers isn’t entirely new (we’ve seen Mutant Mudds, Kirby Triple Deluxe, and many others do it before), but it does at least make the level design a little more interesting. Unfortunately the layer-switching doesn’t exactly lead to more interesting mechanics. The game mostly relies on platforms that switch between layers on a timer and rarely introduces anything more. It can also just be difficult to tell if there’s a platform in the background that you can land on. The game does a decent job at changing transparency on certain layers to help you see better, but there were many times that I found myself dying because it wasn’t clear if the layer I switched to had a platform or not. Thankfully the game instantly respawns you on the last piece of solid ground you stood on before death.
In each stage you’ll collect gems and solve various platforming puzzles to collect keys. Keys can also be purchased through a robot vendor with any gems that you collect. These keys are then used to bypass gates in each level. As you progress you’ll also be granted a stomp ability to reveal hidden areas and the ability to bring robots back from the dead. Bringing back robots serves as an interesting side objective and introduces you to an important character in the story, but the stomp ability felt really underutilized.
In the later half of the game I ran into a couple segments that involved vertical platforming along shifting-platforms. This became really frustrating as the shifting-platforms tend to shift at different speeds throughout the game, there’s very little room for error, and one wrong jump sends you right back to the beginning. I found myself fighting against these shifting-platforms and at the same time losing interest in the game.
Poncho’s world is colorful, with visual depth and great music that help bring it to life. Unfortunately the platforming doesn’t live up to its potential. The shifting-platforms quickly become tedious and the game relies far too heavily on them. At the same time I found myself enjoying a good chunk of my time with Poncho. It’s still an interesting world to explore and the robots often have thought provoking things to say about the calamity. There’s just not enough to hold that interest throughout the entirety of the game.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Great pixel art
What I Dislike:
- Shifting platforms
- The pound skill rarely gets used