20th Feb2019

‘LOVE’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

love-screen

Released on Valentine’s Day, LOVE is an 8-bit styled retro platformer with stripped-back controls that put gameplay to the fore, eschewing pretty much all else.

With an almost Atari 2600 colour palette, LOVE is a more accessible game than titles such as Super Meat Boy, whilst having that same vibe that any errors made are through your own fault and not via poor game design, Love therefore captures that wonderful sense of self-directed infuriation that is a hallmark of the genre and makes you grit your teeth for another ‘one more go…I can do this’. Good!

Making your way through the stages (15 in Arcade mode although there are other levels available in the other modes) the levels are laid out in a 2D style featuring your character as a stick man (who runs with his arms trailing behind him, which tickled me) leaping across crevasses and over / through obstacles with the only assistance being the infinite checkpoints that you can spawn wherever you please in order to continue upon your inevitable death. In the standard arcade mode you have 100 lives which drop much faster than you realise on the trickier bits in later levels.

As you make your way through the brightly coloured areas, you’ll have the audio companionship of ambient electronic music which, whilst oddly well-suited to the tense leaps (in a sweet & sour sort of way), does re-use tracks which is a shame as a unique sound track for each stage would help give them character.

The stages themselves are fun, from the initial, basic ‘jump over a gap’ game play to the later levels which feature various moving parts and sections which require careful timing, although brief, were all a blast to play through but there are some issues which really affected my experience and seemed a shame as the game is so sparse.

The first is that the screen scrolling isn’t smooth at all; the (purposefully) garish colours and chunky sprites aren’t helped by a jagged fashion of scrolling which kind of made my eyes ache after a while and made some moments more troublesome than they needed to be. I also came across a few infinite death loops which ruined entire runs for me; again, it felt like a cheap trick.

LOVE is a pretty barebones game that is fun for short bursts but has some design choices that let it down. The amount of modes on offer, from the Arcade mode to Endless mode and even a Speed Run mode are nice inclusions but the game would really benefit from smoother scrolling and a few more background tracks. As a budget title, I did enjoy my time with LOVE, especially the ramping difficulty, minimalistic approach, tight controls and cool music, it strikes me as a game that people would finish in a couple of hours but maybe not come back to unless they want to have a crack and breaking their own speed run records, still, a fun platforming diversion, especially for lovers of early platform games.

LOVE is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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