So the other day a little game called Marooners fell into my lap. It’s made by a developer called M2H and on the face of it the game had cute cartoon-style characters, a catchy little soundtrack and vibrant looking environments. All seemed promising until I realised it was a party game: that’s when I groaned inwardly. Not because I have anything against party games or anything like that, but when it comes to this very specific style it’s difficult not to believe that Mario Party has the absolute monopoly on the genre (being the old dog that he is) and therefore anything that follows ends up looking like a bootleg/knockoff.
Happily the folks at M2H have proved me so wrong and have put on show a brilliant little party game which is destined to be an absolute hit amongst groups of friends. The thing I enjoy about Marooners is that it doesn’t try to be anything other than what it states. It bills itself as a fun party game designed to inflict the most hilarious humiliation amongst friends and that’s exactly what it does. No silly frills, no unnecessary gimmicks, just simple and enjoyable gameplay for everyone. It’s exceptionally refreshing!
My first thoughts after I dove straight into Marooners were, “what in the hell is going on?”. I literally loaded the game, selected an offline game mode without messing with any of the settings, chose the coolest looking of the 4 characters you are granted at the start of the game and readied up. The next 5 minutes were absolute carnage. The game takes it easy on you to begin with as it only loads 2 Bots in for you to pit yourself against. This way it keeps things relatively simple whilst you get a handle on things. Emphasis on the ‘relatively simple’. Now because I hadn’t messed with any of the settings I didn’t actually know what I was in for in terms of gameplay, having the introduction to the level serving as my only source of information. My first level turned out to be an Arena mode battle. Simple stuff. It took me a second to figure out that O was attack and X was jump and that was about all you needed. From then on in it was relatively smooth sailing as I dispatched 2 of the 3 characters playing against me. It wasn’t until I had the 3rd all but beat, about to deliver the finishing blow with my little trident, that the game pulled a complete 180 on me and threw us all into a completely different level! No warning, no heads up, just bam — new level and new objectives. I was flummoxed for a moment, but not wanting to let my peers get too much of a head-start I hurried to catch up until just like before, the level changed again! What was going on? Was this some bug in the game that meant you couldn’t finish a level properly or something?
No, it was in fact all part of the game’s chaotic build-up. Once I was back to the safety of the games lobby I perused the game modes and settings that were available. There are 3 game modes in total: Arena, Party or Any. Arena is a PVP game where the aim is to be the last man standing at the end of each round. Party is the objective-based option where you should complete ttasks and collect as much treasure as you can to win. Any is a frenzied mixture of both game types meaning that you don’t know what you could be doing until the level itself loads. That’s not all as you can also select between Linear or Chaos options for your playing style. Linear allows you to play through the levels until the set task is completed or there aren’t any other players left alive. Chaos, which I found myself thrown into the middle of, means that the levels can be switched out at any given moment in a perpetuating circuit until there is a clear victor. I must say that I found myself leaning towards the Linear option more often than not but in a group situation the Chaos choice delivered the most enjoyable anarchy.
The game boasts 4 characters to begin which then allows players to unlock a further 4 more as they progress through its XP system. Advancing through XP is by no means difficult as I was already level 10 with all characters unlocked after less than an hour’s playtime. This in itself is a bit of an issue with the game as once you’ve unlocked the remaining heroes all there is left to gain as a reward are a plethora of weapons. I find that a little disheartening if after sinking hours upon hours into the game to reach level 25 all you receive is a new sword. But then again I imagine it’s an issue that wouldn’t have been considered when this game was conceived as this is not a game for people who smash a ton of hours into it solely based on what loot they can unlock and XP achievements. It’s simply not built for that. It’s designed to entertain for a period of time and upon that basis you can’t really argue with it.
The levels themselves are brilliantly designed, boasting a vibrant display of colour which instantly makes each visually appealing. Each one is vastly different, generally based upon the elements or a play upon infamous Hollywood tropes. What I did find impressive was the way that the levels changed based upon whether you were playing Arena or Party. Arena levels whilst potentially based in the same location as Party levels were much more intimate in their design and obviously more focussed on the hero’s combat. In comparison the Party levels were often much larger but in no way detracted from the chaos wrought between players attempting to carry out their objective. Pickups that you received in Arena levels were divided between bombs and boxing gloves and that was it. It did make the fighting style in those levels feel a little repetitive as all you had to do was wait for a well-placed bomb or someone stood too close to the edge and you could wipe them out with ease time after time. I like a little more variety with my pick-ups. That said, in Party mode there was also the addition of a magnet which allowed you to attract all the treasure around you and a speed boost which proved invaluable when being chased down by boulders.
This game does exactly what it says on the box. It is without a doubt a “chaotic mix of short minigames in which players can satisfy their thirst for treasure…at the cost of their friends” and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I played this game alongside my girlfriend and took absolute delight in whacking her off the edge of the map just as much as she enjoyed beating me on the final podium by a mere 3 coins. This game is a party game of the most enjoyable calibre and could easily keep people entertained for several hours. Its downside is that it isn’t really a game you can play by yourself although the online multiplayer does allow you to play the exact same game except with people you don’t know. I see this game as a beautiful little call-back to the days of offline multiplayer where you had to go around to your friend’s house if you wanted to play a game with them. It runs smoothly and will keep a grin on your face from start to finish. What more could you want?
- Immensely fun
- Takes you back to the days of old-school multiplayer
- Great replay-ability through interesting level design
- Characters to chose from are too easily unlocked