HomeVideo GamesGAME REVIEW | "PopSlinger" Has Flare, Lacks Original Beat

GAME REVIEW | "PopSlinger" Has Flare, Lacks Original Beat

GAME REVIEW | "PopSlinger" Has Flare, Lacks Original Beat

Sometimes I can be a sucker for retro-inspired video games. But there in lies the problem: me being a sucker means I’ll be tricked into playing a game that only looks cool. In actuality, half of the time, video games that have a killer look will sadly deliver a hollow experience. Unfortunately, that’s what Funky Can Creative’s PopSlinger have delivered.

Inspired by classic anime, PopSlinger has you taking control of Ria, a spunky twenty-something who is tasked to save the world. With the aid of former heroine Gin, Ria is given soda-powered guns that will take out alien forces that stand in their way. As they fight through each level, Ria and Gin will have to deal with “Corazones”, who are normal folks with corrupted hearts.

As the game goes on, Ria will earn new weaponry, ranging from multi-shooters to bazookas. However, just because you get a better gun doesn’t mean it’ll be effective against every alien. The more closer you get to the truth, the harder the enemies become. Because of this, one will need to quickly switch between weapons and dodge out of the way from any enemy attack.

On the surface, there’s a lot that’s pretty cool about PopSlinger. The soundtrack is incredibly catchy, as it captures the sound of future funk, city pop, and other genres that stay true to the 80s/90s vibe. Visually, the game’s characters bring to mind the works of Korean artist RDR, who also shares a similar taste in the retro vibe. Even its narrative — although very paint-by-numbers — is entertaining thanks to the personalities of Ria and Gin.

Alas, despite it looking and sounding rad, the gameplay itself is anything but. Its side-scroller shoot ‘em-up style at first has some charm to it, but it rarely does anything unique with its gameplay. All you do is shoot stuff and move, with never any real change-up with the gameplay style. I understand that most games in this genre are pretty much like this, which is why the addition of something unique is so important to making a game like this stand out!

Okay, so perhaps that’s a bit harsh. PopSlinger does have some kind of uniqueness to it, in the form of its power-ups. By attacking four enemies of the same color in a row, you’ll be able to initiate a power like shield, turret, and the occasional heal. These moments do come in handy during wave battles, especially when so many enemies come at you at once.

However, it’s very difficult to keep a color streak going. Plus, if Ria gets hit even once, the streak is wiped off the board, forcing you to start from scratch. Even when you initiate the power-up, it only takes one or two hits before you lose said advantage. So not only is it difficult to get a power-up, but keeping it intact is also a giant pain!

Worse is how levels are set up. Although each place Ria and Gin is somewhat short, the length of wave battles and the quantity of enemies makes it feel a lot longer. The fact that there are no checkpoints makes it all the more frustrating, as it’s very easy to lose your life and start all the way at the beginning. And this is one game that doesn’t feel rewarding one bit when you have to reconfigure your strategy.

Perhaps that’s the biggest problem with PopSlinger: its inability to properly make a strategy. Because switching weapons and evading enemies takes a long time to initiate, it can make gamers feel very disjointed. While I appreciate it when a video game likes to challenge its players, I don’t like it when they go so far as to make things feel impossible to conquer. That sort of mechanic makes a game not as fun as it could’ve been, which unfortunately happens a lot in PopSlinger.

PROS:

  • Great soundtrack
  • Retro-styled visuals
  • Fun story

CONS:

  • Gameplay is too difficult
  • Controls can be slow to respond
  • No checkpoints

FINAL THOUGHTS:

PopSlinger looks and sounds great. However, its the actual gameplay that’s the issue. More frustrating than fun, PopSlinger has the personality of a bottle of soda that’s been opened and unrefrigerated for over a weak. Sure, it tastes fine, but its flatness can be a big turnoff.

FINAL GRADE:

Promotional consideration provided by Kaylah Humphrey of Stride PR. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)