Gesundheit! is a little gross, but a lot of fun
Warning: The following review is kind of gross. Not hugely so, but just enough to give you pause. If you’re willing to push past the initial “yuck” factor you’ll find it to be worth reading, because it’s talking about Gesundheit!, a game with the exact same qualities.
Alright, let’s get past this: In Gesundheit! you play as a pig who’s made fun of by the other pigs due to your uncontrollable sneezing. This continues until evil monsters rampage through town and kidnap/eat the other pigs. However, upon sneezing in front of a monster, a giant gob of snot shoots out your nose. The monster looks at this with glee and runs after it and eats it like a treat. You get the notion that this may be of value to you as you set off on an adventure to save your fellow pigs.
Did you make it with your lunch intact? Then it’s clear sailing from here.
Yes, the premise of Gesundheit! is kind of gross, but it only lasts for a couple of levels. After that, you’ll be too engrossed in the gameplay to care about the gross-out factor, even as snot becomes more central to your progress.
Each of the game’s 40 levels is an action/puzzle/stealth game. You’ll need to lure monsters into traps using your snot to defeat them and progress. You’ll need to move carefully and avoid being seen as much as possible to prevent yourself from being eaten. If not, you’ll have to think on your feet as you run for your little piggy life.
Things are, of course, more complicated than this, including various walls that require switch presses (or more likely, snot launched onto them), or teleporters for yourself and your snotballs. Power-ups also play a key factor, including a personal favorite of a grappling-hook effect on snot, or the ability to make super snot balls.
Controlling your pigs is a cinch. There’s never any text for a tutorial, but simple, clear visuals tell you what to do with levels designed to teach you. All you have to do is tap where you want to go, and piggy finds the best, most direct route. To sneeze, you just pull your finger back behind him and release. A targeting arrow will show the trajectory of the resulting snot ball, including ricochet off of walls.
Also in each level are three star fruit to collect. Not only are these good for replay value, but they are key to opening up other levels as gates require a certain number of fruit in order to be unlocked. However, unlike many other games that let you collect stars after defeating all the enemies, these star fruit are more fragile. You or a monster can trample on them, squishing them. Your snot balls can also destroy them, and they all have to be collected before the monsters have been defeated.
Later levels up the challenge, requiring monsters of a certain color to be lured into a like-colored trap, or multiple gates, obstacles and teleporters to be used in quick succession. There are some difficulty spikes here and there, but for the most part Gesundheit! is pretty forgiving, allowing you to skip past a level to try another one before coming back.
The whole slightly-icky experience is wrapped in a beautiful, adorable package. The hand-drawn graphics are gorgeous, full of life and character. The sound effects and music are incredibly cute, from the silly recorder music before each level even to the cries your piggy makes if caught. It’s never cruel, completely PG-rated and always fun and tasteful – well, compared to what it easily could have been.
Though some may be turned off by the premise, most players will be delighted by Gesundheit!. It’s a fun game that offers something different – and not just the gross-out content. Gesundheit! is definitely worth the tissue.