Puffle Launch may launch your blood pressure into unsafe territory
Are you the type of gamer who enjoys a punishing challenge – an something unfair that borders on masochism? Great, Disney’s got the game for you. Puffle Launch may look and sound like a cute, cuddly app fit for short bursts of casual fun on the go, but it’s a blistering physics romp that may send you into temporary bouts of Tourette syndrome.
Scare you off yet? No? Well, then, perhaps you’re one of the few, the proud, the fearlessly tenacious gamers Puffle Launch was designed for. The game presents players with a rather simple task: tap the screen to launch your Evel Knievel-esque Puffle through a series of obstacles and launch devices in order to collect Puffle Os and ultimately reach a fiery Puffle Ring at the end of each level. Completing each mission, however, is anything but easy.
From the very outset, Puffle Launch reveals its true challenge, and though the concept is straightforward throughout, the level design, matched with bouncy physics, leads to intense frustration. That being said, Puffle Launch also borders on true greatness, offering fleeting moments of bliss.
Without a doubt, Puffle Launch gets most of its inspiration from Sonic The Hedgehog; it’s fast-paced action, and like Sonic, there’s ample trial and error. Level transitions often must be negotiated blindly, meaning you’ll be playing through various areas of a given level repeatedly. Additionally, the timing for moving obstacles often makes it nearly impossible to pass without dying many times before eventually moving forward out of sheer luck.
When Puffle Launch hits its groove, though, it’s an endorphin celebration. Blazing from launcher to launcher, trailing through Puffle Os at lightning speed – it’s a total blast. The game also tosses in new mechanics at a sensible pace, adding the ability to nudge your Puffle in different directions, as well as sling it across the screen.
Unfortunately movement of your Puffle is a bit too sensitive when paired with the game’s physics and speed. Trying to get your Puffle to line up with bouncy objects and such can be infuriatingly difficult, and having two big thumbs obscuring the view doesn’t help much either.
As a Disney production, it’s no surprise that Puffle Launch comes wrapped in attractive packaging. The visuals are playful, with an art style similar to Team17’s Worms series. The frame rate is smooth, and though there isn’t much variety in terms of scenery, it’s a great-looking game for the price. The music and sound effects make a lovely match for the game’s lighthearted premise.
In spite of my (great) frustration with the game, there is some part of me that fell head over heels for Puffle Launch. The game can feel abusive at times. Controlling your Puffle almost feels broken. But it’s fun. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s a crazy game. The monetary cost of entry is dirt cheap, but the investment of patience is steep. If you think you have the emotional stamina to take on its challenge, Puffle Launch is a wild ride well worth checking out.