Review: Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets (Switch)

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Yeah, and here’s Rule #1: NEVER take a job as an intern for a scientist collecting cute and deadly as hell animals to sell to the highest bidder.

lupo switchBefore you fire up BeautiFun’s challenging and amusingly droll puzzle/adventure Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets ($14.99), do yourself a big favor and let the game run a few minutes on the title screen without touching any buttons. Why? Well, you’ll get a really cool bit of fun narrative text that adds to the game’s plot, a really nice touch you’ll miss out on if you just start the game when prompted.That text actually changes when you go to continue a game, so make sure to see those bits as well when you pop back in after quitting for the day. This is the sort of thing I really like where you see that little bit of extra care that goes into some games which makes them overall a lot more enjoyable.

That same care went into the control options although in my opinion, using the Switch’s touch screen is going to be the best way to play this, followed by a Pro Controller or similar wireless or wired pad. Using the Joy-Cons (particularly ones that aren’t exactly new) is a bit of tricky business what with their tendency to sometimes drift up or down sporadically, which will mean certain death in a game where precision is key to survival. That’s not BeautiFun’s fault at all, mind you  they just had to cater to every possible control scheme and for the most part, it works. I ended up switching between touchscreen and my Ematic controllers and he touchscreen, settling for the tap and move option because it made for less dying overall.

So does the story here, by the way. That Professor Lupo is holding an illegal auction aboard his space station where a number of deadly aliens are up for bid for potential use as biological weapons when the ship is attacked by a justice-minded organization who want to shut him down but good. Unfortunately, your character, simply named “Intern” gets caught up in the chaos and yep, needs to escape over 100 levels of increasing difficulty courtesy of some very excellently designed puzzles. There’s actually a lot of plot under the hood here and it’s in interesting journey our too-generically named hero takes, to say the least. Most assuredly, that Intern will expire quite a lot (in a splash of G-rated green goo) as you seek to survive and discover a few truths. Interestingly enough, with a few tweaks to the plot (and  a bit of M-rated gore), this could be a ALIEN game or that Jurassic Park sequel I only caught part of on cable where deadly dinos were up for bid and things went south once those creatures were set free.

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“It followed me home, can I keep it?” Well, NO. It’ll eat your face off as soon as you go to sleep, pal.

The game uses a simple, clean TV cartoon style which works well for the most part, with appropriately solid voice acting for each character. You have to appreciate that the Doc sounds intentionally pompous and demanding, our Intern sounds well, like an intern (he gets a change-up into a more assured character as things play out), while the supporting cast do very well with their parts. The assorted Horrible Pets look great and are excellently designed to be cute as all get out, but terrifying once you see what they can do in motion. Most puzzles will have you trying to escape multiple creatures and initially, the game can be really daunting when you get stuck in a map with seemingly no means of escape. But as you discover more info about the Pets, you’ll see that they all have a particular weakness in their movement or other behavior patterns that will allow you to use that to your advantage.

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Um… RUN. Wait, there’s no run button here? Halp!

In fact, provided you don’t cheat by watching gameplay videos of the puzzles being solved, expect to be headed back into previous maps to either collect those bonus objective items (many of which seem impossible to nab) or simply beat your older times. The replay value is high here, especially if you want to go in to try some other solutions to a few of the puzzles. That aid, there are a few bits where the game throws you into trouble and you’ll likely die a few times while trying to think through what to do next. Yeah, I’m looking at YOU, boss battles. Those will be a bane as they require perfection in response time with little to no margin for error.

While the game looks fine overall, a few design quirks make it a bit busy on the eyes. I’d have preferred a simpler method for identifying color key areas, more or less like DOOM or some other games where you can see what needs to be done or activated with less on screen. Granted, I can see why this current means exists (frankly, a LOT of less skilled gamers need those big arrows and such coaxing them to success), That said, a patch to turn them off or change the visuals is something I hope the developer considers. Eh, maybe it’s just my old man griping acting up. Pay me no mind… but you kids better get the hell off my lawn, OR ELSE.

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“You’re not the boss of me!” Oh, actually… it is, and for a while, will be. You’ll see. That’s five cents for the unintentional poem, by the way.

The game is a fairly lengthy one, clocking in at around a dozen hours or so (more if you’re like me: really bad but persistent at completing it). You won’t break a controller playing it unless you happen to like throwing around expensive controllers only to realize that the solution to a puzzle you were stuck on was thanks to misinterpreting a Pet’s movement and.or action range (oops). As noted above, once you see how things work, you’ll be dipping back into maps just to get stuff you missed and those better times, so this won’t be a “one and done” deal for puzzle fans who get into this and really like it. Hopefully, BeautiFun’s got plans to do something like a sequel… although a turn-based strategic RPG might also be an idea to consider. Heck, it would certainly be something the Pokemon fans out there might like as an alternative.

Anyway, go get this and take it for a spin if you’re up to the challenge. Your brain will certainly get more of a workout than your fingers will, but that’s a good thing in this case.

Score: B (80%)

-GW

-Review code provided by the publisher

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