Title: Overcooked: Special Edition
Available On: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Ghost Town Games
Official Site: https://www.ghosttowngames.com/overcooked/
Release Date: July 27, 2017
Where to Buy: Nintendo Switch eShop
Good multiplayer games generally fall into one of two categories. There are party games, which aim to be fun, lighthearted, and heavy on player interaction. Then there are more challenging games, which emphasize skill, awareness, and decision-making.
I have rarely seen a game merge these two categories as successfully as Overcooked has.
Originally released in August 2016, Overcooked is a cooperative cooking game bursting with charm, chaotic fun, and a surprising amount of challenge. You can read our original review of Overcooked here.
This summer, Overcooked: Special Edition, loaded up with additional content, hit the virtual shelves of the most unique console on the market: the Nintendo Switch.
From the moment players enter the first level, Overcooked is fun at its purest and most concentrated. The controls are simple: push one button to pick up food, another to perform actions like chopping or washing, and a third to dash if you’re in a hurry. Movements are crisp and satisfying.
As they progress through urban, ice, lava, and even space environments, players frantically race around to perform various tasks in order to fill customers’ orders and acquire as many points as possible within the time limit.
Primarily presented as a party game, Overcooked makes itself appealing to casual gamers from the start. Wacky artwork and cute animal characters abound as players dive into the world of the Onion Kingdom.
Much of the game’s initial enjoyment and hilarity comes from new players inevitably failing to keep up with the various kitchen tasks. Stovetops catch on fire, dropped ingredients litter the floor, and inexperienced players can easily throw away completed meals instead of turning them in. These interactions and countless more create a perfect environment for laughter and good times.
Not everyone is a party type of gamer, however. Those who wish to systematically conquer a game with strategy and precision will find that Overcooked satisfies their needs as well. Behind the casual party-game surface lies an extremely well-designed series of challenges.
Players are presented with unique and ever-escalating obstacles throughout the levels, from new recipes to moving kitchens to elemental hazards. New mechanics are introduced fairly and never feel cheap. I was quite impressed by the way the developers were continually able to provide fresh challenges throughout a game with such a simple premise.
All in all, Overcooked is the best blend of party and hardcore appeal in one game that I’ve seen since the 2014 Super Smash Bros. installment. Now that this culinary co-op creation has joined Smash on the Nintendo roster, I believe it’s in the best shape of its life.
Overcooked: Special Edition found its home on the Nintendo Switch this summer in its best version yet. This edition includes the original six-world campaign, two expansion worlds previously released as DLC, a versus mode, and all the advantages of the Switch console, including portability and HD rumble.
The Switch is a perfect fit for this game. Indie games like Overcooked spread best by word of mouth, and what better way to tell someone about a fun game than by pulling the Switch out of your bag and playing it with them then and there?
While a multiplayer game like this is obviously best experienced in TV mode, Overcooked can comfortably be played two-player in tabletop mode as well. Since the controls are minimalistic by design, playing on a single Switch joycon is no problem at all, making it even easier to acquire enough controllers to play at max capacity.
A recent patch for the Switch version thankfully fixed earlier framerate issues and an HD rumble glitch. Free of these issues, Overcooked: Special Edition is quite possibly the definitive version of the game.
Overcooked: Special Edition includes the two expansion worlds previously available as DLC: the holiday-themed Festive Seasoning and the safari-themed Lost Morsel.
As I played through these additional levels, I was astounded by how distinct the challenges continued to be when considered alongside the main campaign. The developers at Ghost Town Games never ran out of fresh ways to push a seasoned (heh heh) player to his limit without falling into a predictable formula.
In the main game, one of the primary tools of level design was spatial restriction. Players must navigate cooking stations with sliding counters that cut off certain sections, then later they encounter a kitchen split between the tops of trucks.
Some levels of the expansion worlds find new ways to incorporate this concept, but some of the hardest abandon it entirely. One of my favorite levels from The Festive Seasoning dumps players in an unrestricted space and forces them to roast holiday turkeys and vegetables by placing them on a winding conveyor belt and blasting a flamethrower. They are free to move to any station, but the challenge now comes from trying to properly heat ingredients without burning others and setting everything aflame.
This is just one example of the constant innovation Ghost Town Games worked into each and every level. The difficulty scales at a nice curve, the obstacles are well-paced, and players hardly ever see the same mechanic back-to-back. When players move past their early bumbling phase and start playing the game with skill, Overcooked: Special Edition is more than ready to keep up with them.
Despite the praise I have heaped on the game to this point, I certainly have a few complaints with Overcooked.
The single player option, while still challenging, is devoid of almost everything that makes Overcooked incredible. Cooperative play is so central to the game that playing solo is downright awkward, not to mention obviously robbed of player-to-player interaction. I could not bring myself to finish even the main campaign without friends.
In addition, while the patch to the special edition improved the framerate, there are still some issues with precision of actions. Characters must be facing exactly the right way in order to pick up the right object, and sometimes it seems that they simply grab the wrong thing anyway.
Despite these shortcomings, every element of Overcooked: Special Edition comes together to produce a unique and intensely satisfying cooperative party game experience. When tested at a deeper level, the game still stands tall.
Verdict: Overcooked: Special Edition is perhaps the pinnacle of cooperative play on the Nintendo Switch to date. The game expertly blends casual and hardcore elements to create a delectable treat that fits the Switch like an oven mitt. The console, breadth of content, and patch improvements make this the defining edition for the game. Despite a weak single player and other shortcomings, Overcooked is worth a look for any type of gamer.
- Hilarious multiplayer fun
- Great fit for Switch
- Charming feel and aesthetics
- Casual-friendly gameplay
- Expert level design
- Loads of content in one place
- Lackluster single player
- Imprecise commands