When a party game is done right it can be spectacular, especially on a platform where two controllers come as standard but Save Your Nuts has a lot of competition.
Save Your Nuts, from Montreal based studio Triple Scale games, is a pretty simple idea for a game; the squirrels have had enough of other animals lording it over them and want to show their superiority, so challenge other animals to a series of games that all involve nuts (who said squirrels have a one track mind?).
The game consists of several modes, with the first being a Capture The Flag style game, obviously entitled Capture the Nut, which involves taking a nut that falls randomly somewhere in the middle of a level and getting it back to your base. It’s pretty basic which makes it easy to learn but with some interesting scenery and mechanics that help spice it up a little, such as an alligator who will try to eat you if the acorn gets booted out to the lake or a battle on a football pitch which turns the nut into a ball with your base as a goalpost.
You can fight other players with a tackle, very much like a basic football game, or grab pickups to help boost strength and speed, but games are often over very quickly as the static levels are all pretty small and easy to traverse. That doesn’t stop the AI, if you’re playing with bots, from getting stuck on the scenery occasionally, though, on the more intricate levels such as the pirate ship.
The Battle mode sounded promising at first, you have three balloons each and the idea is to pop your enemy’s balloons by attacking them. However, the graphics and smaller levels just make this a bit of a messy free-for-all where button mashing often wins by sheer luck. I would have liked to see more obstacles and platforms within this level. It’s certainly no match for Smash Bros.
The final mode is Thieves, which takes the steal the nut formula and adds 5 nuts which can be stolen back from the other team, meaning that games go on for far longer. The only issue here that you need to dig up the enemies stolen nuts and it takes far too long, so you can get caught while doing it. Given bigger levels I could see this working better but in the single screen levels, particularly with multiple human players on screen, it just doesn’t work well enough.
Graphically, the game is a bit of a mixed bag. The cell shading style does mean that it’s a little more forgiving overall in terms of the lack of detail and the colourful backgrounds for the levels are nice but the character models on Switch are fairly ugly and mash too much with the scenery at times, especially when you have more than 4 players on screen in one place.
Online games are fairly simple to set up but at the time of writing suffer from a lack of people around to play against. It’s still a good option for those on Switch Lite who have friends or family that also have a copy of the game, but it will really depend on whether the servers fill up. As such, I was unable to tell how well the game holds up with 4 players all playing online rather than couch based multiplayer.
Save Your Nuts has a good concept, some nice ideas and fairly good level design but the overall lack of polish, small levels and lack of detail in the characters do let it down.