Released January 26, 2022
Life can’t be any cooler than PopSlinger, but just how far this arcade style musical shooter by Funky Can Creative goes depends on how good you are with a gun powered by soda. Part of the design is wickedly inspired by 90s anime and its design celebrates this era with amusing nods to Blockbuster, Tower Records and K.B. Toys. The soundtrack is funky enough to enjoy, and it reacts to your in-game performance. This concept helps players stay invested.
Here, you play Ria Carbon who is out to save the world. The intruders from another dimension turn their victims into Corazones and it’s up to you to wash them down. They look like sludge creatures rather than space invaders, and perhaps the idea is in line with how they can be defeated, with soda! The weapons powered by carbon are a strange piece of tech to deploy, and in-game, the theory is that you’re melting your enemy down so they can wash down the sewer. When you have shot down enough of them, your spirit guide(s) are able to manifest to help! One of them is a former pop slinger who goes by the name of Gin and she’s perhaps the most helpful.
In another aspect, the 2D landscape is not as easy to travel around in. You can’t go backwards (which is a problem) or easily point the joystick in the direction you want to dodge enemy fire. They come at you straight or angled. Nailing the aliens isn’t easy as your weapon’s range is very short. You have to get close to nail the one or two nasties; after that, if there’s more, you better be quick to shoot, dodge and roll to one side. The latter isn’t available, but I wish I could!
Popslinger is better with an arcade fight stick rather than the Nintendo Switch’s joy con. Both are similar where neither offers an advantage. The goal is to nail targets in a specific coloured order for those heals, power-ups and conjuring of help. Both are required for the boss battles and advancing to the tougher levels. As I battled one, I saw no power bar to know how weakened it was. It felt like forever to defeat it.
Once you’re hurt, you lose one of three bars of health. Without a manual or in-game information about where to find first-aid kits, I was at a loss. This game is like Mario where tons of practice is required. I wanted to unlock the ‘Dream Time’ but to kill enough enemies in a specific order in a one-way world wasn’t achievable during my runs. Here, mastering dodging is required to progress in this game. Or, for casuals like me, perhaps having a level of difficulty switch is better.
Hopefully a patch is coming, so I can keep trying rather than give up.