HAL Laboratory has a long history of developing adorable games so here's a new Switch title that offers a cute and simple formula.
Part Time UFO tells the story of a little UFO chum who finds his way to planet Earth and while it's there, folks immediately put it to work seeing as it's equipped with a super-helpful and impressively versatile claw. However, humankind thankfully isn't taking advantage of the fellow because they eagerly pay it for each successfully completed job. This ties directly into the gameplay as all you do is select from an array of available jobs in a magazine which act as the campaign's stages. You'll do things like make salads, put toys back in their box, and help a fisherman. Although the core gameplay is so simple, the stages manage to feel different as they pose various restrictions, rules, and challenges which help mix up the gameplay. The result is a delightfully intuitive and simple formula that the whole family can enjoy.
The first thing that struck me as great about Part Time UFO is its presentational qualities. For starters, the visuals are absolutely excellent complete with animated foregrounds and backgrounds that feature oodles of silly characters and objects that actually react to how well or poorly you're performing. The graphical style is minimal with a simple art style and basic faded colours and it all works together to make a lighthearted and often humorous world. On top of this, there's a super-catchy soundtrack that features whistling and some singing. However, the main tune repeats a bit too often which makes it get fairly repetitive after a while. Even though it's catchy, I found myself turning the volume down after about 15 minutes. Oh, and I should mention that the UFO itself is downright adorable.
Progressing within Part Time UFO's campaign involves mastering side-challenges in each stage which grants you medals upon completion. These challenges are shown via icons and it's your job to figure out what they mean. For example, a picture of a bunch of different fish translates to "catch only unique fish to master this challenge". Therefore, figuring out what's required is a big part of the fun. Anyway, earning medals is necessary to unlock further groups of levels and you can earn up to 3 on each stage. On top of this, you amass a wealth of currency as you play and re-play jobs that can be exchanged for cute costumes that actually provide certain boosts and abilities. Experimenting with these is an impressive amount of fun, especially when you find something that clicks with your play style.
Although it seems like Part Time UFO is a single player game, you can play it cooperatively with a friend and doing so is handled exceptionally well as completing jobs with a friend makes them all the more rewarding. Speaking of rewarding, there's a collection of achievements to unlock as you play called Feats of Glory. Whenever you achieve 4 in a square, you unlock a cute little scene as a nice bonus. You'll also unlock a couple of extra modes including the Tower of Infinity where you stack things as high as you can and Treasure Hunt where you master puzzles to claim treasure. There's a lot to do so get to work and have a lot of fun while you're at it!
With all of that being said, Part Time UFO is still an incredibly simple game at its core and I often felt like it could use more mechanics to help flesh out its gameplay premise. Another aspect that contributes to the lack of variety is the fact that there really aren't that many environments. Multiple stages take place within the exact same scenarios albeit with small distinctions so I wish that every level was wholly unique. In other words, a lot more work could have been done to flesh out both the gameplay and world of Part Time UFO.
Part Time UFO is the best game I've ever played where you control an alien ship while completing mundane tasks. Okay, that didn't sound like a glowing endorsement but it is a cool little game and it's even more fun when you play it with a chum.
- + Simple gameplay with rewarding challenges and fun costumes to collect
- + Fantastic visuals and catchy music
- + Co-op is enjoyable and handled well
- - Core gameplay is a bit too basic and could use additional mechanics
- - Music repeats far too often
- - Not enough stage environments