Just in time for the holidays, Outright Games is here with what is a solid choice for younger gamers looking for an accessible platforming adventure with characters they love. Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay is out now for consoles and PCs – here are our thoughts.
Those unfamiliar with Paw Patrol probably don’t have kids in the age range of 2 to 6, and those who do have probably seen the franchise evolve over the last few years – with spin-offs, corresponding toys and even videogames. This actually isn’t even the first Paw Patrol game out there, because Paw Patrol: On a Roll came out two years ago. But while that one was developed by Torus Games (for Outright), this one was crafted by Drakhar Studio.
That’s not the only change, as Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay also feels like it’s an experience that has evolved from the very basic 2D platformer that On A Roll was. The Paw Patrol crew has gone 3D this time, but retains its very simple control scheme so that younger players can still engage with their pups quite easily. As an example, camera control and thus a right thumbstick aren’t really needed here, and most of your actions are mapped to a single button. Special abilities are usually a combination of that single button with a direction on the thumbstick – which is also visualized on screen to help younger players.
That accessibility also translates to the game’s menu structure. It’s very reminiscent of the first game in how you select missions and check on your various collectibles, but because every menu button also comes with a voice sample (by human protagonist Ryder) that explains what it does, it’s mostly easy enough for the non-reading crowd as well. This new game does make things a bit more complex by adding minigames and collectibles to the menu, but mostly because players get sent there every time they complete a mission (rather than going straight to a new mission or at least the mission select screen).
Ryder is unfortunately the only character in the game that is voiced, which means that kids will have to do without the fan service of hearing their favorite pup characters speak. It doesn’t seem to affect their enjoyment any, but it certainly would have been a nice bit of polish. The characters themselves look the part though, as do the various buildings that have been included (such as the Lookout). Oh, and the Mighty Pups version of the theme song has been included this time! If I remember correctly, the original theme song was missing from the first game…
Going back to how the Paw Patrol franchise has evolved for a second, it’s worth pointing out that the “Mighty Pups” are a central part of the game this time. There are the superhero alter egos of all the familiar pups that were introduced at some point, with special abilities to help get them out of a tough spot – and of course a corresponding toy line. While having superheroes seems like it could make things more challenging to control, these moves are actually very easy to pull off and are quite empowering to younger players.
The opening mission tells the story of how the pups got their superpowers (to the delight of the kids, who recognized the setup), but other missions are mostly unrelated mini stories – much like in the first game. Rescue this character, help out someone – it’s the kind of stuff you see in the TV shows and books and a fitting format for the franchise. Each mission has a selection from the cast of pups, and each pup has unique abilities that fit the character. The gameplay loop (collect a few things, fix the core problem) might seem repetitive to older players, but kids will love seeing all their pups take turns in tackling these missions.
Gameplay consists of very straightforward platforming and absolutely no violence at all. There is a ton of stuff to collect though, including pup treats and badges that will unlock collectibles as well as mini-games. These are quite diverse, and even though they feel like simple mobile games it’s nice that the game is so content-rich – unlocking everything will take multiple replays of missions, although a lot of kids won’t even need that excuse to go back again and again. All of the mini-games are inspired by characters and events from the show, so even though voiceovers are lacking there is plenty here for the young fans to enjoy.
Although older players will quickly grow bored of a game like this, there is a wonderful way to still enjoy it – local co-op support. When in single player you can switch between the pups, but in multiplayer each player controls one of them, and it’s enchanting to see how enthusiastic the little ones get about their pup friends working together. An adult will notice you’re not actually working together but more running about doing your own things and completing your character-specific tasks, but a kid will think “Gooooooooo pup team!” while you’re playing, and that’s really all that matters.
Much richer in content than the first game, this is a worthwhile Paw Patrol game for little fans of the show, as well as parents looking for a game to play with their kids who aren’t quite ready for Mario yet. It certainly could have used more polish in terms of the voiceovers and gameplay refinement, but no kid is going to notice.