On September 13, 2015, German indie developer Pixel Maniacs released a cute and colorful first-person puzzle title onto iOS devices called ChromaGun. For the next two years, this title would be ported onto the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Now, almost three years after its initial release, owners of Nintendo’s hybrid handheld console finally get a chance to try out the title that personally reminds me of a Portal/Splatoon mashup.
That being said, this won’t be an official review of the game, and if you want to hear more about the overall game itself, I recommend checking out our review of the PlayStation 4 version as I will be solely covering how this game transition onto the Nintendo Switch.
Any repeat players can expect the same story with no additions, as is common for most ports. Players control a test subject for a massive (and evil) corporation, and the only tool you have is the titular weapon, the ChromaGun — a paintball-type weapon, which can change the color of the walls and WorkerDroids. Instead of using the device to defeat enemies, it is used to solve the various test chamber puzzles.
Visually, ChromaGun looks impressive so long as you are playing on the Switch’s docked mode; unfortunately, I felt the handheld visual resolutions to be a bit of a letdown. Especially when you consider other Switch titles that are older and more technically complex than ChromaGun (for instance L.A. Noire) look a lot better in handheld mode. However, for a title that is over three years old, the graphics have aged very well for a Switch port.
With everything the Nintendo Switch has to offer, many gameplay changes had to be made to ensure that developer Pixel Maniacs was utilizing the Switch’s unique characteristics. With that being said, this game is far from perfect and the transition to the Nintendo Switch ends up feeling a bit sloppy. For instance, one of the most base issues come down to controls. The Nintendo Switch’s analog sticks made it frustrating to aim the ChromaGun. When you factor in the fact that the game’s difficulty gradually increases, it can (and did) result in a lot of rage quitting.
As a quick runaround solution, I would highly suggest that you tweak the sensitivity before you start playing. Finding the right amount of sensitivity for the aiming is going to be a game of trial and error before you can find the proper configuration to accommodate your play style. Nonetheless, it does not excuse the fact that the controls are a pain in the ass to maneuver, even as someone who had played (and enjoyed) the game on other consoles using a controller configuration.
Another (albeit minor) complaint I have with the overall gameplay is the questionable button mapping. ChromaGun‘s controls are mapped the three primary colors to Y, B, and X: Y for yellow, B for red, and X for blue. And this mapping itself is visually unintuitive. Reasonable minds would have assumed that the button mapping would be in order just like the colors on the gun from top to bottom (Blue, Yellow, Red). Like I said, this is a minor complaint from the grand scheme of things, but an option to modify the button layouts certainly would have been appreciated to lessen early-game frustration.
Additionally, something I would like to point out is the lack of Joy-Con motion control support; now if you know me you know I am not a huge fan of motion controls unless the game can properly implement them. That being said, I would have imagined that there would have been an option to play with motion controls. Perhaps in a future patch, this might be added, but the fact that it was not added from day one is baffling because I felt that the motion controls would work great for this game and perhaps added more precision.
Overall, ChromaGun is still a game worth grabbing; in fact, it is one of my favorite indie titles on my Steam account. Unfortunately, despite some unique benefits that the Nintendo Switch offers with its the hardware design, developer Pixel Maniacs doesn’t take any liberties with the title. It feels like just a flat port on less-than-optimal hardware. Not to mention the game is $19.99 on the Nintendo eShop, which is extremely pricey the PC version is slightly more than half of that.