When looking back at some games from my childhood like Earthbound, Final Fantasy 3(6), Mega Man, or Zombies Ate My Neighbors, they all have one thing in common, and that is a killer soundtrack. There are few games these days that hit in the same way, and when they do, it’s a big deal for me. Specifically, I look at titles like Persona 5 or Crypt of the NecroDancer that stick out and stay with you for a long time. I still listen to the vocal tracks by Lyn from the Persona 5 soundtrack daily, and after my time with Popslinger, I may have to add its OST to that playlist.
So it has a great soundtrack, yes, but is the game worth it? Well, let’s find out in this Popslinger review!
The general story of Popslinger is that Ria Carbon has to fight off invaders from another dimension to save her city, chosen by a former Popslinger named Gin. There is this wild anime-like story that plays out with over-the-top bosses and an art style that hits just right. The growth we see out of Ria and Gin coming to terms with their new lot in life is done quite well, while the story only really plays out right before boss fights and in between levels (These scenes are optional with a prompt to hit the minus button after beating a level). It is hard not to immediately click with these characters that feel like they are right out of a late 80’s early 90’s anime. I didn’t notice these supplementary scenes were an option until a few levels in, and I was still quite enjoying the journey our two heroines were going on.
One thing Popslinger goes all-in on is its vibe! The 90’s anime art style, story, and music all feel so in-tune with each other that if any one of those had not done well it would have fallen apart quickly. Thankfully it was crafted with passion, and it hits you in the face hard with its vibe of badass heroines during an invasion with the backing of this amazing music that gets even better as you chain your enemy pops together.
Speaking of the gameplay side of Popslinger, while I think it is the weakest part of the experience, it’s not bad at all. It’s just okay. Normally that would be a big knock against it, but when everything else it swings for hits it out of the park, it makes the faults easier to notice. How it works is you start on this overworld map of the city with several buildings wrapped up with this purple space goo and an X in front of the building/area you need to go to.
Once you’re into the level you get this amazing splash screen showing you an outline of the boss, and then the music starts going. Once that music goes, its game on! You begin with one weapon, a “strawberry” Popper, which is essentially a pistol.
You will come across these interdimensional enemies that only differ by color: purple, red, and yellow. If you’ve played a match-three game, it’s like a built-out version of that, and instead of matching three, you have to match four. Once you match two groups of four without taking any damage, the beat on the backing track for that level picks up and you immediately feel this urge to dance. I know I’ve said this a few different ways already, but this soundtrack rules.
At the end of every level, you fight a boss in what sometimes is a difficult experience and other times is almost laughably easy. After beating the stage’s boss, you get what is an upgrade to your weapon, with the first one being a triple shot, then a rocket launcher, and then it keeps going from there. Once you unlock these, the enemies start to vary up a little bit more, getting bigger or gaining shields where you need to figure out what weapons take take out which shields.
From start to finish, Popslinger is an evolution of a match 4 game with boss fights at the end of its levels, but these bosses aren’t just weird monsters. Each of them have a past with Gin, our former Popslinger, and it makes them feel like fully-realized characters, which really helps the story. Along with the fact that each level is scored, it makes its gameplay feel more arcadey, so anyone who likes to chase high scores will love the replayability of Popslinger.
Overall, Popslinger is a great game! From its story to its art style to its fabulous soundtrack, this is a fun one all the way to the end, even if the gameplay is mediocre.
If 90’s anime and a wild Pop Funk Electronic Soundtrack peaks your interest, you should check Popslinger out. Funky Can Creative has nailed this one, and it has put them on my radar. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Popslinger Switch Review provided by Nintendo Link
Review also found on OpenCritic
Publisher: Funky Can Creative
Developer: Funky Can Creative
Release Date: January 26th, 2022
Price: $14.99, £11.89
Game Size: 2.2 GB
The soundtrack is outstanding
Seriously the soundtrack
The anime styling
The story while minimal hits good
The gameplay can get stale in longer game sessions