Space Tail Switch Review – Bea, the Canine Cosmonaut
November 3rd is an important date, and Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home recognizes this wonderfully. On this day 65 years ago, the first dog to go to space, Laika, left the Earth’s atmosphere to infinity and beyond. Although today is not November 3rd, that is when this indie title dropped on the Nintendo Switch.
So is Space Tail a journey that truly leads home? Or is this space pup doomed to stay in space forever? Let’s find out!
Space Tail follows a doggie named Bea, and she was a lonely dog until one day she was seemingly adopted and brought to a facility. Her owner, a young boy, was constantly excited to play with Bea and watch her progress through her training.
Unfortunately, Bea’s training led to her going to space with a robot named 808BY, and Bea immediately feels isolated and alone once more. This is a sad tale of a doggie put into a position where she had no say due to her being an animal, and she ends up in the very place she was before being adopted. There is a strong sense of heartbreak, and that is understandable right from the start.
The story is an interesting one that gives us a little perspective through the eyes (And nose) of a doggie going to space. Although Bea crash lands on an alien planet, she still has 808BY to keep her company and a whole new world to explore. It is a simple narrative, but it is an interesting one that keeps you engaged throughout.
Gameplay in Space Tail is a mixed bag. First of all, there is a lot going on, and I find the mechanics to be both unique and fun as well as a bit complicated and annoying. You see, Bea is a dog, so the mechanics center around that, meaning that you have heightened senses, particularly hearing, sight, and smell in Space Tails. All three of these are used regularly to feel out the world a little better, but at the same time, I often found myself forgetting about these senses and missing opportunities because of the other situations.
Major mechanic two is that Bea is able to “communicate” with aliens on the planet through the use of a wheel of actions that allow Bea to bark, jump, wag tail, growl, etc en route to winning favor. Well, this is probably the worst mechanic in the game, because it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. You use an action, any action, and a point on the alien’s reaction wheel will move to a reaction based on the one you choose. You have to randomly figure out which action helps to make them react in a way that benefits you, so that they ultimately cooperate with you. I understand why this was implemented, but unfortunately it is much more annoying than it is fun.
Finally, platforming is the main means of gameplay in Space Tail. You can jump, crawl, bark, and squeeze your way through tight places. For the most part, these controls are solid, but I do find that the jumping can be a bit janky at times. Thankfully, there is not a whole lot of precision platforming, but when there are those segments, that is when the jumping is frustrating. It is a bit floaty and clunky at the same time, and I much more prefer the sections where the platforming is casual.
There are other elements to the gameplay, as well as items and enemies to keep an eye out for. Unfortunately, Bea is not combat-ready, so enemies need to be avoided or Bea needs to use her surroundings somehow to take them out, like dropping a rock on them. Honestly, considering the passive nature of the game for the most part, it does feel odd to have strong enemies that can take you out easily without a whole lot of means to protect or defend yourself. 808BY does provide some assistance, but it is quite minimal.
Space Tail does look quite amazing, though. The art direction is nice, and the wide range of colors really makes the world stand out. Bea is also wonderfully designed, but I did find it odd that the humans at the beginning were just silhouettes, including the boy who was at once in the same room as Bea. That meant that Bea was fully detailed and the boy was just a black silhouette, which did make it hard to feel the connection between the two in that moment, as it was like looking at only one character, that being Bea. Other than that, though, the game looks great!
I do find that the transitions are a bit abrupt, which feels a bit sloppy. This especially is weird during certain story moments where things are compelling and then suddenly end and transition. I was not expecting a whole lot from Space Tail, but considering the price and the length of the game, I was hoping for a bit more quality in my overall experience. Unfortunately, this is quite the mediocre title, and the music and sound, too, are rather bland, not leaving much of an impression at all.
At the end of the day, Space Trail is an okay game. It is daring in its gameplay, as it has a lot going on, but that also kind of hurts the experience. Bea is adorable and always looks great as she jumps, plays, barks, rolls over, and more, but she is a bit janky on the platforming side.
To its credit, though, Space Tail is a beefy game, and it will keep you busy for quite a few hours, but it is getting through the game that is the challenge. There are just a lot of quality-of-life improvements that need to take place in order for Space Tail to feel like a quality game, so hopefully an update or two come out to address some of the nagging issues.
If you are a fan of good storytelling and dogs, Space Tail is worth the trip. However, if you are looking for more, I’m afraid to say that Space Tails is lacking in regards to its gameplay caliber. On sale, this may be easier to chew, but at full price, I do not think it is worth it until some things are addressed.
Space Tail Switch Review provided by Nintendo Link
Developer: Longterm Games S.A., Enjoy Studio S.A.
Release Date: November 3rd, 2022
Price: $19.99, £17.99, €19,99
Game Size: 2.5 GB
Bea is adorable and the world looks amazing
The story is rather interesting
There is a lot of game here
Too many mechanics complicate things
Bea's platforming skills are a bit janky
Transitions are awkward and rough
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.