Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

WellPlayedWellPlayed

Review

Grapple Dog Review

You Ain’t Nothing But A Grapple Dog

The first time you boot up Grapple Dog, you can’t help but feel a wave of familiarity wash over you. Everything about it, from its presentation to its traditional platforming, feels like a warm embrace of nostalgia, the perfect reminder of the good old days when Super Mario Bros. etched itself into the history books and the very many mascot characters that tried (and often failed) to recapture that same magic. Thankfully, there’s more here than just a quick re-tread through platforming history, though Grapple Dog struggles to fully embrace its identity.

Long ago, a great power presided over the land of Partash called the Great Inventor. This wonderous being created various devices to aid the people, saving them from a life of poverty. But with power comes jealousy, and an evil crept out from the shadows to challenge the Great Inventor. Sensing the danger, the Great Inventor mysteriously vanished, scattering four of his inventions across the land in hopes the evil would never find them. Many have tried and failed to seek out the great treasures, but they remained a secret until a young pup named Pablo and his travelling band of heroes come across the evil robot Nul, who awakens to retrieve the four items for his own nefarious plan. It’s up to Pablo and friends to make sure that doesn’t happen, and they set out on a quest to defend the world.

Excuse me sir, you left your hadouken on

Grapple Dog ticks off all the usual story beats of a classic tale of good versus evil, but it doesn’t take long to get into the swing (heh) of things as Pablo retrieves one of the Great Inventor’s creations, the trusty grappling hook, and sets out for adventure. What follows is a mixture of solid, traditional platforming, full of pitfalls to avoid and enemies to jump on, along with a clever integration of grappling and swinging up and over areas.

Each of the six worlds on offer slowly introduce new mechanics, such as underwater sequences or moving platforms and a few puzzle elements that will have you moving back and forth to unlock doors to progress. The grapple itself is cleverly integrated and well thought out, with specific blue platforms standing out from the usual colour palette to designate where you can launch your grapple into. From there, you can swing up to a higher place or reach further distances, with later levels requiring you to quickly launch and hook onto platforms one after another.

It would have come undone if the controls hadn’t been tight enough and easy to handle, and thankfully it feels great under the thumb. Platform games can live and die on that, but Pablo glides and bounces his way rather cleanly across the environments, though many of the cannon fodder enemies don’t really provide much of a challenge compared to the level design itself. I did accidentally swing into a spike or trap more than once, and later levels are more challenging than others and may take a few lives to accomplish. Luckily the game is very forgiving with checkpoints, so that’s not as frustrating as it could have been.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



A little late for that now

For most of the levels, the grappling hook isn’t your main mode of transport but more an aid when needed, meaning the majority of your move set falls back into the traditional running and jumping variety. That’s not a bad thing, as Grapple Dog gets that oh so right, but it feels like the grappling hook should have had a more prominent role in Pablo’s adventure. Certain boss battles or sections may only be overcome using the hook (a battle against a tank boss has you swinging overhead to dodge incoming fire for instance), but that’s less to do with creative uses of the item and more just reaching another high platform or avoiding attacks.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a criticism. Grapple Dog is an excellent adventure, coupled with plenty of bonus levels and a time trial mode, it’s a nice meaty package that will satisfy those looking for a colourful, enjoyable world in the ilk of some of the greats, but I couldn’t help but wonder whether a little more tinkering might have reaped more enjoyable rewards for players if the level design had allowed for it. It’s in the name of the game after all, but the grappling hook never truly takes centre stage. Whether that’s a misstep is hard to say, given how much fun I had, but it does feel like a missed opportunity.

What is this, Jurassic Bark?!

Final Thoughts

Grapple Dog does play a little on the nostalgia bone, but everything it sets out to do it accomplishes enjoyably, with a well animated lick of paint, an upbeat if slightly repetitive soundtrack and a little dash of humour. It’s an adventure that has plenty of content, with some later levels offering a healthy challenge and holding plenty of secrets that should appeal to older players, but some of it follows a road that’s too often been walked down, meaning it doesn’t quite innovate as much as it could have.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



Click here for information on WellPlayed’s review policy and ethics

Grapple Dog Review
Swing when you’re winning
Grapple Dog is a lot of fun, and for platform fans new or old it should provide plenty of entertainment. But the concept doesn’t push the ingenuity slider high enough, and many of its other tricks have been used aplenty elsewhere.
The Good
Solid controls and enjoyable platforming
Grappling feels great
Wonderful use of colour
Just the right amount of nostalgia
The Bad
Grappling doesn't go far enough
Later levels can get tricky
The music is great but can get repetitive
8.5
Get Around It
  • Medallion Games
  • Super Rare Originals
  • Switch / PC
  • February 10, 2022

Grapple Dog Review
Swing when you’re winning
Grapple Dog is a lot of fun, and for platform fans new or old it should provide plenty of entertainment. But the concept doesn’t push the ingenuity slider high enough, and many of its other tricks have been used aplenty elsewhere.
The Good
Solid controls and enjoyable platforming
Grappling feels great
Wonderful use of colour
Just the right amount of nostalgia
The Bad
Grappling doesn’t go far enough
Later levels can get tricky
The music is great but can get repetitive
8.5
Get Around It
Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.

Comments

Latest

News

The blood-soaked sequel will also hit IMAX

News

All things Warhammer and video games, in one convenient showcase

Feature

There is a lot more to WoW: Cataclysm than you might remember

Podcast

Australia's juiciest gaming podcast

News

Play games, do taxes – whatever your kitty heart desires

Review

I see red, I see red, I see red

Latest Podcast Episode

You May Also Like

Review

I’ve never been so scared of multiple exposed openings

Review

Biblically Accurate Alpha Naytiba

Advertisement