[Preview] Glitch Busters: Stuck on You is a magnetic, clever shooter designed for co-op chaos
Posted on June 26, 2022 by Nicholas Serpa in Previews, Switch eShop
As someone who mostly plays single-player games, it takes something special for me to really get excited about digging my heels into a cooperative-focused experience. Glitch Busters: Stuck on You, an upcoming cartoon-styled third-person shooter with platforming and puzzle elements, seems to be checking all the right boxes. Not only does it have a striking and vibrant art style that plops 2D character cut-outs into a colorful 3D world, its clever use of magnets as a gameplay mechanic made Glitch Busters one of the most fun games that I played at Summer Game Fest.
Glitch Busters is set inside the Internet, and tasks the player with cleaning up a viral outbreak (of the computer variety, I should mention – not the healthcare kind) that has spread across the various digital realms of the web. I spent about twenty minutes playing through a few stages of Glitch Busters alongside Yusuke Ochiai, the game’s director, as well as Casey Moore, an associate producer from developer Toylogic. The stages I played in my demo had me jumping, shooting, and magnetically launching myself through Tube City, a cyber-themed metropolis, and my first impression of the game was that there seems to be an impressive variety of things to do in each level. No matter whether I was blasting away at Glitches, helping out CreaTubers by picking them up and tossing them to safety, or clambering atop of my teammates to get to a higher platform, everything felt intuitive and fun to play from the moment I picked up the controller.
Technically, you can play through the entire story mode of Glitch Busters by yourself if you want, but Moore says that this game was born from the desire to make something that was fun to play with friends and family members.
“One of the things we were thinking about when creating this game was having four people play together,” Moore said. “We’re kind of bringing back couch co-op, you know? Having you talk to each other, and really have fun with it.”
One of the more interesting gameplay mechanics in Glitch Busters is its use of magnets. Not only can you use them to snap to certain objects in the environment – think walking up walls and such – but you can also use them to attach yourself to other players and use them as a moving platform of sorts from which to shoot enemies or jump to higher structures. There is also a magnetic dash ability that lets you slam into enemies (or away from them), and there are even some objects around the environment – elevators, for example – that require the use magnet abilities to operate.
“The main goal initially, when creating this game, was to have players stick together – and that’s where the magnet idea came into play,” Moore said.
Of course, being a multiplayer game, there’s always the tempting option to just throw your teammates off the edge of a stage if you’re feeling mischievous – or if you want to try and earn more “Likes” than them when the stage’s final score is calculated. But it did seem like working together was the more fun and efficient approach. For example, there were portions of stages in Glitch Busters where players can only progress after clearing some kind of major obstruction, requiring clearing out enemies or shooting at various targets, and it’s much faster to progress past these kinds of obstacles when everyone is working together.
“This is one of those game modes where if everybody gets along, it goes very smoothly,” Moore said. “If you’re playing with people who you maybe don’t get along with, your brother or something… yeah. You can throw people into danger.”
While the twenty-something stages that consist of Glitch Busters’ 8-hour campaign are all hand-crafted, there are other modes to dive into that Moore says are designed to add replayability. Patrol Mode generates random stages for players to navigate through after setting a custom difficulty level, and Simulate Mode lets players create their own scenarios by specifying what types of enemies will appear, how long levels will last for, and more. Combat also will let players experiment a bit by unlocking weapons and abilities. In Story Mode, Moore says there are currently over 15 distinct types of blasters that can be discovered, and while these only stay with you for the current level, you can also spend in-game coins to make them available in Glitch Busters’ other game modes.
Some segments of Glitch Busters abandon the 3D platforming entirely for 2D, reaction-based gameplay, and Moore hinted that there will be additional modes in the game that they aren’t talking about quite yet. And in addition to single-player and local splitscreen, all of it can be played via online matchmaking as well as local wireless. I sensed while playing that getting some folks together on the couch will be the most fun way to go. The big question with these types of games that are trying to draw in a broader audience is always how well they will be able to quickly appeal to folks who don’t normally play games, and it’s too soon to say for sure about that. But if there’s one aspect of Glitch Busters that feels primed to capture some attention on social media, it’s probably going to be the game’s beautiful art direction.
Glitch Busters’ visuals are immediately striking, implementing a hybrid 2D-3D style that we are seeing more of these days – other indie games with this type of style that jump to mind include Demon Turf and the upcoming Tinykin. Where Glitch Busters sets itself apart is in just how animated everything is. The game leans hard into its emoji-fueled aesthetic, and all the characters are very expressive, with their big eyes bulging from their heads and their arms flailing about comically when they get launched into the air.
Toylogic worked with Shirimoto, a Japanese cartoon artist, on the game’s character design and art style, and it really paid off. In motion, it all looks incredibly smooth, and the more I saw of the game the more I wanted to see what else was in store. The developers also promised we would see some other environments in the future – I’m particularly interested in visiting what they described as “a forest that’s based on social messaging services.”
I’m curious to see just how far into this internet theme Glitch Busters: Stuck on You will venture. Players won’t have long to wait to find out for themselves; the game is currently scheduled to launch on Switch and other platforms later this year.