Say the name HAL Laboratory and chances are you’ll likely think of Super Smash Bros. or of course the little pink adorable Kirby. Not me. When I hear that company’s name spoken my mind goes straight to it’s much more overlooked BoxBoy! a true gem of a series and one I encourage you dig out your 3DS and check out if you haven’t already. Anyways, Part Time UFO is another unique effort from the studio and one that started life on smartphones a couple of years back. It’s also another fantastically fun creation from HAL Laboratory and one that feels right at home on the Switch.
You play as a small UFO named Jobski as you take on different jobs on Earth. Jobski is able to freely fly around and drop a claw at the press of a button which you’ll be using a lot in order to pick up, carry and drop items. Playing through Part Time UFO I couldn’t help but think back to Snipperclips, another game that takes a simple idea and presents it in such a pleasant and quick to grasp manner.
Jobs take Jobski to a number of colourful environments that include everything from the circus to farms to fishing boats. The game gets plenty of milage out of an otherwise fairly straightforward claw-grabbing mechanic largely thanks to the varying objectives each job throws your way. You’ll be catching fish in the ocean, putting toys away and even building a pyramid of cheerleaders. One particular standout for my wife and I ended up requiring a few attempts to finally nail and included balancing animals on a tightrope-walking elephant. I love how silly all the jobs are and it only further adds to the adorable charm that radiates from Part Time UFO.
While you’ll have a primary goal in each job, you’ll also need to make sure you complete its three secondary tasks. These involve everything from completing a job in a certain time to perhaps stacking your items with a little more flair or in a particular way. Every one of these tasks you complete will earn you a star with these required to unlock further jobs. Complete all three tasks in a job and you’ll then also unlock a tougher variation of it. These additional objectives prove great fun and offer a decent challenge a lot of the time requiring the player to think a little more about their approach to a job rather than simply grab and move things around as fast as possible. Unfortunately, since these tasks are only hinted via small icons, it can be tough to decipher what exactly is required of you for some where that icon isn’t super clear.
Outside completing jobs, you’ll be able to use your hard-earned coins from working to buy Jobski new outfits as well as take on a board of 48 different achievements. You’ll even find a handful of extra modes that includes the Tower of Infinity and Treasure Island. The former sees you stacking random objects as high as possible while the later offers a more adventure-like experience as you work through rooms of a temple searching for treasure. It’s short but a great little extra and something I’d love to see expanded should HAL Laboratory pursue a sequel in the future.
The addition of a co-operative option for this Switch version is a great one as Part Time UFO feels like it was made to be played with someone else. While I had fun taking on the jobs alone, working together on those same tasks with my wife proved equally as challenging and offered a welcome side of disarray to the mix.
Put simply Part Time UFO isn’t short on content and while it may run more expensive than the smartphone version, the added content makes it feel worth the slightly higher cost.
From a presentation standpoint the game is beaming with charm, from the cute Jobski to each environment in the game which is full with personality and neat little touches. The music while catchy can grow a little repetitive however since a majority of the soundtrack uses the same song in various remixes and forms.
Part Time UFO is a delightful little gem that boasts plenty of charm and is sure to keep you smiling throughout. While I often find the claw machines in arcades to be a frustrating time, Part Time UFO is anything but and a strong recommendation if you’re after something easy to jump into alone or with a co-op partner in tow.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Nintendo