The Stretchers (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Michael McCann 24.01.2020

Review for The Stretchers on Nintendo Switch

Nintendo is no stranger to publishing offbeat, quirky titles on their platforms. Oftentimes putting out low-key gems like Pushmo or Box Box Boy; games that never quite get the full appreciation they deserve, but contribute toward a much more interesting catalogue on the given system of their release. Indeed, The Stretchers achieves much the same goal for the Switch, managing to be unique, if a little trifling at times, but more than enough to define itself in an already massive library. It certainly is one thing - quirky.

Developed by Little Nightmares studio, Tarsier, this is geared towards a younger audience, and with local co-operative play predominantly in mind. Assuredly, co-op has been an internal drive for Nintendo with the Switch, and it is indeed in co-op where this shines.

The main conceit is to take independent control of two paramedics to solve puzzles, navigate tricky levels, and generally commit gross misconduct as they carry out their work together. The town is caught in a fever of the dizzies, which must be remedied by emergency medical treatment. The cause of this epidemic? Captain Brains, a disgruntled former employee of the very same paramedic team that players work for. It’s enough complexity to give the plot of Metal Gear Solid 2 a run for its money, if you really think about it hard enough.

The paramedics job primarily consists of driving the open world, going to one of the varied locales, avoiding obstacles, putting patents on your stretcher, then coordinating with each character to get the stretcher of said patents back to the ambulance and back past the aforementioned obstacles. This section is done in an over-the-top view, and once all the patents are on the ambulance, the gameplay reverts back to something more like a Grand Theft Auto-lite, as one player drives them to the hospital for treatment. All of this is done within a time frame, of course, and although there is no real penalty for missing this, other than loss of points, it always inspires a mad rush to do it as quick as possible.

Screenshot for The Stretchers on Nintendo Switch

Occasionally stretcher-ing missions will be broken up with other puzzle-types, such as moving a bomb, or cutting down trees, all requiring communication and coordination between the paramedics. This comes up with a lot of really creative and inventive ways to mix up the core mechanic of working together. It all has this cartoony but also unhinged, chaotic quality, which is lots of fun. Particular mention should be made for the joy of smashing through a brick wall directly prior to commencing a mission.

Throughout this hectic fun, however, lies some annoyance. The main theme tune plays incessantly at such a short, repetitive clip during navigation of the overworld, that it starts becoming akin to listening to something like the Birdy Song over and over again! The Stretchers is also guilty of having some irrelevant button prompts and questionable control layout in places. The game maps advancing the dialogue to the Y button, an input that isn’t used for anything else, so often the player can be left with an awkward dialogue box left hanging on the screen over active play.

This seems like an oversight, if not an odd choice for the developer. Another odd user design choice is just how long it takes to cycle through the results screen, something which this reviewer found arduous when completing missions. If getting through the game single player, the left stick and right stick still move each character respectively, but both must be controlled simultaneously by one person. It is certainly a work out for the ambidextrous grey matter. It just about works but can take some getting used to too.

Screenshot for The Stretchers on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The Stretchers is a jovial, anarchic affair. It looks like a Dreamcast title and, in some respects, feels like playing one too. That comparison isn't meant as a pejorative to say it's dated, as it isn't, and certainly it has a charm all of its own. Despite some small annoyances,it is the freshness, and an arcade-y fun-ness that feels like something off of Sega's last console. This is brimming with engaging ideas,which constantly build on or mix up the core mechanic, which taken on its own merits is strong. It is a Saturday morning cartoon that's a really, really great choice for kids. Otherwise the casual co-op-er,or someone just wanting something a little more playful with its ideas will find a lot of value here. Perhaps it's time to call for some medically trained professionals.

Developer

Tarsier Studios

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Puzzle

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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