If you ever looked at your Switch library and thought “hmm, my collection is seriously lacking a game where I can jump on trucks in mid-air as they run into each other and explode, while also dodging lasers,” then Clustertruck just might be what you’re looking for.
The indie platformer that was a hit on Steam has made its move to the Nintendo Switch. It has a basic premise: jump from truck to truck as fast as you can without touching the ground. It’s basically a game of hot lava but instead of furniture, you jump on clusters of trucks. But what starts out as something simple gets more and more complex, as the game slowly adds obstacles and layers that the player needs to move around. It really is a fun game, and its acclaim on Steam from PC gamers is well earned. Unfortunately, the jump from PC to console isn’t the smoothest transition, as it becomes clear quickly that Clustertruck plays best with a mouse and keyboard.
That’s not to say Clustertruck isn’t some serious fun on Switch. The high octane moments that come from some of the courses are hard to replicate in any other game. Seeing your convoy of trucks suddenly start to explode because another convoy is magically falling from the sky into their path is not only hilarious but really tests player skill at the same time. Jumping on the backs of trucks that are blown into the air never really gets old, and Clustertruck never seems to cease with the surprises. The randomness of each course can be infuriating at times, but usually is just the result of the game’s wacky physics. No course ever runs the same twice, as the player will quickly learn.
The game has a decent campaign, 9 worlds with 10 courses each, as well as some courses from past seasonal events, all of which never let up on the intense challenge the game constantly throws in your face. Each world in the campaign sports a different theme, which usually just comes in the form of adding in a new element the player has to overcome to beat the course. For example, World 4 introduces lasers that will kill you instantly, which changes the way you complete a course since it isn’t just falling and touching the ground that ends your run anymore.
Each world is good fun because as they get harder and harder, you get better and better. The final course of each world will have everything you’ve encountered in those past 9 courses all in one hellish run, but overcoming it is a triumphant feeling. Some of the themes will change what music is playing in the background, or have certain obstacles that are unique to that world. In the Sci-Fi world, there are gravity launchers and sometimes even flying robots that would shoot missiles at your caravan of trucks.
The different worlds and their courses are where the charm of Clustertruck lies. Even the seasonal worlds have their own fun shtick – I mean who wouldn’t want to dodge giant pumpkins while you jump on the tops of trucks? Unfortunately, I wasn’t even able to finish the campaign due to bugs. The game ran smooth as silk both docked and portable, right up until I hit World 8, Steampunk. Once I got to level 8:4, the game would either crash upon completing the course or allow me to move forward without being given a score at the end of the level. But even if it allowed me to move forward, the game would inevitably crash after another course or two and my progress would be stuck at 8:4 when rebooting the game. It’s an unfortunate bug that took me right out of the fun of the campaign, but can hopefully be fixed with future developer updates.
Clustertruck took off on PC for good reason; it’s a fun, zany game that constantly keeps you on your toes and is always testing player skill with each course. Tight controls are necessary for a platformer like this, which is why it’s troubling how poorly the controls have transitioned from PC to console. On Switch, the controls make it near impossible to be able to look around at your surroundings while still jumping and moving smoothly the way you’d like to. The jump button is locked on A, making it hard to take your finger off the jump button to put it on the right stick, since you’re constantly jumping in Clustertruck. It could have easily been solved by being able to change the control scheme in the options, but you can’t even do that.
This issue only adds to the sometimes rage-inducing difficulty of some courses. Not being able to look around without sacrificing accurate jumps is a serious problem on some courses. Some courses, especially in Laser World, are super dependent on your POV being situated in the perfect position to pass an obstacle. Since you will be spending a lot of your time just looking forward and not even bothering to use the right stick in most cases, this only makes the courses that are already overwhelming near impossible. It’s a game that could really make use of the Switch’s gyro-aiming, especially since at this point you can’t change the control scheme.
Thankfully, there are abilities that you can buy that help you out a little bit with these issues. Slow-motion saved my ass more times than I can count, especially when it gave me a grace period of being able to look around and really take in my surroundings. You can buy as many of the abilities as you want, and while you can only equip two at a time, some make the game crazy fun with some added mayhem. It’s just unfortunate that some courses are basically impossible without using them, at least on console.
Clustertruck is at its best when there is utter chaos on the screen. Jumping on falling trucks in mid-air or dodging robot missiles while not touching the ground make for some unique moments that a lot of platformers can’t really achieve. The game is just really held back by the sometimes questionable transition from PC to Switch. The controls could use some tweaking, even letting players change them themselves could probably help with this problem significantly. But when it comes down to it, Clustertruck does what it sets out to do, which is to provide some pure, unadulterated fun. It’s a great game to just pick-up and play, both on the go and docked at home. It’s just a shame that some players might be stuck at a certain level in the campaign before they can see all the wild courses and obstacles that Clustertruck has to offer.