Swinging low… from a chariot.
Lots of developers have seized the opportunity of giving their Wii U games another lease of life on the Switch. Some might say this harms the Switch’s reputation for fresh new games, but when it comes to the underappreciated eShop releases, that’s where the tactic excels. Super Chariot is a perfect fit for that description.
The premise of the game is largely the same as any of your typical platformers – leaping from surface to surface and picking up collectibles along the way. Except, in Super Chariot, you’ll need to take a cart along the way with you. “What?”, I hear you ask?
It sounds so cumbersome – imagine in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, if Link had to carry out the entire quest with a rope around his waist attached to an enormous boulder. But, despite how awkward and unorthodox the premise sounds, it’s actually this unique selling point which makes Super Chariot quite memorable.
It’s impressive how many platforming tropes can be picked up and even improved on by doing it with a cart in tow. Imagine the mine sections in Donkey Kong Country, without being glued to the rails. There’s something quite exhilarating about pushing the cart over the edge of a slope and jumping on board as it sails downwards.
There are multiple ways of manoeuvring the chariot. The first, and most simple, is to simply walk towards it and push it. Alternatively, hitting ZR allows you to use a rope to pull it along behind you. This is handy for getting it up to higher ground – you jump up first, then grab it with the rope and tug. It’s this method which is most useful for progressing – making it across gaps, climbing and reaching hidden areas will all often require you to pull the chariot to spots it wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
Enemies pop up a way into the game who try to steal your hard-earned treasures; these include bat-type creatures who are alerted if you make too much of a noise, for example if you were to let the chariot fall from too steep a height. The game, which can feel slow and plodding in places as you traverse the gaps, does well in suddenly switching to a frantic sense of panic. If you get too far away from the chariot, you’ll be forced to return to the last checkpoint, so particularly in cases where you push it over a slope which is longer than you thought it would be, or when you accidentally see it sailing over a crevice into a big fall, there are spots where you’ll be comically chasing after the chariot.
Super Chariot is best-played in its co-op mode alongside a friend – there are certain puzzles you will not be able to complete on your own. With two of you clinging on to a rope attached to either of the chariot’s two wheels, you’ll be able to pull in opposite directions and suspend the chariot, offering the opportunity to reach further areas. But on your own, it’s a little frustrating that not everything is possible to reach.
It’s great to see Super Chariot get a second chance of exposure on a Nintendo system. Hopefully we’ll see more where that came from if the Switch community takes it up.