Nintendo’s final Partner Showcase of the year gifted Switch owners with an overload of content. In the October Direct alone we got ports of the first two No More Heroes games, a demo for the upcoming Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, and even 2019’s Control via cloud streaming. The whole presentation was chock-full of massive announcements, but the highlight for me was actually one of the smaller games. It may have flown under a lot of other people’s radars, but Part Time UFO almost immediately caught my attention.
Part Time UFO’s Bewildering Journey to Nintendo Switch
Developed by HAL Laboratory, Part Time UFO is a physics-based puzzle game that was, to the surprise of many, released for iOS and Android nearly three years ago. It came out in Japan in late 2017 and saw a worldwide release a few months later. Part Time UFO also marks the first game of HAL Laboratory’s mobile division, HAL Egg.
From what I can gather, the mobile version of Part Time UFO was an alright game. It seemed one of the only marks some people had against it was its platform. Which to be honest, I can entirely understand. Part Time UFO released both when the 3DS was still being supported, and the Switch was just starting off. If HAL was so keen on creating a game that you could play on the go, why not put it on one of Nintendo’s two handheld centric consoles? Not to mention, this game also made its way to the West at the same time titles like PUBG were picking up steam on mobile. Suffice to say, Part Time UFO wasn’t exactly the type of game people were playing on their phones.
Part Time UFO’s initial release was less than ideal, to say the least. It came out on an ill-suited platform at the wrong time. However, now that the game’s on Nintendo Switch and I’ve invested over five hours into it, I can confidently say that there is no better place or time to experience Part Time UFO than now.
The Appeal of Part Time UFO
From its visuals to its music, Part Time UFO has plenty of charm to spare. Much like HAL Laboratory’s other IPs such as Kirby or BoxBoy, this game boasts an incredibly soft and welcoming art style. With its simple shapes and soft colors, Part Time UFO looks like it could be straight from a children’s cartoon. It may not be as graphically impressive as other 2020 games, but it more than makes up for it in its coziness. Part Time UFO is just a very pleasant feeling game, and that’s only furthered by its soundtrack. Every song is so jovial and upbeat that it’s hard to not be in a good mood while playing.
Together, Part Time UFO’s visuals and music do a fantastic job of setting the game’s tone. This is very much a game that you’re meant to play when you wish to lay back and unwind. It’s not something you’re gonna get stressed out over or spend hundreds of hours playing. It’s a game that you’re gonna wanna play on your couch after a long day, when you’re just looking for some laughs and a good time.
What About the Game Itself?
The premise of Part Time UFO is just as straightforward as the gameplay itself. You play as Jobski, a sentient UFO with two defining characteristics; an extendable claw, and a willingness to help people. Upon arriving on Earth, you lend a hand to a farmer who accidentally crashes their truck. Once you’ve moved all the farmer’s dropped boxes and oranges back into his vehicle, he suggests that a ton of others could likely benefit from your assistance as well. The farmer then gives you a magazine full of job listings, and thus Jobski’s laborious adventure begins.
From there, the rest of the main game has you use this job magazine to help the inhabitants of the world with various tasks. Jobski’s work ranges from tasks as mundane as collecting fish, to as extreme as building giant fighter robots. Within each of these jobs, there is an end objective and three challenges you can complete along the way. The end objectives and challenges differ from job to job, but each level will always revolve around grabbing and dropping particular objects.
Once you’ve met a job’s end objective, the level will be cleared and you are then scored on your performance. Clearing a level will automatically earn you coins, but I’ll leave those for later. What you really want are medals. You can obtain a medal by completing any one of a job’s three challenges, meaning each job has a maximum of three medals to earn. Collect enough medals and new pages will be added to your magazine, giving you more jobs to take on. There are thirty unique jobs in total, and once you clear the last one, you’ll have beaten Part Time UFO.
More Than What’s on The Surface
If you were ever on the search for a game with easy to understand controls, you need look no further than Part Time UFO. Move with the left analog stick and grab and release objects with “A”. These few basic actions make up the entirety of the game. However, despite its controls being incredibly simple and its inherent repetitive structure, Part Time UFO somehow never came off as tedious. It may appear to be fairly one dimensional on the surface, but I believe this game has more depth to it than people give it credit for.
Thanks to its surprisingly vast amount of side content, Part Time UFO never really felt stale to me. This is due in large part to features like the Shop. The game’s Shop is available right from the beginning and is where you spend your aforementioned coins. Coins can be used to purchase various outfits, some of which even possess special traits that affect gameplay. For instance, the ninja costume increases movement speed, while the tiger suit strengthens your grip. There are thirty costumes in total for Jobski to wear, allowing you to tailor your UFO to your own personal liking.
The Switch Version Adds Even More Content
Lastly, if you still don’t think a port of Part Time UFO is worth the $9, it’s worth mentioning that the Switch version also has a bunch of original content. Both Tower of Infinity and Treasure Island are brand new game modes that were not on the mobile app. Tower of Infinity is an endless stacking game that has you stack miscellaneous items as high as you can. Treasure Island, on the other hand, leans more into the puzzle aspect of the game. This mode has you solve your way through dungeon-like rooms, collecting treasure along the way. These two additional game modes are remarkably fleshed out and serve as a refreshing break from the main campaign.
Arguably the most exciting new content in the Switch version of Part Time UFO is the local multiplayer. The Nintendo Switch has no shortage of competitive multiplayer games, but cooperative ones are strangely hard to come by. Part Time UFO’s couch co-op however is a blast, and not at all compromising of the game itself. You can have two people playing at the same time working together, and it’s just as, if not more fun than it’d be playing solo. Multiplayer isn’t limited to just the main game either, as both of the new modes support it as well. All in all, if you’re someone who enjoys playing games with friends, you’ll definitely find value in Part Time UFO.
When Part Time UFO was first announced for Switch, there was some concern that this is just a low effort mobile game on a larger screen. However, just because it may have been easier to develop, does not mean it’s any less polished than other games of its cost. The makings of a quality game are clearly here.
Part Time UFO is charming, fun, and has enough depth that it deserves to be on a home console. The fact that there’s so much I wasn’t able to fully talk about without making this review any longer than it is, just shows that this game has a lot to offer. And at such a low price, it’s more than worth it in my opinion. Part Time UFO was my favorite game of October, and I strongly urge others to give it a shot.