For a studio that self describes as making “really, really dumb video games”, Snoozy Kazoo certainly knows how to make a really, really good title. Showing up in my Switch e-shop right in the middle of irl tax season, “Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion” was the kind of name you don’t just pass over. A kawaii, sword-wielding little miscreant that looks like a pixelated hybrid of Link and an Oddish? I’m here for it. An aesthetic that screams “lo-fi beats to game to”? Absolutely. A name that promises to permeate both of those things with some level of adult humor? Sign me up. I had a clear idea of what this game would be offering right off the bat, and it delivered on that assumption with flawless accuracy.
Onions, the root of all evil
The game opens with you learning that you are delinquent on the property taxes for your greenhouse. You are presented with only one actionable option to handle this formidable news: rip it up. A plucky, upbeat bop starts jamming away in the background as your sentient Turnip Boy stares smiling at a very disgruntled-looking onion. This monocled mister Mayor Onion informs you of your fiscal crimes, appointing you as his new personal assistant (read: servant) until you pay off your debts. He proceeds to essentially hold your greenhouse ransom while you patter off on retrieval quests, taking care to avoid the ominous “rotten”.
when life gives you lemons, steal the things they hold most Dear
The relationship between you and Mayor Onion drives the main storyline, but there are plenty of entertaining characters to meet along the way. The first item you acquire is a watering can that used to belong to Old Man Lemon. Speaking with the overripe citrus reveals that the watering can is the only thing he has left to remember his deceased wife by. Which is too bad for him, since Turnip Boy doesn’t seem to have learned the concept of “borrowing”.
This first interaction pretty much sets you up for the kind of humor you will be enjoying in this game. A smitten strawberry watches as you rip up her marriage proposal intended for the florist. A blushing blueberry reacts with horror after you slaughter his friend Jerry the Snail, presumably just for being a snail (vegetarians are a danger to turnips, after all). This dark humor overlayed with an impossibly cute art style seems to be the perfect recipe for unlocking audible laughs. In fact, it seems as though your only options when confronted with a choice are to rip it up or kill it. Well, at least you’re consistent?
Slash, dash, and blow it to smithereens.
Given that the star of the show is the humor, the gameplay mechanics are unsurprisingly rudimentary. Using your stolen watering can, you grow plants that give you weapons, upgrades, and puzzle-solving tools. A strange plant gives you a soil sword, which is your main weapon until eventually acquiring a shovel. Utilizing bombs, blocks, and even portals grown from watered plants, you solve puzzles and make your way through the different areas.
In general, I found the combat to be cute but somewhat underwhelming. You are limited to slashing and dodging in only four directions, and most free-roaming earthworms and snails out in the world are easily avoidable. Some of the boss fights were more engaging, requiring you to learn attack patterns and utilize bomb flowers. However, the battles felt clunkier than their puzzle counterparts, which were well thought out and at times somewhat difficult. One particular puzzle involving the boomblooms and the potted petalportal stumped me for longer than I care to admit.
be the Anarchist turnip boy you want to see in the world
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is one of the funniest games I have ever played. It’s the kind of content that is hilarious because of its transparency. This game feels like a playable Internet culture reference, where the payoff of every quest is a joke or relatable meme. It is somehow both calming and concerning to play. Is Turnip Boy actually just the embodiment of chaotic evil, sacrificing friend and foe alike in the name of lawless destruction? Maybe so. But you can’t deny how cute he looks doing it in all his little hats. And that’s the kind of game I can get behind. Palatable nihilism, now with cute hats.
Turnip Boy is Getting an Update!
On April 28th, Snoozy Kazoo announced a new content update on their blog website. The update is scheduled to come out sometime in the next few months. A sneak peek at the music for the new dungeon can be heard here.
A lover of storytelling across all genres. Endlessly searching for the balance between consumption and creation. High hopes that writing on the internet will lessen the amount of time I spend in unrequited discourse with my cat.