Deep in the heart of PAX East’s Expo Hall, there’s a small section called the Indie Megabooth. It’s a place chock full of ambitious developers looking to humbly share their work with the masses. It can be a challenge to get noticed from thousands of passersby, especially with so much happening all around. One game, in particular, managed to pull that off for me. I couldn’t ignore the collective cheers I was hearing. I wanted to see what all the commotion was about. That’s when I discovered Aeolis Tournament.
My first glimpse of Aeolis Tournament at PAX East 2020.
There were eight people playing what looked like Rocket League but with furry characters instead of cars. They were shooting at a soccer ball trying to get it into the goal. The people playing the game were lively and clearly having fun. It made me smile watching them play. I actually stood behind them for a little while to see if I’d have a turn to play the game. Nope, none of the eight people wanted to leave. They kept on going and just were having a blast. Usually when I don’t get to play a game, I don’t pay it any mind afterward. But I took note of this one, and I’m glad I did.
After two years of development and a Kickstarter campaign, Aeolis Tournament made its Nintendo Switch debut yesterday. Beyond Fun Studio was generous enough to send me a copy in advance after I featured their game in my earlier editorial. Finally, I got a chance to play it, and let me just say it’s continued to make me smile. This is all on my own, playing the game in private, with no audience to judge my reaction. It’s such an absurd game but in a good way.
This is meant to be a multiplayer party game, so the more the merrier. You’re allowed to play 2, 4, 6, or 8 players. You can have anywhere from 1-8 people play the game, but there must be an even number of participants. Any vacant spots will be filled by the CPU. By default, you win based on who scores the most before time expires, which you can set anywhere between 1-5 minutes. The first time you win, you’ll unlock the option to choose next time if you prefer to win by points, where the first to score the designated amount of points wins the game.
Every completed game includes a tally to see who scored best in each category.
Next, you’ll be asked to choose your character. There are four animals and two humans to choose from. Each character is measured using a five-star rating system based on three attributes: speed, power, and weight. Some are balanced and some favor certain attributes over others. For example, if you choose the shark character Finn, you sacrifice speed in exchange for the stability that his weight gives you. You’ll move around slower than others, but it’ll be harder for others to push you. I learned this the hard way when I was shooting Finn point-blank with my air blaster – repeatedly — and he simply would not fall in the water!
You can also customize your character’s look with different colors and accessories, such as a winter hat, an eye patch, and a pair of sunglasses. The game gives you eight colors to start out with, but there are funky looking extras you can unlock. My favorite one is Elemental Green, which looks like something out of The Matrix. You can purchase these extras in the shop by using Aeolis Coins. This is the in-game currency you earn for experience playing the game. There are achievements that help you unlock different features, such as game rules, bonus colors and accessories, and even an Extreme Chaos Mode. For local game mode, you can choose quick game or tournament. There is also an online mode that supports cross-platform play.
If only it would let me dodge projectiles in slow motion with this one.
The mechanics of the game are simple enough for anyone to pick up and play. You have an air blaster which serves two purposes: suck in objects toward you and shoot those objects or gusts of air. One button does it all. But the fun is in the six different games you can choose from because each requires you to use that air blaster to win by different means.
Let’s talk about Chaos Mode in general because that’s the extra spice that adds a kick to the gameplay. No matter which of the six games you select, if you have Chaos Mode on, you’ll also have to contend with the random hazards that pop up out of nowhere. You can have a crate fall on your head from the sky, or lava blast up from the ground beneath you or get struck down by lightning. The multiplayer gameplay is chaotic enough as is, but the extra element of danger adds to the fun in my opinion. There are also different attribute boosts that will appear at random and can temporarily increase your speed, power, or weight.
Among the six games are three Free-for-alls and three Teams. There are brief tutorials before each game on how to play them. Here are my thoughts on each game:
The Perfect Storm (Free-for-all)
All participants are placed on an eight-sided island with the objective of pushing your opponent into the water as many times as you can. Due to the peculiar shape of the island, I found it very easy to fall into the water accidentally. Don’t trust the center as a safe spot either because (spoiler alert) a hole will eventually emerge from there too!
This was the level that I saw at PAX but didn’t notice until now that it’s more than just soccer. The ball you play with changes after every goal, and they each have their own physics. It will alternate between a soccer ball, volleyball, beach ball, and hockey puck. Sometimes the ball will be worth two points instead of one.
Explosive Dodgeball (Teams)
It’s exactly what it sounds like. You’re on what looks like some treetop platform, and you can’t cross the middle line. Bombs will sprout up onto the floor and you have to use your air blaster to suck it up and shoot it back at the other team. You get points by knocking your opponent off the edge. There are also bamboo sticks scattered around that you can use as projectiles.
Snowball Battle (Free-for-all)
You’re on a frozen island with snow barriers and pine trees, and you have to pelt your opponent with snowballs off the edge and into the ice water. In this one, you can vacuum up multiple snowballs to create a bigger snowball to launch at your enemies.
Marble Thief (Free-for-all)
This was my favorite of the free-for-all levels. I loved how cleverly designed it was. Each player has a hole matched up to their color, and the objective is to push marbles into that hole. The bigger the marble, the more points you get. But the level’s design lends itself to chaos, which makes it even more fun. There are many ways to fall, and you can also steal someone else’s marble (or have yours stolen) before it goes into a hole. If your aim isn’t on point, you can also accidentally help an opponent by shooting a marble into their hole instead of yours. As time progresses, the outer layer of the level rotates, changing the location of the hole from where you thought it was a few seconds ago. I laughed out loud after a thrilling last-second victory by my character Effy. This black cat had good luck on its side!
Air Hockey (Teams)
My favorite of the teams levels, and probably my overall favorite just because of my love of air hockey in general. Unlike with the Sportsball level, this is just the hockey puck. But in this one, your character glides around as if to skate on ice. Also when you shoot with your air blaster, it sends you backward. I had an instance where I tried to play goalie and whiffed on the puck, hilariously shooting me backward into the net before the puck followed.
All in all, I had a really fun time playing Aeolis Tournament and it’s easy to see myself coming back to it when I have the chance to play it with other people. I like the simplicity of the controls, all the hysterical action, and the different elements of each game. It would have been nice if they could expand upon the variety of characters and levels, with only six of each available as of this writing. The graphics are decent for a party game, and the music and sound weren’t anything notable to me, though I did enjoy the crowd noise during countdowns, it was a nice touch. This is a fine entry for Beyond Fun Studio and hopefully, they can build upon it going forward. It’s a charming family-friendly game that anyone can enjoy. Aeolis Tournament is available now on Nintendo Switch and Steam, with planned releases for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One at a later time. Get your copy today and have yourself a blast!
Thanks for reading and happy gaming!
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Aeolis Tournament for the Nintendo Switch provided by Beyond Fun Studio.