Fasten Your Buttons for Fun
Button City is a charming narrative adventure game that focuses on a small community of vibrant characters to explore and meet. With a delightful story, dynamic aesthetic, and adequate mechanics, Button City creates a fun and heartwarming encounter.
The story opens up with Fennel, a shy fox that is new to town and quickly becomes friends with some of the arcade-goers in town. As the game progresses, Fennel and his friend group (The Fluff Squad), build their friendships, engage in some silly shenanigans, and rally together in hopes of saving the town arcade. Throughout the story, there’s also wonderful moments of complete hilarity, but also one-on-one moments between Fennel and other characters through powerful contexts really elevates the meaning behind each interaction. This is especially done with the poignant writing and fantastic pop culture references sprinkled throughout. The conclusion is a bit hokey, but really drives the notion that this game is about friendship and creating a loving community with the people around you.
In addition to loving the themes within Button City, I absolutely adore the aesthetic of the game. With the simple low-poly characters, mixed with a vibrant color scheme, I was quickly sucked into the appeal. The characters, in addition to their text narration, also offer comical reactions to the situations – only elevating my joy for the game.
It’s also appreciated that there’s some customization with font sizes for the game (it started painfully small on my Nintendo Switch). However, as I progressed through the game, I noticed it was only for conversation text boxes and not every spot where reading was required.
The music also followed the presentation of the rest of the game – wonderfully adorable. But, after a bit, most of the bit-inspired music became repetitive to a fault when long conversations occurred. I had to restart my game a few times as well because all the sounds would drop – creating an eerie sense of confusion and disappointment. Luckily, after restarting the game, the issue would resolve itself.
The actual gameplay of Button City is split into two main categories. Like many adventure games, you’re exploring the world in several hub-focused locations. So there’s a spot for your house, then you can immediately transport yourself to the arcade, then to downtown, etc. I loved this quick jump mechanic because I wasn’t forced to get bogged down by constant backtracking or excessive wandering. Additionally, the game provides an easy to follow log of all the activities and story beats you can complete to progress the story – which was particularly useful in case you missed a moment in the dialogue or needed a bit more clarity. Most of these story-driven objectives were fetch quests or simple puzzles, so I wasn’t overtly stuck, albeit a little subdued by the fourth or fifth quest to find various items to progress. The game also supports touch screen interactions for Nintendo Switch players in handheld mode – a nice feature I realized towards the end of the game.
The other side of the gameplay focuses on Gobabots, the in-game arcade where two teams of four compete to get the most points by chopping down fruit and placing it into a central giant-sized blender. It almost made me think of a very rudimentary MOBA (maybe?) where each person has a standard attack and special attack and if you defeat an enemy, they’re placed back into their team’s starting point. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this aspect of the game particularly fun or interesting. The gameplay was repetitive, despite having options to swap out your generic in-game character throughout the game. I ended up mostly playing the Gobabots game for only required story-driven portions, but additional opponents are throughout the game as optional encounters if you want to delve deeper into it.
Overall: 7.0 Out of 10
Button City is a wholesome game that deserves as much love as was clearly used to create it. The story elements offer plenty of opportunities to form attachment to the characters, while also progressing the story swiftly. Though the gameplay mechanics overall weren’t overly exciting, but serviceable to continue the journey. This 5-7 hour game doesn’t overstay its welcome and is a good bite sized treat for a weekend adventure.
A copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review on Nintendo Switch.
A version of this review is also posted on Six One Indie.