There was a time when Nintendo announced a game months before it was actually released. In recent years, they sometimes dare to announce a game during a Nintendo Direct and then immediately offer it for sale via the eShop. Now, however, Nintendo has come up with a title that they have hardly given any attention to by simply placing a launch trailer on the day it just pops up online. A test for the future or a game that they want to put on the pile of forgotten games? It could be that first.
The Stretchers, released out of the blue last week on the Switch eShop, shows that Nintendo has changed somewhat. Just like Snipperclips and Flip Wars before on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has produced their latest crazy concept as an exclusive download, but this effort is full of the kind of insane genius that makes us think there might be more to see in paramedic protagonists in the future .
This is a crazy game that combines a simplistic open world – far away from the Hyrule of Breath of the Wild, and even a little less detailed than the Wii Sports Resort’s Wuhu Island – with small puzzle challenges involving the two ambulance drivers in a lot of missions. The main objective is removing unconscious patients known as ‘Dizzies’, who have been brought into a state of madness by the evil Captain Brain. It feels like the developers were heavily inspired by TV programs such as Paw Patrol in coming up with these missions.
For the most part The Stretchers plays a bit like LEGO City Undercover, with the hospital (which heals all his patients with a blasting device, for some crazy reason) as their home base. From there you can jump in the ambulance and then leave to where your target marker is on the map, leaving a trail of broken lampposts and knocked-down pedestrians. When you arrive at your destination, the perspective shifts to that of a cooperative puzzle.
While playing with a friend, you each take control of an ambulance driver, the intention is to stay together while you pull out the stretcher and try to maneuver among the victims – before you literally swing them in the back of the ambulance. You can carry all the victims on the stretcher at the same time, with some thicker people or even sumo wrestlers weighing considerably more and thus slowing you down in saving people. In addition, each level also has a bonus to find and unlock, so you can also take your time to look around before finishing up.
Apart from working with your friend to hit switches together and pulling levers, things are never particularly challenging unless you play alone, then everything suddenly becomes ten times more difficult. You control an ambulance driver with your left stick and one with your right stick and to manoeuvre together quickly that can be quite difficult. Certainly if you realize that you cannot always move in the same direction to make both ambulance workers move. Just like Snipperclips, this six-hour game is actually made with multiplayer in mind.
But if you can play this game with a good friend on the couch, you will soon see that this game is simply hilarious! Patients who accidentally fall on their heads, fumbling to lift patients or to carry a stack of patients as high as possible ensures for a lot of fun and that is precisely the core of this game. Only we had hoped that it would take several hours longer to complete everything.
The Stretchers will give you the same co-op joy as Snipperclips – we just wanted it to last longer. It is a bit too easy and short to justify the price, but it is nevertheless Nintendo magic.