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PAX East 2019: Joggernauts

An autorunner? In 2019? For PC and Switch? No, you’re not imagining things, Joggernauts puts a fun new twist on what would otherwise be a free game on the play store by adding multiplayer mechanics. While the game does have a singleplayer mode, the game gets increasingly more chaotic when you add in more players. Here’s how it works: one to four players run in a line. Each of them are a certain color, and the levels have obstacles that match the color of one of the players. If a player matching the color runs through the obstacle (for example, the purple character runs through a purple cactus), it goes away. If anyone else runs into it, however, the team takes a hit.

This is where the main mechanic comes in: any character can hit a button and switch their position with whoever’s at the front of the line. If there’s a blue enemy coming up, the blue character has to switch to the front, or whoever’s ahead of them will take a hit. This gets a lot more complicated when you take the platforming into account: if you’re in front, and try to jump over a ledge, but someone switches positions with you, your jump arc gets messed up and you might fall into a pit. The platforming combined with the switching mechanic splits your focus, you not only have to look ahead for when you have to switch but you also have to jump at the right time to clear pits and collect points and trophies.

The collectibles add yet another layer to the whole mess. Levels can give you enough trouble just to complete them, I was in a group of four and we wiped out on the last level close to a dozen times, but once you beat the level, there’s still trophies to collect in order to get 100% completion. Even if you’re not interested in trophies, though, you still have to collect points throughout the levels to unlock checkpoints. If you don’t have enough points to activate the checkpoint when you pass it, you don’t get it, and if you die then it’s back to the start of the level.

Joggernauts was a lot of fun, and since it’s out now, I think I’ll pick it up when I get home. It’s certainly more fun the more people you have, so if you and your friends are fans of party games and platformers, I’d recommend getting it yourselves. Since its October release, it’s gotten a content update and potentially could get more in the future. The developer I talked to said there are plans for a PS4 and Xbox port, however there’s not a release window yet.

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