A drunk driving test you cannot pass.
There are countless video games available with complex control schemes that seem designed to drive you to madness. Clumsy Rush is the exact opposite. It’s still designed to drive you to madness, mind you, but it does so with just two buttons.
The goal itself is simple; pick up a crown and carry it to the goal line. The problem is that you’re a hippopotamus. More specifically, a clumsy one; a real live hippo would have an easier time getting a crown from point A to point B despite its lack of hands and ability to reason.
This is because the game’s control scheme is purposefully awkward. You use the ZL button to move your left foot forward, ZR to move the right. It sounds simple, yes, but in the heat of the race, it’s easy to get confused and hit the wrong button when you’re facing the wrong way. It doesn’t help that the game keeps throwing variations at you to keep you off balance. The length of the stride changes, causing you to overstep. There are levels where you rush backward. There are obstacles that push and spin you around, slow you down, and otherwise make life extremely difficult.
Gaining control of your hippo is an exercise in futility, but gain you must if you want to beat your opponent to the goal line. A game like Clumsy Rush is, of course, meant to be played as a two-player party game. You can steal the crown from your opponent’s hippo by dashing at it with the A button. Hit it, and the crown will fall free. Dashing is a good way to move ahead quickly, too, as it’s pretty much the only way to get anywhere in a straight line. If you dash while wearing the crown, however, it will fall off your head, split in two and sprout feet, prompting you to chase it down in order to recover it.
As you’d expect, the levels get more complex as you progress. They get longer, the obstacles get tougher to navigate, and it’s suddenly taking you five minutes to complete a course that would otherwise be finished in 30 seconds. Multiply this by the 47 levels included with the game you can start to see how the frantic fun would start to wear off. You’d have to be either extremely competitive or in an extremely altered state to play them all.
Clumsy Rush is billed as a competitive party game, but it’s not one you’ll all be enjoying at once. Only two can play at a time (and in local multiplayer only), and once the novelty wears off for them it’s on to the next players. It is kind of fun watching friends wrestle with the controls, though. Did you ever play that game where you place your forehead on a standing baseball bat, spin around it 10 times, then stand back up and try to run to a goal line? You’re so dizzy that you can’t run straight, and you careen into a wall, giving yourself a major concussion much to the delight of everyone watching? That’s kind of what’s happening here, only without the brain damage.
The developers of Clumsy Rush know this, however, and keep the game colorful and breezy. The music is fun, the graphics are bright and basic (like racing on a birthday cake), and you have the option to choose from nearly 30 hippo characters, some of whom you’ll recognize.
And yes, there is a Donald Trump hippo. Do with that what you will.
Review: Clumsy Rush (Nintendo Switch)
At only $4.99, Clumsy Rush is priced to do exactly what it’s meant to do. Boot this game up when you’ve got friends and family over for the holidays, hand them a controller, and let the hilarity ensue. Everyone is going to want a turn, but don’t be surprised when they willingly give up their turn after just a few minutes.