In a world full of 2D platformers it’s hard to stand out these days. Grapple Dog is a new arcade/adventure that is as challenging as it is adorable. The main character, Pablo, is a cute, dim-witted puppy who gains the power of a mighty grappling hook, giving him the ability to destroy evil robots and save the world from imminent destruction. Grapple Dog is obviously charming, but is it worth your time and money? Let’s take a look.

My first thought while playing Grapple Dog is that it reminded me of Wario Ware on the Gameboy Advance. Not the gameplay, but the graphics and music. I love the bold black outlines and the vibrant colors used in this game. And while everything is simplistic and sometimes even repeatitive, it’s fun to look at.

While playing through the first few levels, one might get the impression that Grapple Dog is a kid’s game, but I assure you, it’s not. As you progress, so does the difficulty. You’ll be using your grapple to get through most of the levels’ obstacles and large gaps, swinging from side to side and using the momentum of your grapple to get to new areas. Pablo also has a charge attack (similar to Sonic, when he bounces into enemies). You can use this ability to break barriers, destroy enemies and get a little more distance on some of your jumps.

The game consists of 6 different worlds, each with its own set of levels, bonus levels, and a boss at the end. In order to gain access to the boss level, the player must collect a specific number of purple jewels, all of which are hidden throughout each level. This is where Grapple Dog gets a bit more challenging. In most platformers, collectibles are just a fun, optional, side activity. In this game, you can’t progress unless you actually try to find some of the hidden goodies. It’s a great way to prolong the gameplay and gets the player to explore a bit more than they normally would on their first playthrough.

Bonus levels and bosses were probably my favorite part of this game. The bonus levels are kind of like mini games. Sometimes you have to collect a certain amount of fruit, other times you have to destroy all of the enemies within a set time. The better you do, the more jewels you get. Boss levels were fun just because they were more fast-paced and linear. Each boss is unique, giving Pablo a chance to use his few abilities to their full potential. You may find some of these bosses and levels to be absolutely infuriating. Especially when you’re trying to fully complete one and get all the items, and complete the time trials (each level has one of those too), it can be a bit overwhelming. But it’s worth it to push through.

Difficulty aside, Grapple Dog is actually fun and feels rewarding when you fully complete a level. You can even give Pablo a little “pet” to let him know he did a good job, which is super cute. My one complaint is the game’s background music. It’s the most annoying aspect, playing in the background of almost every level. I actually liked it when I first started playing, but after I heard it so many times I couldn’t take it any more. Luckily, there’s an option in the settings to lower the background volume, making the gameplay much more tolerable.

There are also a few ways to make your adventure a little easier. If you want a more relaxed playthrough, you can turn on infinite jumps or change it so Pablo doesn’t take damage. This would obviously be easy mode, but some players might find these useful and find the game more enjoyable with these settings turned on. Either way, it’s more fun for everyone when you have options. 

Grapple Dog is a really adorable, fast-paced game, with a lot of content for the price. I had a ton of fun playing it and plan to go back and try to get all of the collectibles. It’s a great filler if you’re waiting on some of the bigger 2022 titles to be released, or if you’re wanting a game to play with the kids. I highly recommend checking it out!