I have been playing a lot of multiplayer games lately (last week) that I forgot to put some time aside for indie games. I remedied that by dedicating the entirety of this week to Cult of the Lamb. If you came here thinking that I will be talking about the new indie sensation, then you are wrong. This week I am going to fully talk about a hamster that sets out on an adventure to save its owner from a band of cat pirates. This week is Pompom: The Great Pace Rescue.
Pompom is a puzzle platformer/sidescroller from TOMO Camp and published under PID Games. The game was released in March 2022 for the Nintendo Switch and PC.
Go back up and read the second to the last paragraph. That is the story. One day you are running on that stupid wheel and then a group of cats just happen to barge into your home and steal your owner away. Again, it is up to you to remove the stigma that hamsters are useless and take down a whole fleet of cat pirate ships and save your human from the clutches of Captain Cat.
Pompom moves on his own without the player and the player takes the role of “bridge-builder” so that Pompom can achieve their goal. As Pompom walks to the right there are bubbles with various building materials that the player can utilize so that Pompom can get to their objective. Long and small horizontal blocks, right triangle blocks, balloons umbrellas, springs, scissors, hammers, and loads of other objects can be used to help Pompom traverse this dangerous world. Speaking of worlds, there are quite a few worlds that Pompom can visit: Toy land, city land, beach land, city land, and the list just keeps going. Each area has a number of levels inside that ends with a boss fight. With the building being as difficult as it is, the boss fights are, at times, incredibly difficult.
The building is as easy as placing the cursor where you want to build the object and click, but the difficulty lies within Pompom’s level design. Pompom can theoretically go wherever you want him to, given you have the resources to do just that, but there are obstacles in the way that could impede them from completing the stage. I am confident when I say that I never completed a stage on the first try. The difficulty really stems from not being able to see in front of you until the scroller scrolls to the next section. Checkpoints are few and far between so when losing can really hurt. Frustration never made me quit playing the game but it had made me put down the game on more than one occasion. See the pepper level.
The boss fights at the end of each world feel so unnecessary. They add a serious layer of depth to the already frantic pace of the puzzle solving. It is incredibly rewarding when you are successful in defeating a boss. There are points when the route to defeat a boss is so clear but because Pompom runs by itself it is kind of difficult to set up a plan that can really change at any moment.
The overall gameplay is precise and fun. It was really smart to add the ability to slow time to accurately place platforms that Pompom can jump on. I rarely used it but when I did use it, it was either life or death. The switching between each type of platform is easy and placing them is intuitive; clean gameplay for the most part.
Pompom is actually quite a beautiful-looking game. 16-bit games have this look and Pompom really nails the look. All the worlds have their own unique look and all have really beautiful environments.
The music fits the 16-bit era theme. It is pretty damn catchy stuff.
Pompom is an incredibly fun game. If you have some time that you need to fill, then Pompom is perfect. Entire worlds take a chunk of time to complete but levels are a breeze if you can do them perfectly. Pompom is a really appealing video game. The gameplay and looks drew me in, and I left really enjoying myself. It can be frustrating at times, but watching Pompom run across the stage while you are building bridges and spring pads to keep him alive is just plain fun. It does get annoying playing the same section repeatedly after not being able to adapt to the unknown next section of the screen.
Other than that, Pompom is a solid platformer with a unique mechanic that keeps the gameplay interesting and, for the most part, fun.