Eagle-eyed readers of Indie Gamer Team might have noticed a bit of a pattern to my reviews. I like to tell stories, I like to connect a game and the experience of playing it with how that relates to my life and how that affects my experiences. It’s a formula that I utilise for a variety of reasons, from the justifiable, to the ones that come purely from, I admit, laziness. If I follow the same kind of pattern with every review, then readers will know what to expect, I will know what to write, and since this discloses biases, I think it ends up making me more honest and transparent when it comes to my opinions.
Crayola Scoot, however, places itself in a bit of an interesting situation. It has definitively had an impact on my life, that I can say, but at the same time, that impact cannot be separated from some of its weaker elements, at least as far as I see them. Really, Crayola Scoot is a far from perfect game, and that places me in a weird position because Crayola Scoot is also incredibly fun. Objectivity, at least when it comes to game reviews, is a goal that seems impossible to reach, but I will do my best to talk about the game in a fair and balanced manner, so maybe I should start from the beginning.
I first saw Crayola Scoot on Twitter as some people I follow indicated that Crayola Scoot was similar to Jet Set Radio, one of my favorite games of all time. At the time, the game was not out yet and I kept scrolling, but it stuck in the back of my head. Following, like I do, people such as the Indie Gamer Chick, hidden gems passing through my screen is not uncommon. Indeed, I probably see close to a dozen each day, but Crayola Scoot stood out.
It might have been my wanton need for more Jet Set Radio content, or it might have been the fact it looked fun but, though I scrolled away that first time, the game was in the back of my mind and it had nested there. The game was there when I was browsing the new releases in a game store when I looked for Tony Hawk alternatives on Steam, and I saw its ninety percent off discounted price, so I had to have it.
I actually bought Crayola Scoot twice. After first getting it on Steam and realising it wasn’t playable without a controller, because really, I just don’t look at requirements before making purchases. So I turned around and I bought it on PS4, and it’s been on PS4 that, for the past few days, I’ve been enjoying it.
There’s another comparison that is often made than just Jet Set Radio, and that is to Splatoon. Everything from the aesthetic to the objectives in the game screams turf wars, ink rollers, and other terms that I had to ask someone who actually owned a Wii U to tell me. While just playing the game, a friend who happened to be hanging out, commented on the similarities. And indeed, even though I have never played a Splatoon game, I can see them. Through the use of tricks, one splats and drops ink everywhere, with every successful stunt and trick covering the map with more of it. The bright characters and environments didn’t exactly make the comparison harder.
A lot of the game modes take that approach and comparison, and run with it. There’s a mode where players try to fill as much of the map as possible with their color, and the team or player with the most paint splattered in the end wins, for example. It, personally, that always reminded me of Crash Bash and not Splatoon, but I’m weird like that.
But I will be honest, it was not the prospect of releasing as much color into the world as possible that did it for me, it was the Tony Hawk like tricks and stunts. This is an aspect of the game that is both at the same time underdeveloped and deep enough to be super fun, probably the most fun part of the game even. By pushing the right analog stick up your character can jump, hold it they jump higher. With the wild variety of half pipes and skatepark-like features sprawled around the worlds gaining air is easy and fun.
Once in the air, depending on the direction pressed on the right analog stick, one can do front flips, back flips, rolls or other kind of wild and crazy maneuvers. Playing with the system gives the expected named tricks and contortions of your character’s body, but at its heart it’s all there, if you don’t count grinding with L2 which manages to be as rewarding as air tricks, they are all that’s present in the game.
I pick up a lot of games for review because they remind me of series from my childhood. I picked up Super Tennis Blast because it reminded me of Virtua Tennis. I picked up Effie because it reminded me of Rayman 2 and Gex. Picking up Crayola Scoot reminded me of games like Tony Hawk. Though that’s the biggest name I could mention, it reminds me of a hundred more. Aggressive Inline, David Mirra BMX, Coolboarders, and SSX… really, the list could keep going and going, but what I want to make clear is that it follows in the same vein as early 2000’s and late 90’s extreme sports games. During that time all that mattered was seeing in how many ways you could mix up and twist the controller to make yourself shine in the air.
A common complaint that I’ve heard about the game is that it lacks online multiplayer, that if it’s based on or is a tribute to Splatoon, online multiplayer is a must. I disagree with such an assertion. However, in my opinion, the dual focus between activities where painting is the key to victory, and the ones where tricks and combos are the way to win, hurts the final product. The developers at Climax Studio attempted to balance it out by making it so performing tricks creates a bigger blast of paint, but let’s face it, you won’t have time to pop elaborate tricks in the middle of a paint tossing contest. Even though it tries to play for both sides, and while I have a clear preference on which I enjoy, it still manages to be fun. More than fun, it managed to unite my family.
I have a younger sister. A sister who’s barely 6 and who is not particularly interested, or good at video games. While I, at her age, was playing through Mega Drive, Game Boy Color, and PlayStation games, she hasn’t quite figured out that one can move and jump at the same time in 3D platformers. Crayola Scoot let me connect with her through gaming in a way that I had rarely done. While the controls might have seemed unconventional and weird to me, after all, why wouldn’t X be used for jumping instead of relying on the right analog stick, however, they sat just right with her.
As I completed Crayola Scoot and gained money to spend on accessories and pieces of clothing as a reward, something that also reminds me of Splatoon, she joined in on the fun. At first it was just telling me what to do or giving me directions on when to jump. She ended up pointing out when there were splashes of color that were not my own that I could cover.
Eventually, my sister wanted to play as well. This I must concede to Crayola Scoot, though there is no online multiplayer, the split screen one works without any drops in framerate or cut corners. We cruised on the interesting, if somewhat small, worlds, mostly just played hide and seek, tag, and did grinds together. As I taught her how to do tricks, and when she looked at me with expectations in her eyes, wanting to see if I had seen the maneuver she had managed to pull, it hit me.
Crayola Scoot is a kid’s game. It’s simplified, it’s limited, and it can’t hold a candle to games that specialise on either of the two things it tries to do. It’s not an extreme sport game, even a scooter based one, and it’s not a competitive paint based game; it’s its own thing. A mish mash brimming with color and possibility, more than that, more than what it is not, it’s a Seal Winner. A game I’m glad to have added to my collection.
Crayola Scoot was developed by Climax Studios and Published by Outright games
It is available on Steam for $19.99, and for $29.99 on PlayStation 4, XboxOne, and Switch.
The reviewer bought a copy of the game to review
Mcportugalem has awarded Crayola Scoot the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval