That amusingly weird bridge building game that shadow dropped on Switch.
While there are plenty of node bridge builders available on Nintendo Switch, I've been looking for the one that would break the mold. Hugecalf Studios provided the twist that I desperately needed in the form of When Ski Lifts Go Wrong. This utterly quirky game sees you creating ski lifts and trying to get passengers safely to the end goal. It takes a little while before the proceedings shift into second gear, but it is an enjoyable game throughout its run time.
The first half of the gameplay isn't unlike others found in the genre. The player places nodes in a graph paper playing field and has to create the optimal routes. With a large selection of building tools, When Ski Lifts Go Wrong takes some time to get used to. Every button is being used, ensuring that you can play it even on a television. In comparison to other games, it doesn't scatter itself to the point of confusion and creates a layout that just makes sense. After the tutorial and playing the first of the roughly 30 levels, I felt right at home with the title.
Obviously, the controls can't be complimented without mentioning the tools further. With the grid in place, you will immediately know what to make or avoid. The winter sports enthusiasts, who you are doing all this for, are easily breakable, with their ragdoll physics making them fly all over the place. In that sense, it is a sound idea to look at the materials and the type of lift you are going to make. Chairlifts are sturdier, but they swing hard when they come in contact with an object. The ultimate goal is to achieve success within a budget, though When Ski Lifts Go Wrong won't punish you if make something wilder. The game will applaud tighter efforts, but it shouldn't stop you from just carrying on.
While 30+ levels may seem short, I found myself replaying them multiple times. During my initial runs, I played it straight and wrapped a challenge up as soon as I could. When I better understood the logistics and layout, I made a more serious effort to tick every box. This isn't just about staying without a budget either as the game sees you collecting special medals or making something that simply doesn't fall apart. Completing challenges is where the true heart of this game lies, and it makes the proceedings continuously engaging.
Outside of building structures, there are even stages where you take directly control of a character. The challenges see you controlling the movement and jumping to ensure a safe path to the finish. The physics present aren't the greatest, but they do the trick well enough. When Ski Lifts Go Wrong implements various vehicles to throw you for a loop, too, which adds to the overall experience. Before I knew what was happening, I was making my way through deadly terrain on a snowmobile. Despite the cute polygon look, when someone falls to their death, they do leave a little bit of blood.
Next to the campaign, When Ski Lifts Go Wrong also offers a Sandbox Mode. You can make your own challenges, restrictions and levels of your wildest dreams right here. The tools are fantastic, but sadly and frustratingly, you can't share anything you create with others. In fact, the game's online functionality is extremely limited on Nintendo Switch, which makes it not the best version available. I was really bummed as I made something I was super proud of, only for one local friend to play it.
When Ski Lifts Go Wrong is one of the better bridge building games on Nintendo Switch. While I am quite disappointed that you can't share any challenges online, the content that is there is super enjoyable. The more than 30 levels are easily replayable multiple times, and it is fun to play around with the Sandbox Mode. What helps is that the controls feel built with a controller mind, instead of just trying to add in a less inferior scheme. Overall, Hugecalf Studios created a game I will gladly tinker with once in a while, which is an accomplishment in my book.