Who could've thought that exploring a body would be so adorable?
''This belongs on Switch!'' is something I hear about games all the time. This isn't done out of wanting to win a console war, but rather the desire to have as many quality experiences as possible on the platform. For me, however, Vitamin Connection evokes that other meaning of the phrase. There aren't many titles that feel made solely with the platform in mind, and this is exactly what WayForward's latest is shooting for. It brings back memories of the Nintendo Switch day one, where experimental ideas like Snipperclips flourished. Unlike that game, however, this is a game that can be enjoyed by most, regardless of their set-up.
Vitamin Connection sees you stepping into the roles of Vita-Boy and Mina-Girl, who have to move their Capsule Ship about and destroy viruses. These nasties have taken over vital segments of the body, and it is your job to clean house. Every level represents a member of the Sable family, who go through their own set of trials and tribulations. In the initial level, you will have to save a kid in time for a school trip. It is here that you learn the ropes of destroying bacteria and understand the intricacies of the level design.
The game immediately knows how to reel you in. Vitamin Collection has one of the most spectacular presentations I've seen in a Nintendo Switch eShop title. The cutscenes, characters, and overall design philosophy remind me of a saturday morning cartoon. Even within the gameplay, Vitamin Connection never skips a beat, which is honestly impressive. Furthermore, the music. Oh my goodness, the music. It elicits the sensibilities of Japanese radio shows with non-stop and constant reminders of what you're playing. Combine that with voice acting that makes everything come alive, and you’ve got a prescription for success.
Speaking of gameplay, you might be wondering what you will be doing in Vitamin Connection. Alone or with a buddy, players guide the Joy-Con looking ship through a maze-like environment. In co-op, one side moves and shoots the Vitamin Beam while the other player rotates and aims. In the solo mode, your actions are spread out over the controller, making it surprisingly doable. There are some trade-offs, and it will make a few sections harder, but I made it through both ways. Vitamin Collection asks a lot of you, with the Vitamin Beam only usable for a limited time. It doesn't particularly help that the body is full of dead ends and enemy traps, forcing you to backtrack a few times.
Along the way, you will come face-to-face with various enemies and obstacles that don't know when to stop. These will constantly keep you on your toes and require some specific moves to overcome. For example, there are strings that block your passageways. The strings consist of one color, and this dictates how you will need to approach them. In another scenario, you will have to tow obstacles in order to clear the road. Every segment in every level introduces new mechanics, which makes traversing the level even more spectacular. Some might require a learning curve—the claw is certainly one of them—but each level is incredibly well put together. I think what really sells Vitamin Connection to me is that I'm never bored while playing. Even at the low-key moments, the game showers you with enemies and trinkets to collect, making the journey through a fruitful one. You can fast forward if you really want to keep trucking, though I wouldn't recommend relying on it.
Between the flying segments, you will naturally reach the vital organs that need to be restored. You will face off against an organism that really doesn't know when to quit. They will challenge you to special sub-games that will test your coordination skills like never before. One favorite is a play on the buzz wire game, where both sides have to be brought into position to make it to the end. My co-op partner and I had to constantly adjust our movements and discuss every step we took. Another example is a dancing minigame where you will move, tilt, and clap along with the music. Every round, new icons are added to test your limits. These games can also be played separately from the main menu, allowing you to hop in for some quick fun. It gave me a strong Snipperclips vibe, which I very much appreciate. The main body levels take about 25 minutes, and you can't quit midway, making the sub-games a nice alternative.
Vitamin Connection offers a lot of content in my eyes. While the pool of levels may seem small at first, I found them highly replayable. There is a drive to improve your scores, perform better at the sub-games, and make your movements a bit tighter. After you wrap up the first journey, there is also a New Game+ mode with a new set of challenges. These made me excited all over again, and changed the story in a major way. I shouldn't give too much away, but honestly, it easily doubles the game's length. Finally, there are more obstacle courses for each of the minigames within Vitamin Connection. They almost become little games in themselves as you want to improve here as well.
All in all, Vitamin Connection is one of the best games on the Switch eShop, period. While there is a little backtracking to be done, the game just glides by and is a smooth experience all the way through. The levels are rich with fun obstacles and challenges that test your skills. In addition, the sub-games break up the gameplay in a non-intrusive way, making for fun surprises. Most importantly, however, I absolutely love the presentation. The whole look of the game made me grin constantly, with colorful characters and funky Japanese music taking charge. No matter if you're playing alone or with a pal, Vitamin Connection is made with this system in mind.