With a focus on younger kids, Outright’s bringing spirited takes on Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, and more to Switch.
Something that has been lacking in the world of console video games are the inspired attempts at taking children’s licenses and making great games out of them. I’m talking DuckTales on NES or that Ronald McDonald game from Treasure on Sega Genesis. I’m also talking about the garbage that comes out of these situations, like Superman 64, but this is a core part of my childhood memories of video games that’s mostly gone to free-to-play mobile games. In comes Outright Games, the family-friendly video game publisher that is trying to bring this joy back to consoles.
Outright Games has been active on Switch, with some highlights being Transformers Battlegrounds and Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure. In 2021, they have a sizable lineup, ranging from Peppa Pig and PJ Masks games to The Addams Family and Fast & Furious. Their goal is to make games for the younger audience, and their 2021 lineup runs the gamut from toddler-focused adventures to, well, a Fast & Furious racing game.
Unbeknownst to those without kids, a well-made animated version of Fast & Furious has been on Netflix for years. This year, that cartoony brand of car racing adventures is making the leap to video games and from what we saw from a hands-off demo, it seems like a solid racer bringing about elements that blend street racing with a cartoony Mario Kart vibe. 3DClouds is behind the development, a studio behind the interesting pirate game King of Seas and a wealth of other racing games. The foundation is laid for something that looks like it’ll add some depth to the racing games available on Switch, especially if you have a kid with an interest in the show.
Fast & Furious Spy Racers: Rise of Shif3r, due out on November 5, aspires to take the fundamentals of a kart racer and then change the skin to resemble something closer to Dirt or Forza Horizon. 3DClouds pulled from their own past as well as other classics, like the first Need for Speed and criminally underrated Blur. I look forward to getting my hands on the final game to see if all these wonderful inspirations come together, because the promise is good.
The game features 17 tracks spread across five locations. Four of the locales are based on real world areas and the final one is in a Tron-like computer environment. It aims for a stable 30 frames per second on Switch and will feature two-player split-screen multiplayer as well as online for up to six players. Sadly, there will be no crossplay.
Fast & Furious isn’t the only racer 3DClouds is making with Outright Games this year, though. Another children’s property - Nickelodeon’s Blaze and the Monster Machines - is coming to Switch on October 1 with Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers. This skews a little younger than Fast & Furious, but seems to be carrying a lot of the same spirit of taking the kart racer and changing the skin for a different demographic. If we’ve learned anything from the legacy of Mario Kart, it’s that a good kart racer can appeal to virtually everyone. Blaze and the Monster Machines might not supplant Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch, but it certainly could complement it well, especially since it has helpful assist controls for younger players.
3DClouds isn’t the only developer working with Outright. Petoon Studios (the indie developers behind the upcoming “ratroidvania” Curse of the Sea Rats) is working on PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night for an October 29 release and this one speaks more to my interests, largely because I have a 3-year-old kid who enjoys himself some PJ Masks. It’s a 3D side-scroller that has the potential to be a smart entry-level action game for fans of the series. I can vouch that while my kid is shockingly good at several Mario games, it’s always nice to see a game that has a design philosophy focused specifically for him. From what I’ve seen of the game so far, it looks like it draws on some fundamentals of the genre, focusing on the PJ Masks heroes trademark abilities in ways that seasoned video game players can likely imagine how it can translate to platformers, with speed (Catboy), flight (Owlette), and strength (Gekko). Lost Vikings this ain’t, but the premise shares a little in common.
One of the Outright Games’ projects that most interested me is My Friend Peppa Pig, which veers more into storytelling in a way that seems to really align with the source material. I love that you just make your own character in the style of the show and just basically hang out with Peppa Pig. It seems inordinately chill and legitimately seems like a chance for your kid (or you, if you really want to) to be a part of the show. Watching the trailer, it just looks like the TV show. I would not have expected to be excited for a Peppa Pig game before I had kids, but here we are. This actually looks brilliant in a way I didn’t anticipate.
As a parent, I’m truly excited for this lineup from Outright Games. I hope they can thread the needle of making these games true to the licenses but also enjoyable to play, both for the kids playing the games as well as the parents playing with them. Who knows: maybe my kid will be writing about how memorable My Friend Peppa Pig was to him in 30 years as he longs for games for his children return to that level of fun and quality.