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Mario Party and Pokemon Stadium Are Key Ingredients for Multiplayer Party Game Cake Bash

by Neal Ronaghan - September 28, 2020, 10:36 am EDT
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Check out the Switch demo on the eShop today.

Check out the Switch eShop today for a free demo of Cake Bash - a frantic and fun new multiplayer-centric party game from Coatsink and High Tea Frog. It’s a wild game, inspired by the likes of Mario Party and Pokemon Stadium, where you try to make your cupcake the tastiest of them all across a variety of game modes and mini-games.

The origins were preheated in the oven at Ubisoft, as the two full-time developers at High Tea Frog, Laura Hutton and Clement Capart, refined their game-baking talents there, working on everything from The Division and Far Cry 4 to Grow Home and Atomega. In 2017, the pair decided to leave Ubisoft to make their own games, very much inspired by their quirkier Ubisoft work on the team that made Grow Home and Grow Up.

After some experimentation, they settled on making Cake Bash, a four-player party game with gameplay and strategy that calls to mind a wealth of vintage Nintendo games as well as games from their former employer’s past. Hutton detailed Pokemon Stadium as a core inspiration, primarily due to the simple button inputs of the Nintendo 64 game’s mini-games. The goal with Cake Bash was to keep it simple and approachable. Other games Hutton and Capart listed as inspirations include Mario Party, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Crash Bash, and Power Stone. From my brief time with Cake Bash, those all ring true. Sometimes the label “mini-game” can be pejorative, but Cake Bash does a great job of making that core mini-game experience very enjoyable for both its variety and the lunacy of the daffy concept.

A freshly announced mini-game is Wasp Attack, which provides a good example of how these mini-games play out. All four cupcakes wield spatula heads and run around a circular arena. It’s the aftermath of a picnic, so wasps are hovering around the sweet and salty leftovers. Each cake tries to time their swats to take down the wasps, with a bonus multiplier for successive swats. It’s cute and funny while still being fiercely competitive.

13 different mini-games and modes make up Cake Bash, with a standard arena combat mode as well the mini-game highlight: the delightfully ridiculous Fork Knife, which adapts Fortnite to the world of cupcakes as four cakes avoid flying cutlery on a shrinking cake.

Everything can be played locally, online, or with bots (at launch, there’s no cross-play, but that’s definitely something on the table for the future). It’s an expansive tableau with many different options, though Hutton and Capart always strove for simplicity. Cake Bash made its public debut in 2018 with only three modes. The feedback led to iteration that refined the recipe. Hutton gave the example of how players could be stunned during combat. They would have to wiggle with the analog stick to get out of a stun, but it wasn’t intuitive. Instead, the stun move just became a few moments of delay before the character was automatically controllable again. The core mechanics changed a lot during demos throughout various venues, whether it was in person at events like PAX or at-home during the Steam Games Festival. Interestingly, Hutton said she preferred the at-home demos, because the feedback was usually a lot more direct and helpful. When people play games at events, they often hold back because the developers are literally right next to them. Hutton said that being able to see blunter feedback helped a ton to make Cake Bash the best game it could be.

The final game, due out on October 15 everywhere but Switch (the Switch version hit some last-minute COVID-related delays; it shouldn’t be too much longer), is headlined by the Get Tasty mode, which features seven matches alternating between cake-bashing combat and mini-games. Mini-games are unlocked when played in Get Tasty, and that centerpiece mode also brings about new flavors of cakes (the pastry form of skins).

On the topic of cupcake skins and flavors, I asked Hutton and Capart about what Nintendo cameos they’d most desire. One of their answers wasn’t shocking: Kirby. Kirby eats a lot of sweets, so he’d be right at home in the world of Cake Bash. Maybe there’s some legs in a mode where players avoid being sucked up by a sizable pink puffball. The other answer was Piranha Plant, a cake that Hutton guessed would be like a carrot cake. There’s amiibo out there for both of those; open up the doors for more indies to use your amiibo, Nintendo.

Cake Bash certainly seems like an enjoyable party game, and thanks to online play and bots, it should have legs even in the weird stay-at-home times we are in. Hopefully Switch players won’t have to wait too much longer for the full game, but we can all enjoy the demo now at least.

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Genre Action

Worldwide Releases

na: Cake Bash
Release Nov 19, 2020

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