FIGHT THE POWER!
An evil corporation has taken over the cities of the world, brainwashing its citizens into complacency. Are you gonna take that sitting down? Of course not, you know it’s time to show the man what for with some good old fashioned anarchy, or should we say Anarcute? This is the central premise behind Anarcute, a game originally released for the PC in 2016 that is now rioting its way onto the Switch. A beat-em-up centered around gathering a crowd and sticking it to the authorities, Anarcute makes the problematic idea of anarchy much more approachable with the simple addition of cute animals.
You play as a group of protestors making their way through various major cities on Earth, starting in Tokyo and working their way to the rest of the world as they go. Starting as a small group of one to four rioters, the goal is to grow your mob to an intimidating size and using that group to complete the various objectives of a given level, ranging from capturing a number of flags or destroying certain buildings throughout the map. Getting closer to the sleeping animals on the street or in cages will cause them to join your group, and the more people in your group the more abilities you’ll have access to. Your mob’s abilities range from a large stomp that can move big objects to being able to rip buildings down with their bare hands. Finishing levels will reward you with a coin which can be used at a vending machine to purchase more equippable abilities.
Playing Anarcute is overall an incredibly satisfying experience, but it’s not without its problems. As one would expect, the act of controlling a large katamari of malice can sometimes feel as awkward as trying to control a riot in real life. Characters often feel like your control inputs are merely being taken into consideration instead of considered instructions for where to go. Sometimes it even feels like they’re fighting your input in favor of going where they want. Characters regularly don’t stop moving when you stop pushing the analog stick, leading to slightly frustrating moments where you’re expected to weave between obstacles with a mob that cannot fully be controlled. Though these sound like they’d be major annoyances in any other game, they actually tend to be more minor inconveniences.
There’s not a lot to Anarcute, playing for long periods of time will probably result in realizing how similar each level is. The game shines brightest when played in short bursts a few levels at a time, ideally while shouting things like “FIGHT THE POWER” and “DOWN WITH THE MAN.” The gameplay is fun and varied enough to get you through a lunch break or while waiting for classes to start back up, but probably not any longer than that. Unlockables outside of the purchasable abilities consist only of other animals found by rescuing them in levels that can join your riot, from cats to axolotls to jellyfish, but these are entirely aesthetic changes and don’t change the gameplay at all.
Despite its generally low amount of content, Anarcute is enough fun to keep you playing to the end, with the full package making it incredibly difficult to count the little game out. I found it impossible to ever be in a bad mood while playing this game, spending my sessions bouncing my foot to the incredibly upbeat soundtrack while sending my cat army to throw a gas truck at a group of fascists and shouting about how I was going to “tear down the PETriarchy”. It’s good old fashioned chaotic fun, and in the end it doesn’t really need to be anything else to succeed at what it’s going for.