It's new Super Mario Bros 2 but with more onions.
If you’ve ever wished for a combination of Nintendo indie darling Gunman Clive with Super Mario Bros 2 (USA), then Onion Assault may just be your dream game. It presents a gauntlet of challenging levels, giant bosses, and plenty of onions, all with developer Bertil Hörberg’s signature polish. Progression is separated into four worlds, each containing four individual levels. The last of these is capped off with an impressive boss battle.
Mechanically, Onion Assault is extremely simple. Your move set consists of a run button, a jump button, and the ability to pluck items from beneath you. This can be used both to dig items out of the ground (usually onions), or to pick up enemies while perched on their head. As levels progress, the variety of items you’ll dig up as well as the application of them develops somewhat. You may need to toss an onion into a canon to fire it at a breakable wall, or at a switch beyond your reach. You may dig up a bomb that can clear an obstacle or tough enemy but will also explode shortly if not quickly made use of.
On a technical front, Onion Assault is essentially flawless. Image quality is clear and crisp regardless of playing docked or in handheld mode. Likewise I never witnessed the frame rate straying from its 60fps target. The fact that this game was developed specifically for Switch is evident. The art design seems intentionally clean and often parodies the rhythmic dancing of the New Super Mario Bros series. Enemies, coins, and chunks of the environment move in perfect sync with the music in every stage. The worst I can say about the art is that there are certain level themes that wind up looking a little bland, while others look excellently fleshed out.
Where Onion Assault is at its best, and where it separates itself from its obvious Super Mario Bros 2 inspiration, is in its boss fights. Bosses are generally large mechs. Some you’ll need to climb on top of in order to pick them up and toss them to do damage. Others will require you to grab items from the environment to fight them with. Each one is unique and genuinely fun to engage. That being said, they aren’t easy. Onion Assault in general is a very challenging game, and it sometimes feels like that challenge doesn’t always come in a smooth curve. Arbitrary levels from the first couple worlds were often more difficult than levels near the end of the game. Difficulty spikes abound, and the less than generous checkpoint system may cause frustration for those not looking for a tough 2D platformer. But for those who are, Onion Assault will make for an excellent few hours of platforming challenge.