A small but admittedly pretty game, Red Game Without a Great Name is a pretty straightforward affair; You play as a little mechanical bird who has to deliver mail. The bird travels forwards automatically, and you tap it on the touchscreen and drag to a point where you want it to teleport. After you let go, the bird will poof to the new location and continue moving. Throughout the game, you’ll be dodging traps that will try to kill you, with the goal of reaching the birdcage at the end of each stage. There are 60 levels in the main game, and each stage is relatively quick, so it won’t provide you with a particularly long play session, but there’s enough content there to slate your thirst for this kind of gameplay.
The gameplay is very simple, literally giving the player only one task; touch and drag. However, there are a few gameplay mechanics that are introduced in the levels to keep things fresh. For example, one of the first things you’ll experience is a gust of wind that changes the direction your bird flies in, which will force you to change where you place it to avoid certain death. The game often forces you to think and act quickly, which is crucial for a game with gameplay simple as this. It’s hard to say, even with the bells and whistles the game gives you, if there is enough to get you through the entire game. The story is non-existent, meaning you’re largely in it for the love of the gameplay.
Artistically, this game really delivers. The backgrounds are beautiful, and give the game a steampunk look. The foreground is equally well-made, with everything having a blacked-out, shadow effect reminiscent of those special levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns. It’s a simple, stylistic approach that works well, and allows the game to be more about function than form, while still giving it a distinct and rather beautiful look.
There are a couple of glaring faults with the design of this game that really detract from the experience. The first was something I noticed right off the bat: Dragging and dropping with your finger is really difficult if you’re right handed. Since the bird travels to the right, all of the obstacles you’re trying to avoid are also coming from the right. When you try to move the bird with your right hand, your hand covers a large part of the screen. Often, I’d find myself blocking my own view, which caused me to die and have to restart the level from the beginning. This could’ve been easily remedied by allowing the player to play in mirrored mode, making the bird move left if you so wished it, but there was no option for this in the game menu. This is one of those things that clearly wasn’t a problem when the game was being designed on PC, since the player would use a mouse to move the bird, but on the Switch it’s a real problem unless you’re playing Southpaw.
The second big problem with this game comes from the nature of the game itself. Being a touch-controlled game, you are forced to play it in Handheld mode on Switch. That means TV play simply isn’t an option, which will be a limiting factor for a lot of players. There’s nothing inherently wrong with touch-control gameplay, and in this type of game it really is a requirement, but players should know what they’re getting into before buying if they don’t enjoy playing off-TV on their Switch.
That said, there’s something here if you’re looking for a quick game to get a couple of hours of fun out of. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but there are certainly some people out there who will like it. Still, it might be best to get this game on PC if that option is available to you. For reasons stated above, this isn’t really the best version of the game to play, assuming you’re right handed. Still, if you just want a quick game to get you through a long car trip, it’s not a bad game to try. It’s definitely not a masterpiece, and it would honestly do just as well as a flash game on PC, but some work went into the art design, and besides being tethered to handheld and not being optimized for the system it’s on, there’s nothing really keeping you from getting some fun out of it.
Final Score: 2/5