Summer Catchers is an adorably crafted 2D side-scroller adventure racing game. Developed by indie company FaceIT and publisher Noodlecake Studios, it follows the story of a young girl named Chu as she chases after summer. Having grown up in the frigid north, she journeys out in a raggedy beat up wooden race car searching for a warmer and more brighter future.
I suppose you could say the car and her are the main protagonists of Summer Catchers. While she operates and builds the vehicle, the machine is what gets her through creepy forests, frost covered mountains, urban cities, and sand dunes. All of which are showcased in beautifully detailed and colorful pixel art.
By using the car, Chu must outfit it with unique upgrades to get through the terrain. The front can be equipped with a sturdy bumper to run through blockades like rocks and snow drifts. While the tires shocks can be extra springy to launch the car over spike pits and boulders. Once these additions are purchased, the player can set off south towards summer.
Each level is a lengthy ride through difficult terrain. While driving, three of the items you purchased pop up on the right hand side of the screen for you to choose from. Without knowing what’s ahead, you have to use the modifications you bought in order to successfully make it through the zone. The best and worst feature of this is they show up at random.
If you get hit a certain number of times, the car will explode into a thousand tiny pieces, leaving you to begin again. However, you won’t start over from the beginning, rather you will be sent to the shop again where you can then choose more upgrades. It’s here that you will meet Summer Catcher’s many other characters with their own side-quests. Starting over isn’t annoying or aggravating. The level will reset and replace challenges with different ones so it never gets stale. The one thing that is bothersome is how you choose the items for your car.
I played on a PC without a touch screen so I had to use the mouse. While it worked fine, I felt I could never click the upgrades quick enough in some circumstances. Having a touch screen definitely improves the experience.
The quests aren’t a burden or standard side-quests, instead they are a way to unlock new features to aid you on the journey. Many allow other animals to warn you of hidden dangers on the path ahead of you or let you pick and choose from more upgrades. Once you complete each task, you must traverse through enough of the level to reach the next area. This is usually established through a cutscene or with a boss chasing you.
The music of Summer Catchers is noteworthy as well. The driving tracks are pleasant and soothing and feel at home as the backdrop to a coffee shop or tunes for your own road trip. While the sound effects like the squeaking of the car make it feel as old and worn out as it looks.
Summer Catchers is a relaxing tour through delightful worlds while relying too much on the same mechanics. It’s challenging without being overwhelmingly difficult but the mechanics are lacking. I’d rather drive through the various levels controlling the various upgrades myself. Sometimes simpler is better.
Summer Catchers: 6/10
Available on: Steam, Mac
Publisher: Noodlecake Studios
Genre: Arcade Racer
Release Date: July 16, 2019