The frantic co-op cook ’em up Overcooked was a big hit last year, bringing players together for couch multiplayer to try and work together in the kitchen and serve up enough meals to order before time ran out. Picking up two BAFTA awards it was simple, addictive fun – our original review is here – and now it’s come to Nintendo Switch. Released at the tail end of last week in the Overcooked: Special Edition bundle, this collects together the game and its two DLC expansions for Nintendo’s latest console.
One thing the Switch absolutely nails is the ease with which you can get a quick co-op game together and Overcooked embraces the individual Joy-Con wholeheartedly. Sure, you could share a gamepad with a friend in the PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game, but it’s up there on the scale of awkwardness with accidentally watching slightly risque films with your parents in the room… and them seeming to enjoy it. The Joy-Con, on the other hand, are perfect, and the game’s simple controls are only made awkward by the fact that the control layout has been tweaked to match Nintendo’s longstanding button labels.
HD Rumble is also a lovely addition to the game, noisy as it can be. The refinement of the rumble in the Joy-Con help give the sensation of rhythmically rubbing dishes clean in the sink, chopping up onions, and gives a nice thrum as you do a little dash to try and quickly get across to the other van on the motorway.
Of course, the Joy-Con can’t really fix the tricky sensitivity of the game’s controls. The number of times that you miss the plate or chopping board in the rush to try and get food served as quickly as possible will be innumerable as you take on each crazy kitchen set up, and if anything, the slightly smaller analogue sticks on the Joy-Con make that just a tiny bit trickier.
Chances are it’s more about you panicking and rushing to do everything though, frantically trying to keep track of who’s doing the chopping, the cooking, the washing up, serving plates, not to mention dealing with the increasingly ridiculous levels that have you dashing between vans, cooking on a fault line, slipping and sliding around on ice, and more. It’s fun, but it’s intense and stressful at the same time.
There’s the distinct possibility that you’ll be playing on a much smaller screen than your telly. Despite the smaller screen, however, the game feels right at home in both handheld and tabletop mode, and the game’s simplistic and chunky art style looks great on it. It feels a touch miniaturised when in your hands or begs you to lean in when playing tabletop co-op, but it’s crisp and sharp.
Docking and playing on a TV looks similarly great, living up to the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions of the game at 1080p, but there’s one caveat that threatens to spoil the broth, in the form of a shaky, stuttering frame rate. Skimming other sites articles, analysis – Digital Foundry have typically in-depth coverage – and other anecdotal reports and videos online, it’s something that affects some players more than others. The other console versions target and hit 30fps, but the Switch doesn’t quite get there for me, feeling like it’s in the mid-20s a lot of the time when docked, though perhaps a step closer to 30fps when running undocked. At the end of the day, it’s still playable, but depending on your sensitivity to frame rate, it may be a deal breaker.
Similarly, just going from level to level takes longer, with 10-13 seconds loading a level or the overworld map, compared to just 6 on Xbox One. Following a meeting with the Onion King, which propels the game’s light story forward, you can expect the game to simply hang for a disconcerting number of seconds before it loads up the world map.
The longer loading times are likely here to stay, but Ghost Town Games have already begun working on a patch for these frame rate issues. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if they had to drop the game’s resolution in order to do so, as was seen with Super Bomberman R, though it would be a shame if that were the case.
Overcooked and the Nintendo Switch are really a perfect match of frantic co-op cooking and a games console that’s all about taking games on the go and sharing them with people. Right now it’s difficult to wholeheartedly recommend this version though, given the widely reported frame rate issues. Here’s hoping they can cook up a fix sooner rather than later.