Browsing the storefront on the Nintendo Switch, you could be forgiven for passing over a game with pixelate visual and a title of Radical Rabbit Stew. Though on first glance it seems like yet another example of the many questionable titles on the eShop, Radical Rabbit Stew is in fact a well-designed puzzle game that fits perfectly on Nintendo’s hybrid console. Developed in Sweden by Pugstorm AB, Radical Rabbit Stew starts with your job at Galaxy Diner being interrupted by a series of rabbits causing chaos, and it’s up to you and your trusty spoon to bring back some semblance of normality.
Radical Rabbit Stew gives off the impression of being a puzzle game, but it can equally be labelled as an action experience and as an homage to games of the past. There are sections that are reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog, mechanics that would feel at home in Bomberman, and combat sections that would feel at home in the early Legend of Zelda games, but Radical Rabbit Stew does a great job of bringing all these various components together to create something new. It isn’t an especially long experience, and never really proves to be too difficult, but over the course of its runtime, it is never afraid to throw something new at the player, and never feels like it needs to overexplain what you’re supposed to be doing.
In some games, this lack of explanation would come at the detriment of the experience, but in Radical Rabbit Stew, it adds to the already fact pacing, and allows the player to experiment with any new mechanic at their own speed, rather than having to sit through pages of text that go over every single variable. At predetermined points in the campaign, you will unlock new types of spoon, which effectively function as new tools or weapons, including stronger hit strength, grappling hooks and explosives. At the same time, you’ll start to encounter new enemies and obstacles that require different approaches and tactics, as well as boss fights that test just how well you’ve picked up the new mechanics.
These boss fights are a great example of the sense of humor that is spread through the game, and without trying to spoil all of them, I wanted to point out that the first battle is against a dog wearing bunny ears named Pugs Bunny, and I had a smile on my face the entire time. In fact, I was smiling for a lot of Radical Rabbit Stew’s runtime, partly because of how much I was enjoying myself, and partly in admiration of the level and puzzle design. Pugstorm AB clearly have a great understanding of what makes their game work, and the confidence that oozes from the game is palpable. This confidence even seems to spread to their faith in the player too, as I never felt that the game was trying to hold my hand more than was absolutely necessary.
As mentioned previously, Radical Rabbit Stew isn’t an especially long experience, and this comes down to a couple of different reasons. The first is that the game is never particularly difficult, and the second is that each level can be completed in a couple of minutes, which means that the entire game can be completed in three to four hours. As you progress to the latter parts of the game the levels do get a little more involved, and there is the option of collecting extra challenge coins in most areas, but there isn’t much reason to return to completed areas once you’ve finished the game. In a way, this prevents the experience from overstaying its welcome, but I was still a little surprised when I realized that I was on the final stretch.
I didn’t have any expectations for Radical Rabbit Stew when I first booted it up, but I was largely delighted by what I found within, particularly in terms of both the design and the presentation of each level and of the game as a whole. This isn’t a long experience, and it won’t present as much of a challenge as some puzzle fans might hope for, but I eagerly gobbled up each level and still wanted more once the credits rolled. Radical Rabbit Stew is a great fit for the Nintendo Switch with levels that work perfectly for a handheld experience, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a pick-up-and-play puzzler to play on the go.