Easy to learn, easy to master
2020 has seen a staggering amount of fantastic games released this year, which helps ease the ennui that inevitably comes from being forced to stay inside during this extended quarantine period. One thing that has been missing is an addictive couch co-op party game that doesn’t require a second console or computer to play, and while I’ve certainly enjoyed my time with Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, I’ll admit I was frustrated that I couldn’t play local multiplayer. Are the good old days of couch co-op being a standard in multiplayer just gone? Considering the enormous cost multiple consoles would incur for a household with multiple family members, especially children, do multiplayer games become cost prohibitive? Shouldn’t these games be more accessible?
That’s what Beyond Fun Studio believes in — accessibility with a focus on the multiplayer experience — and it’s exceedingly evident in their newest self-published title Aeolis Tournament. Available on Steam and Nintendo Switch for $14.99, this party game promises to please up to 8 players per match and supports both local and online multiplayer. And with a ridiculously simple control scheme, players of all ages can quickly get used to the ropes, feeling confident in their ability to succeed.
The premise of Aeolis Tournament is straightforward: use the power of wind to play six or so different party games either via quick play or tournament style. Play on two separate teams or a total free-for-all depending on your mood and the level, but ultimately the controls are always the same — use a single button to play. By way of “wind gun,” players can push others off platforms, pick up snowballs, hoard objects, or play football, soccer, or hockey. This mechanic-sharing aims to make for more accessible play, ultimately becoming a great title for children.
Since I don’t have 1 – 7 friends (*sigh*), I opted to play Aeolis Tournament against the computer, testing out the variety of difficulty settings. The player can change the settings before each round starts, choosing to play with 2 – 8 characters on the field, the number of minutes played, and whether or not “chaos mode” is turned on. There’s also a character select screen where players can choose from different characters, such as a shark, wolf, bunny, cat, and some humans. Said characters can be further customized by color, scheme, and various accessories to ensure there’s no confusion on the field. After everything is set, it’s time to get this party (game) started!
Testing out the computer’s AI in Aeolis Tournament yielded positive results — all difficulty settings felt true to form, with the caveat being that once you got pretty far ahead of the other characters, everyone sort of turned on you in a collective “blue shell” moment. Suddenly, the characters went from playing against each other to targeting you specifically, which is fine when your victory is all but guaranteed; it’s just interesting that it happens. Regardless, easy felt like easy, medium felt like medium, and hard was certainly hard.
When it comes to gameplay in Aeolis Tournament, there’s not a whole lot of diversity since they all use the same mechanic. While there’s definitely some interesting gameplay and it can certainly be challenging, it doesn’t feel like a game I could sit and play for hours due to the monotony of the mini-games. Then again, Mario Party isn’t all that fun as a single-player, yet I poured literal years worth of my life into those titles. Who’s to say Aeolis Tournament isn’t as fun with other players — what about that online multiplayer option after all?
Despite having all the proper setup required to have quickplay multiplayer across the globe, no one — and I mean no one — seems to be playing Aeolis Tournament. I tried for a good 30 minutes to get an online game going with any sort of parameters, but no dice. It seems that, unless I have a handful of potential players next to me, I’m on my own when it comes to Aeolis Tournament. Which, you know, is fine, and definitely not the fault of the game, but just be aware that the online multiplayer option, for the time being, feels nonexistent.
At the end of the day, Aeolis Tournament isn’t bad. It’s pretty fun, and is perfect for big family gaming gatherings, especially if there are little kids present. But there’s something about it that doesn’t quite get me excited. Maybe it’s the fact that all the games are so mechanically similar, or that the team sports games are basically the same, or that the characters don’t have a whole lotta “oomph” to them. Don’t get me wrong, Aeolis Tournament works and I can totally see this being a game kids get into, but anyone else older than grade school age might not be feeling this one.
Despite any hangups I experienced during my time with Aeolis Tournament, I will say it accomplished all its goals. It’s accessible — I can see kids as young as four getting the swing of this. It’s replayable — quick burst rounds give off that “one more go” gameplay. It features a focus on multiplayer — as there is no mode available with fewer than two characters on the field, you’ll always be playing against someone, even if it’s the AI. And the art is charming and colorful. Every box set by the developers ticked, it’s safe to say Aeolis Tournament represents a job well done. If you’re looking for more multiplayer action on your Switch and have children in your life, it’d be hard to go wrong with Aeolis Tournament.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC, Switch (reviewed); Developer: Beyond Fun Studio; Publisher: Beyond Fun Studio, NA Publishing Inc; Players: 1 – 8; Released: July 16 & 23, 2020; MSRP: $14.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Aeolis Tournament provided by the publisher.