To the Arcade!
I’ve been curious about Button City since I covered the Wholesome Direct. There was just something about the mix of bright colors, humanoid animals and arcade games that spoke to me. So of course it wound up being the first game I got to demo during PAX Online East. Developed and published by Subliminal, it chronicles the exploits of Fennel the fox. It’s a story with tons of heart, heavily inspired by game culture and team based antics.
Right out of the gate, it’s clear Button City is completely adorable. Think Animal Crossing with cel shading, and you’re on the right track. What’s cool is there’s technically no light sources in the game, but the mix of colors creates an illusion of lighting. I found the setting and characters very engaging. There’s no NPCs here. Every character has a bunch of personality on display, and they’re all named after various spices. But by far my favorite character is Chive the rabbit. She’s a genius engineer that’s snarky and also wheelchair-bound. And I live for every naughty or topical statement that comes out of her mouth.
I actually got to play the full version of Button City, but I treated it as a demo. Thankfully the developers watched me play and provided a running commentary to explain their influences and creative choices. It’s clear to me the folks at Subliminal put everything into this game. They even went so far to put themselves into the game as the Scrub Squad. A gang of gamers that start out pretty bad, but gradually get more challenging as you play. And one of my favorite parts about the game is how you can warp from one area to the next, and each is set up like a diorama.
Most of the game seems to revolve around quests, arcade minigames and small puzzles. Most of the action takes place in the town arcade. I got to play a multiplayer game called Gogabots, but there’s several others. In Gogabots you play a fruit robot in a team of 4. Your job is to harvest fruit and toss it in the blender. Toss more fruit than your opposing team before the clock runs out, and you win. The tricky thing is you can attack other players. If you lose all your health, your fruit is dumped, and you have to respawn. You can use regular and special attacks, but it mostly is a fast paced, simple game with some nuance.
You’ll also gradually get closer to your Fluff Squad team as you play. There’s some real depth here, such as Chive’s grandpa slowly losing his memory and forgetting who Chive is. It’s heavy, but in a lighthearted way that still has a lot of charm. And given there’s several chapters to get through, I can see Button City being quite appealing to a large audience.
Best of all, Button City has just been announced as coming to several consoles besides Steam. Those consoles include Nintendo Switch (probably the best choice), PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. And all versions will be coming early August. So if you need a chill and darling game to spend some time with, I’d keep Button City in your sights. And be sure to check out the trailer below!