Cricket: Jae’s Really Peculiar Game is a Darling Mix of Earthbound and Mario & Luigi

RPG Fans Absolutely Need to Check Out Cricket: Jae’s Really Peculiar Game

 

Cricket | Featured

I wasn’t able to play all the games I wanted to at PAX West. One that was put on my radar was called Cricket: Jae’s Really Peculiar Game by Studio Kumiho. Mouthful of a title aside, I finally sat down to play Cricket today, and came away really happy with the Steam demo. If you’re a fan of the zany nature of EarthBound, but prefer the combat style of the Mario & Luigi RPGs, then you need to read about this title.

Cricket | Broccoli

The first thing about Cricket: Jae’s Really Peculiar Game that caught me was the emotional design. The music is really well crafted by the musical talents of none other than Tomoya Tomita (as well as Shane Mesa). It’s upbeat when it needs to be, and other times the tunes will have you holding your breath. While the vast majority of the Steam demo was pretty calm, there’s a gut punch near the end that shocked me, and made me pay even more attention to what was happening.

Cricket | Town

I was also really impressed with the visual style of Cricket. While the hand drawn characters don’t have any mouths on the world map, their portraits display a ton of personality. Main character Jae (nicknamed Cricket) is a very shy boy that just wants to get through his life in peace. His buddy Zack is loud, brash and full of unfounded energy. Perhaps because they’re such polar opposites, they work immediately as friends, and the artwork just cements their bond that much more. At times the artwork is outstanding, reminding me of the likes of Cuphead. It especially gets your attention in the stunning cinematic stills that bookmark the experience.

Cricket | Menu

Another great throwback is the flip phone menu screen.

None of this would matter if Cricket wasn’t a fun experience. Thankfully, I had a blast with the demo. You’re guided but also free to wander. Jae can acquire far off objects by crashing headfirst and knocking them down. Most all of the healing items in the game are some form of candy, from cookies to chocolate bars. Better yet, the world of the game is weird and charming. You’ll encounter angry helmet-wearing squirrels, diabolical flowers and more in the 45 minutes that the demo takes to play through. It all culminates in a great boss fight against a militaristic dandelion and his gigantic flower minion, who mostly attacks by hurling seeds at you and blowing pollen in your face.

Cricket | Boss

The combat is a highlight, and it reminded me fondly of the Mario & Luigi games. Though you only have two playable characters for the demo, it’s clear others will join your ranks over time. Jae went into battle armed with a rake and cape, while Zack popped foes in the head with punches. It’s all about timing, and good timing can inflict more damage and help you block incoming attacks. You also have something called a Tide Meter. By timing things properly, you’ll fill it up faster, and then can spend it to enhance your attack options. You can even slow down time to make it easier to block enemy assaults, but I mostly found that unnecessary. You can just watch the screen and press the proper button once the icons align, not unlike Guitar Hero.

Cricket | Score

You can also unleash Team Attacks once you have enough DP, which seems to increase every turn. In the demo, Jae uses his rake to launch Zack at foes in an epic tag team. You can even power these attacks up with Tide Meter, helping bring everything together. I didn’t have any real issues with the combat in the game, and even had to heal a few times. My only minor complaint was that the scores at the end of battle were a bit perplexing. I had perfect battles where I didn’t miss any inputs, and somehow got a score of C or F. Other times I got an A. There wasn’t any clear rhyme or reason to which, but hopefully that’ll be tweaked closer to release.

Cricket | Symphony

The demo ends with the aforementioned epic boss battle, and the emotional gut punch. Then a girl falls out of the sky using a traffic cone, and announces she’s heading to the moon to make a wish. Which sounds like madness, but the exact sort of madness I love. It all dovetails with the overall theme of letting go, and should shape up to an exciting adventure.

Cricket | Credits

The good news is, Cricket: Jae’s Really Peculiar Game is already a ton of fun. It’s slated to release sometime in December of 2023, and it also looks to gather funds via Kickstarter in the near future. If you’re at all a fan of turn-based combat and emotional storytelling, I’d say this is the game for you. Be sure and check it out and wishlist it on Steam. And stay tuned to HPP for more exciting upcoming indie adventures!

Josh Speer
Got my start in the industry at oprainfall, but been a game fanatic since I was young. Indie / niche advocate and fan of classics like Mega Man, Castlevania and Super Metroid. Enjoys many genres, including platformers, turn based / tactical RPGs, rhythm and much more. Champion of PAX West and Knight of E3.

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