Poi: Explorer Edition Review

Publisher:  PolyKid

Developer:  PolyKid

MSRP: $29.99

Rated:  Everyone 10+

Release Date:  October 24th, 2017

Platforms:  Nintendo Switch

Rating: ★★★☆☆

If there is any genre of game that just feels like it belongs on a Nintendo system, it’s a platformer.  Mario led the way on the NES and many other classic platformers followed.  With Poi, the Switch has received its first competent 3D platformer, which unfortunately is instantly overshadowed by releasing only 3 days before Super Mario Odyssey.  In that regard, Poi is even closer to Super Mario 64 than Odyssey is, for better or worse.

Taking a very simplistic approach to story telling, you choose from 1 of 2 characters, a brother or sister, whom have chosen to runaway and start a life of adventure.  You’ll visit different worlds in search of Explorer Medallions, the game’s version of Stars.  Each time you jump into a world, you’ll be given a specific Medallion to track down, though you have the ability to explore further and potentially find others.

The similarities to Super Mario 64 don’t quite end in game design, as even the graphics have more of a N64 era feel to them.  You’ll even get to take on some interesting bosses at the end of each world.  They might not be as memorable as Mario’s bosses, which the same can be said for all of Poi’s enemies, they’re still entertaining.

While the nostalgia factor welcome, it does also present certain problems.  Replicating an older 3D era means the game doesn’t look that great.  It has a solid frame rate throughout so it will never slow down, the environments are not very detailed and look bland.  The controls can be a little oversensitive at times which can make you run off a narrow platforms at times.

With all that said, what really makes the game worth checking out are the smart level designs.  The worlds may look bland visually, but they are designed for some great platforming elements.  Several of the segments in the first world can be more challenging than a good chunk of anything you’ll find in Super Mario Odyssey.  It’s a satisfying challenge that makes you actually feel accomplished after you’ve made it to the top of a tower or completed a challenge.

It really is unfortunate that Poi was unable to make a release a month or two back.  If it had time to breath away from Mario’s latest adventure, you would be hearing Nintendo fans chattering much more about this title.  Going for the old school approach to design does present some problems with it trying to compete with modern  takes on the genre, but its solid platforming elements make this a game you really shouldn’t pass up.

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