Welcome back to The Backlog, where we review games based on a certain genre each month. Last week, we started November with “cooperative” games, and we will dive into a game that makes both casual and YouTube gamers rage: “Pico Park.”
“Pico Park” was originally released in 2016 on Steam and was later ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2019. The game is a co-op multiplayer experience that can be played both locally or online and supports two to eight players at a time. The style is a simplistic 2D platforming experience with puzzles you have to solve. I first played it on PC with my little sister — luckily, she is the more cooperative of my two siblings.
The mechanics vary throughout the levels with very simple features. In some levels, the players are attached by rope and must rely on each other to get through to the end. Of course, this leads to many instances where you want to strangle your friends due to the craziness of the gameplay. Another feature is the ghost, which is present in some levels, and at least one person must be looking at the ghost in order to stop it from eliminating you.
Many YouTubers have played the game and uploaded some of the funniest videos on the platform. Rico The Giant and Smii7Y have videos showcasing the hilarious and chaotic mess that “Pico Park” and other co-op games provide. There is always that one player who either doesn’t understand the mechanics of the level, and it has to be spelled out for them, or the player who purposely sabotages the rest of the team because they like to watch the world burn.
The more players at a time, the more hijinx that will ensue. There are 12 groups of levels, with each having unique mechanics. In my playthrough with my sister, we struggled immensely with the Retro Game and Ball Park levels. The “Tetris” level wasn’t too difficult for us, but once we arrived on level 8-2, we wanted to throw out the entire PC. In this level, players are given hard hats and four balls. You have to use the balls to hit blocks at the top of the level and prevent the balls from hitting the ground, or else they are lost forever. I kid you not; this one took us a few days because players can easily block each other or prevent the other from jumping by standing on top of them.
As for the Ball Park levels, it was here that truly tested a gamer’s sense of timing and reflexes. While they start easy by teaching you that you need to jump in order to let the ball hit and break a vase, it quickly becomes tougher. We had barely made it through level 9-3, which felt like a harder version of 8-2. Instead of the blocks being at the top of the level, they are put in front of you as obstacles and must be destroyed, not to mention the fact that you have to release a key to the door at the end as well. If you are quick to anger and lack communication skills, then I wouldn’t recommend this game for you. But rage can make the experience funnier to look back on.
Overall, “Pico Park” does not impress through stunning visuals or innovative features. Where it excels, however, is in its compatibility for all players, no matter how much experience they have with video games. It’s a game that you could play as a family with a wide age range. I could play this with my 11-year-old sister or my mom who only plays “Candy Crush.” I appreciate how family-friendly it is, but be warned that it may end up destroying your friend group and your faith in humanity.