Button City – Review
Follow Genre: Narrative Adventure, Arcade
Developers: Subliminal, Wings Interactive
Publisher: Subliminal
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS4, PS5
Tested On: Switch

Button City – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Simple and entertaining
Bad: Lack of depth
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Cutesy and simple games have been around forever. More often than not these games tend to be entertaining for a very short while and are often forgotten mere moments later. It’s typical for these games that they aim for style over substance. Button City is a new narrative adventure game banking on such a style, alongside the nostalgic topics it features, adding some depth to this cute experience. That being said, is this enough for it to stand out?

Story

Button City’s story follows Fennel, a young fox who has just moved to a new town alongside his mother. One day while doing groceries, Fennel overhears two other kids talking about the town’s arcade and decides to follow them. Upon arriving at the titular arcade, Button City, Fennel encounters a trio of Gobabots players. These players urge Fennel to join their team, the Fluff Squad. Together, the four of them will participate in a tournament against the Tuff Fluffs for the prized Golden Gobabot.

Unluckily for Fennel and his pals, the good times don’t last, as they soon discover a magnate called Pepperbottom has set his eyes on the arcade. From here on, the game’s story centers on the attempts made by the kids to prevent the surprisingly willing Mr. Button from selling his arcade. As the story progresses, the gang will come up with more and more convoluted solutions, while furthering their friendship.

Overall, Button City’s story is rather light-hearted and competently written, even if at times it is very childish due to the intended audience. Curiously enough, the game also dips its toes into certain gloomier and more realistic topics, including characters struggling with conditions such as depression or Alzheimer’s. That said, most of these characters are relegated to the sidelines and left without much exploration, although their inclusion is nonetheless welcome.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are competently made in a cutesy and colorful low-poly style akin to other games utilizing the Unity engine. Button City’s character and area design are also generally unique, although somewhat lackluster due to simple animations and lack of detail. Luckily, the game does a decently good job at managing to convey emotions with its minimalistic effects and animations.

Sound

Button City’s sound is quite good, with a surprisingly varied soundtrack including several genres and decent SFX. The game tries to spice things up by providing different tracks for the different minigames or events. Other than that, there is not much more to say about the overall sound design.

Gameplay

Button City describes itself as a narrative adventure, although a great part of its gameplay also belongs to the arcade genre. The main gameplay loop sees Fennel and his friends running around town, completing series of fetch quests, and complete very occasional puzzles. Alongside this, players are also given the option to engage with the game’s side content, consisting of additional side-quests and minigames.

The minigames featured in Button City are limited to three different types, namely Gobabots, rEVolution Racer, and Prisma Beats. Each of these has unique gameplay elements. Gobabots is a moba-like, Prisma Beats a basic rhythm game, and rEVolution Racer is (as its name implies) a racer with a focus on drifting. While the latter two are completely optional, only appearing in side-quests, Gobabots is prominently featured in the main story and features the most complex gameplay.

During each match of Gobabots, players and their AI-controlled team will be tasked with collecting berries around the map. In order score, they’ll have to throw them into a blender. Additionally, whenever players choose to challenge one of the townsfolk outside of story-related matches, they’ll be presented with a choice of different characters, each with their own stats and abilities.

Button City also has several different stores and two types of currency: coins and arcade tickets. While at first players will start with a small amount of both currencies, the game is extremely generous with them, providing more than enough to clean out all the shops. Both currencies can be obtained from the minigames and challenging townsfolk, although interacting with props in the environment can also drop a handful of coins. In shops, players will be able to purchase new Gobabots, decorations for Fennel’s room, costumes, and even extra modes for the minigames.

The main problem Button City tends to run into is its repetitiveness and lack of difficulty. Once players have gone through a few rounds of each minigame, they’ll have seen all of it. The only semblance of an exception to this would be Prisma Beats, since it already has the layer of challenge inherent to rhythm games.

Alongside this, it is worth noting Button City is a rather buggy game with plenty of issues in most minigames. Prisma Beats is generally the faultiest, with a recurring bug where the notes to tap don’t appear, but Gobabots also has problems with hitboxes and damage. More egregiously, some of these bugs may also even affect the main story matches, to the point of soft-locking them.

Conclusion

Button City is a serviceable and lighthearted game, appealing to a younger audience or those looking for a game to spend an afternoon with. Other than that, the game doesn’t have much to offer and lacks replay value due to its simplicity. At a selling point of $/€19.99/£15.99, it is recommendable to wait for a sale to pick up Button City. While charming as a whole, we would have loved to see some extra polishing.

Personal Opinion

“Button City is not a bad game, but it isn’t a good one either. Most of the experience is just fine; you go through the story, play a few minigames, and call it a day. The writing is marvelous but it works, and occasionally makes a chuckle-worthy pun, even if it tries too hard to get some of those to land. My main problem came with the pointlessness of everything else. After steamrolling a few NPCs on Gobabots so hard I could spend half the match without touching the controller, what did I accomplish? There was nothing, besides an obscene amount of credits, that pile up after you’ve bought whatever it is you wanted to buy. The same goes for the racing minigame which doesn’t even have the variety of characters Gobabots had. As mentioned during the review, Prisma Beats was the exception, because I honestly suck at rhythm games.”

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Button City - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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