Review: Poi: Explorer Edition (Nintendo Switch)
- Release Date (NA): December 24, 2017
- Release Date (EU): December 24, 2017
- Publisher: PolyKid
- Developer: PolyKid
- Genres: Platform, Adventure
- ESRB Rating: Everyone 10 and up
- PEGI Rating: Three years and older
- Also For: Computer, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Super Mario Poi
Poi, like most other modern 3D Platformers, borrows a fair few mechanics from a certain game series featuring a plumber in a red hat with a mustache, and boy does it borrow a lot. To start, the general story of Poi is that two orphans, and unnamed boy and girl that you can swap between, are tasked with helping an old man find some "Explorer Medals" that he had lost/misplaced in various areas in the world of the Milky Way Globe, and that's kind of it. Poi has no real story beyond this, beyond some small backstory on the old man, so you won't need to focus all that much on anything but platforming. To get around, you pilot the airship owned by the old man by pointing it at the world you want to go, where you're taken to a level select screen, and then you're popped into the world. You enter the level via parachute, with your task being to find the Explorer Medal associated with this particular level. Generally speaking, medals are gotten in your average 3D platforming style. You do some basic jumps and flips, collect some items or flip some switch to gain access to the Medal, and bam you're done. So what all does Poi "borrow" from Mario games? Triple jumps, side somersaults, enemies that bear a striking resemblance to Goop monsters from Super Mario Sunshine, a world that is basically a slightly modified Bianco Hills, a level select in each world essentially ripped from Super Mario 64 with a similar progression route (find "Explorer Medal, AKA Mario Star in a level of world, enter new level of world to find it's changed slightly so you can get another medal, one level is dedicated to collecting 7 "keys", another is 100 coins etc etc) and various other bits and bobs that are pretty obvious as you play.
Thankfully, all the things that Poi borrows are at least executed in a pretty decent fashion; nothing feels out of place and the way levels are designed make the game good for just a quick pick-up-and-play session. The general gameplay of Poi works well, the physics aren't too floaty, the controls feel pretty responsive and well thought out, and the platforming isn't overly difficult or annoying. There are a couple collectibles besides Explorer Medals in each world for you to find, mainly fossils, lost gears, and unique locations names which can be turned in for rewards. Unlike most collectathon games, Poi's collectibles have a more "achievable" feel, instead of requiring hours and hours of searching for those 2 or 3 hard to find hidden collectibles, you can probably 100% a world including all levels in just 2-3ish hours which is, to be honest, a major plus in my book. There are your average platformer enemies in each world, which can be defeated by jumping on them (which is your only mode of defense), as well as coins to be collected which can be used to buy various items like the shovel that enables you to dig for fossils, a magnet to help you collect coins and items in worlds, a compass that helps point you towards hidden secrets, and other such things like a wallet or extra hearts if you need them (which, honestly, you don't). Along with the four major worlds, there are also various mini games and challenge levels that allow you to compete with others for the top leaderboard spot, which is a nice touch if you're looking for something a bit more challenging than the easy 3D platforming in the main game.
Not all things are great with Poi, however, and the biggest issue here is the general look of the game. If you showed me a screenshot of various areas in Poi, and asked me which console I'd think it was for, I'd probably end up saying it's an early Gamecube game. The textures and models have a fairly low-resolution "cartoon" look to them that, quite frankly, doesn't look all that great for a game released in 2017. The soundtrack, while starting out pretty decent in the first couple areas, ends up being a little lackluster and annoying as you continue on the game, mainly because it's usually the same general 2-3 minute song associated with each world that just loops end on end on end on end. The four major worlds have your average cookie cutter themes, Forest/Lava/Snow/Desert, and they're designed in such a way that you'll never really get lost or frustrated on where to go. But along with this easy navigation and world design, you aren't really going to feel all that challenged outside the separate challenge levels. Enemies are rather dumb and, while they can stun-lock you and kill you if you're against a wall, aren't really all that troubling. Each world has it's own boss battle with it's own little gimmick on how to beat them, but these are so easy you likely won't even die your first time facing them, let alone get touched by an attack. There is a New Game Plus mode which is unlocked when you beat the final boss that promises a harder game, with mirrored levels and enemies that one-shot you, but to be perfectly honest that doesn't even sound that difficult when the initial game is so dang easy on it's own.
Poi Explorer Edition: Launch Trailer
+ Decent 3D Platforming.
+ Good execution with "borrowed" Mario mechanics.
+ Great portable game with decent pick-up-and-play gameplay.
+ A lot of things to do which promises a fair few hours of play time.
- Graphics look very dated.
- Soundtrack ends up becoming fairly annoying as the game goes on.
- Game has virtually no difficulty whatsoever.
Poi doesn't look great. If the game was released 15 years ago I might've been impressed then, but for a title released now it's just not that appealing. Each world is designed in a fairly decent way, though, that's "linear", but not necessarily in a bad way.
For a 3D Platformer, Poi plays extremely well. There's not much of the game that is necessarily bad outside the lack of difficulty, with all of it's mechanics generally feeling pretty good while you play. It's not doing anything spectacular or new or special, but it's done right and done well.
The main game itself is relatively short for the most part, but with all the collectibles and challenge levels and mini games, plus a New Game Plus mode with harder enemies and mirrored levels, you're sure to get your money's worth out of Poi.
out of 10
(not an average)
Most modern 3D Platformers like to add in their own special features and inspirations to help show off it's individuality versus your average Mario game. Poi, however, doesn't. But the real question is, despite this special lack of individuality, is Poi at least a decent Mario clone? Yes! The game plays quite well, doesn't bother you with any complicated story, and is extremely simple to pick up and put down which is perfect for a portable game. Despite looking rather old, and having a less-than-satisfactory soundtrack, Poi is one of those games that's perfect for just a quick, no thought needed gaming session.