REVIEW: Shakes on a Plane

REVIEW: Shakes on a Plane

Shakes on a Plane is a top-down co-op party game from Assemble Entertainment for the Nintendo Switch. Set on an airplane, the game allows up to four players as you try and successfully carry out every passenger’s orders under a certain time limit. For this review, I played the Single-Player mode for a reason that will be explained later. And, even then, this game was a lot of fun to play through. 

The game opens up with a cutscene of an alien spaceship, where the crew is discussing a food competition and how they’re always outdone by another race when it comes to entering the competition. Therefore, they look to other planets for ideas and find Earth. Upon discovering the number of tasty meals that this planet offers, they send one of the aliens, Zog, down to act as one of the airline crew. 

Firstly: yes, this is still Shakes on a Plane. Secondly, this cutscene felt very out of place with the rest of the game. Its only purpose is to introduce the characters to play, which is fine if it didn’t feel so odd, and wasn’t so long. While the scene’s humour is fantastic, it could’ve been scrapped completely, and the game wouldn’t have suffered for it. Aside from the humour, the other positive I can give this cutscene is that it’s just as wacky as the actual gameplay itself!

Before a round starts, the player can pick two-character slots for the single-player mode and can choose from four characters: Zog the Alien, a prison guard, a vampire lady and a robotic assistant. While they’re all featured in the opening cutscene, Zog is the only character who gets an explanation, making it seem like the game wanted to be more focused on this character than the rest of the selection. However, it’s a delightful variety of colourful characters. 

Shakes on a Plane Character Selection Screen

The game is comprised of timed rounds; each round will add a new mechanic to increase the gameplay difficulty. Furthermore, before each round starts, the game will show players a demonstration of how each new mechanic works. Thus, making this a simple game to pick up. Once the round starts, the character can use a boost to move around the plane quickly to pick up passengers’ orders and recycling. Characters can also be swapped around for more fluid mobility hence why the two-character selection slots are available in single player mode. This mechanic is extremely useful, especially if the player has multiple passengers at once wanting a request carried out. This also helps with the timing of tasks, and I found it very easy to get a timed pattern going per round. 

However, that doesn’t mean Shakes on a Plane stays easy. Like previously mentioned, with each round comes a newly introduced mechanic. At the beginning of the game, the player only needs to focus on two tasks. But, as the difficulty increases, the number of tasks that the player is required to carry out increases too. The overall atmosphere for the game is fantastic. The music suits the manic gameplay perfectly: it speeds up when time is starting to run out (similar to Crash Team Racing and Mario Kart once the final lap has arrived) and slows down if there’s a calm moment during gameplay. This creates a goofy and, at times, stressful tone to the game that it needs and was one of my favourite aspects of the game, next to the fluid controls. 

Whilst the selection is full of colourful characters, it’s a shame that they don’t each have their own speed, abilities, etc. to make each one within the game stand out. And the character selection is very confusing: despite the single-player mode allowing a player to pick two characters, there are four slots, implying that up to four players can join in with the madness. However, I never figured out how to activate the multiplayer mode. There weren’t any options for it in the menu, and there isn’t an invite option. This was the reason why I played Single Player mode when reviewing this. Overall, Shakes on a Plane is a lot of fun to play. Despite its long opening cutscene and confusing player mode navigation, the gameplay is where it shines. The controls are responsible and fluid, making each round satisfying to play through. The music is suitably goofy and joyful but can speed up when a round is about to end, creating a manic but silly tone to each round. These factors make the Single Player mode fun to play through; ultimately, I have found my next gaming addiction!

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