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Potata: Fairy Flower

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: OverGamez
Developer: Potata Company
Release Date: June 6, 2020


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Switch Review - 'Potata: Fairy Flower'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 10, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

In this adventure platform game, you will join the quest of Potata, an oddly-named young witch who travels deep into a magical forest in search of herself.

When you're developing a platforming title, you have two options: spice up the formula by introducing something new, or make the gameplay as solid as possible. Players may be familiar with the gameplay mechanics, but a well-constructed platformer is an enjoyable experience all around. Unfortunately, Potata: Fairy Flower misses on both counts.

The story begins with players in the role of Potata, a young girl in a village of mages. She isn't the best in her magical studies, but she strives for adventure to escape her mundane life. One day, while running an errand to get the ingredients for a berry pie and a cure for her sick pet fox, she stumbles upon a beautiful magical flower. Picking that flower was a mistake, as it turned out to be home to a fairy that protected the village. To set things right, Potata goes on a quest to find the flower petals so everything can return to normal once more.

The story is standard fare at this point, but Potata: Fairy Flower reminds you of its presence. A good chunk of the backstory is told through notes that are scattered throughout the game world. Some of these are letters from your mother about studying hard to pass your magic exams, while others are petitions to throw out the town's dark mage. It paints a picture of a village that is far from perfect, but it turns out that the other villagers are rude and dismissive. The dialogue is unnecessarily wordy, and the game has a spotty English translation, so you'll sometimes need to re-read passages to understand them.

The game is a standard platformer with some travel to reach new areas and solve problems. Potata doesn't exhibit too many skills beyond the standard stuff. She can jump but not double-jump. She can control the height of her jumps and manipulate distance in mid-air, which compensates for the overall floaty feeling of her jumps, but she can't grab onto ledges to make leaps of faith. She walks at a good pace, but her climbing speed is slow, even though there aren't too many areas where you need to climb. The game has a decent number of checkpoints.

Potata also has a sword to fight off enemies, and this is an area where the game falters. There's some decent range to the short weapon, but it is hard to tell if you've actually hit something. Some enemies will give off a red flash when hit, but usually, the camera is so far away and the flash is so faint that you might not be able to tell if the hit landed, especially since the sound effect is barely audible. The same goes for when you're hit; you'll suddenly die because you never realized that you had been hit. This issue is amplified during boss fights, when some bosses jiggle when struck in addition to showing a red flash but, again, the camera is pulled back enough and the jiggle is so slight that you can't tell if a hit registered unless you're really looking for it.

Aside from combat and platforming, Potata: Fairy Flower has some puzzles, but the gameplay comes to a screeching halt whenever they pop up. They all lead to you unlocking a new part of the map, though. One type has you placing puzzle pieces into a space so that all of the pieces are used and all of the blank spaces are filled. Another type has you connecting pipe pieces to get energy flowing from one end to another. The final type has you lighting up a grid so that no red square appear and green squares only appear over areas with green dots. Luckily, there are a few spots where you can pay stones to produce hints about where to click on the board.

You can make the argument that the presence of puzzles is there to pad out the game's running time and there's some merit to that as you can knock out the game in roughly 4 hours if you take your time with it. At least some of that time feels well spent as the levels themselves are a bit verbose with each one sporting multiple routes to get to the end without making the player feel hopelessly lost. There are challenge levels that you can play while on your adventure and those become important as they are a key to earning one of the game's three endings alongside a few choices you make towards the game's back half. Though one can argue about the importance of each ending considering how unappealing the main story itself is, at least there's enough here to encourage a few extra playthroughs.

As far as presentation goes, Potata: Fairy Flower is hit-and-miss. For audio, the game lacks voices, and the sound effects are played low enough that you may not register some of them. The Celtic-inspired music is awesome, but every piece is rather short, and there are some noticeable periods of silence before the track is replayed.

Graphically, the characters look fine until you see them in cut scenes, where their illustrations make them look less appealing — usually the inverse of what occurs in other titles. The backgrounds look good until you reach areas where the lush colors make the background and foreground blend together to cause mishaps, like falling in a pit and getting hurt. That lushness comes at a cost, as the frame rate drops under 30 in areas where fog and mist appear. We've also encountered a bug specifically in the waterfall area where the background is completely gone for half of the level, and some of the rocks in the water are so large that they cover up anything in the playfield —including instructions, your character, and enemies. It's a shame that this is still occurring after a number of game patches.

At most, some people could consider Potata: Fairy Flower to be fine. The platforming is good enough, and the game's multiple endings provide a reason for a few replays of the short journey. Even the combat is serviceable once you recognize the game's faint tells about landing hits or being hit. However, from the boring puzzles to the bad translation and the performance and graphical issues, there's enough here to drain one's enthusiasm for the title. There are worse platformers out there, but there are also loads of other better platformers to enjoy before spending time with this one.

Score: 6.0/10

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