Pick your favorite long-necked animal and take off to play one of five silly sports with up to seven other players!
I first learned of Sausage Sports Club at PAX West, in the Nindies Arcade showcase in 2017. The event had a bunch of booths set up where you could try out the games in the line-up, talk with the developers and get some swag (stickers and such). Me and three other people stepped up to the booth, grabbed the controllers and played a match of Soccer.
The first thing I noticed was the attention to detail on the characters. We had the ability to pick out of a selection of many different cute animals, and we could pick our “costume” as well: I selected a hedgehog with a football helmet. Once things were in order, the museum level loaded and we were playing this wacky game. The controls were relatively simple: standard movement with the left stick, jump and ground pound (same button), dash (propelled with a fart from your animal of choosing), and with the right stick we could swing our long necks/heads around and smack other players or objects with it – such as the soccer ball.
Physics in Sausage Sports Club are very bouncy, and the ball reacted to every little bump or smack from the players. This led to some hilarious (and sometimes unexpected) results. There were unintended own-goals, and players flying off in the distance from a random dash; everyone seemed to be mashing buttons to desperately try to push the ball toward the other team’s goal. It was very chaotic, and sometimes frustrating, but all in good fun. We finished our game, thanked the developer and went on to try out the other games in the showcase.
I was left impressed with the demo, but was excited when I heard that the final game was adding an ‘Adventure Mode’, so naturally that’s the first mode I checked out. You start the game talking to a corgi named Scout who introduces you to ‘Sausage Sports Club’, and then proceeds to take you to a tutorial in a gym. This area goes over the controls I mentioned earlier, and allows you to practice hitting a button with a ground pound that summons a volleyball, which you then kick at some moving targets. It serves as a quick and excellent way to showcase the controls without the typical hand-holding found in most games.
From there you move on to the Hat store, which is where all the currency you find in Sausage Sports Club (something you earn from completing quests or simply hitting random objects with your head) can be used. You are given a few coins and told to operate the bubble-gum machine full of presents in order to get yourself a new hat. No loot boxes here, folks! All hats are random, but you’ll never get the same one twice.
Next, you are set off in the ‘Overworld’, which has a forest/jungle, junkyard, beach and even a Hollywood studio city set for animals to visit. You then proceed to consult with these other animals (with a question mark above their heads) for quests. Quests are very simple and usually result in talking to one animal, who had some kind of interaction with another animal, who is mad or sad or something, and you are given the task to talk to the animal and get some kind of reaction to bring the two animals together.
I’m not exactly sure why these animals are so emotional (perhaps it’s the stress of the competition?), but they all seem to be frustrated at each other in some way or form. Comedy comes from a lot of these non-sequitur interactions with the standard “I can’t believe you said that” kind of gaff, but seems to be catered to appeal more to young audiences. I didn’t really find the conversations funny, but hey, humor is subjective, so there’s probably a lot of people who will.
After you attempt to solve the trivial relationship puzzle between the two characters, it’s time to settle the score, whatever it may be (a fashion choice, too many exercise requests, hide and go seek, to name a few), and that results in a match. There are five different types of matches: Capture the flag, ‘Coinz’, Soccer, Paint Ball and Sumo, and these are assigned completely at random. Typically, you are paired two versus two (you and the animal you are helping versus the other one and a random partner), and you are given either a time limit or points, depending on the game type.
Soccer certainly proved to be my favorite game type, as it’s the most goal-driven and wanton of the modes, but there were some surprises as well. ‘Paint Ball’ is very much like an animal version of Splatoon, where your character drops colored ink (depending on team) on the ground and there is literally a ball that turns into your team’s color as you push it around, painting even more of the arena. I also found myself enjoying ‘Capture the Flag’ as it is fun trying to bash the other animals to make them drop the flag and there’s a bit of strategy to it all. Capture the flag otherwise plays as you would expect, but with the twist of allowing you to score even if your flag isn’t at home and you can’t dash while holding the flag.
The two game types that I didn’t quite enjoy were Coinz and Sumo. Both of these modes add spikes to make the somewhat-open arenas into trap-covered smack-fests. The strategy is lost as players will just spam the dash button in hopes to knock you into the spikes, and since your teammate can hit you as well, you often just completely lose control over where your character is going. Then, there’s the camera. The camera is fine in an open gameplay setting with its relatively fixed position but seems very restrictive when trying to judge 3D jumps from a distance what with all the chaos of what’s going on in the foreground.
Coinz has the appeal of the similar mode found in the recent Mario Kart games, where you hit your opponent to get them to drop coins. Collecting them adds to your score and you can get more coins to drop from golden bugs or clouds with a dollar symbol on it. Whoever has the most coins when time runs out wins.
Sumo is simply set up with a lives system — kill or be killed — and you start with four lives each (eight on a two-person team). Knock your opponents (or perhaps your teammates) into the spikes or other environmental traps; the game gets so frantic, its difficult to tell who is who. This frustrated me a lot, especially when I felt like I had no control over who was doing what (including my own character), as you get bumped a lot in this game.
After you finish the quest, you are given some experience points (more for winning, rather than losing). These points work towards unlocking new colors of characters and one of two other arenas (for a total of four). Otherwise, these points don’t really do anything as there is no leveling up in this game. After completing three quests, you move on to a simulated news show that updates you on the day’s happenings and your stats by the Sausage Sports Club host, Dirk. After four days of play (three matches each day), you are off to the final challenge between you and the co-champion in a one versus one match, winner takes all.
Beyond that, that’s about it for Adventure mode. It is nice that you can play it with up to four players, though. There are twenty-six total quests and you see twelve in each playthrough, which encourages multiple playthroughs, but with a lot of repeat gameplay on each time through. I beat my first playthrough in about an hour.
There is also a Free Play mode where you are basically free-to-play your way, with up to eight people, however you see fit, exploring the ‘Overworld’ and playing with the various props and toys scattered about. This is a great opportunity to allow additional players to check out the Overworld, since the Adventure mode only supports four. The real meat of the game — I’m sure it’s where most people will spend their time — is in Quick Play mode.
In Quick Play, you can choose the arena and the rules. You and up to seven other people can connect and play in one of the five game types. You can all be your own colors’ team or split it up into groups, it’s completely up to you. From my experience, this is where you get a chance to just be silly with friends, and ultimately, I feel that’s what this game is all about.
Seeing people just laugh and have fun without concerning themselves too much of the rules and play of the game is what makes Sausage Sports Club work well. Its cute graphics, extensive customization options, and gameplay modes will appeal to many, and if you’re looking for a couch co-op game these days, there honestly aren’t many new ones to have come out in the recent years. Sure, Adventure mode is short and the game can be frustrating at times, but the joy of competition and friendship (and certainly ragging on each other) is sure to please even the most callous gamer.
Sausage Sports Club is currently available on the Nintendo Switch and on Steam. For more information about the game, you can visit their website or follow Sausage Sports Club on Twitter.