Sayonara Wild Hearts hands-on preview: dance revolution

It was hard to make heads or tails of what Sayonara Wild Hearts was based on its first trailer, but it looks to deliver a unique playable music video experience. Shacknews goes hands-on.


Every once in a while, a game comes along that's a little... different. It's hard to compare it to anything, simply because it's a whole different animal than any of its contemporaries. It makes its own mark on the gaming world. That may very well be the case with Sayonara Wild Hearts on Nintendo Switch.

Sayonara Wild Hearts first popped up during December's Game Awards, kicking off a full night of game reveals. While Simogo's latest effort was the first game revealed, it was also among the most memorable. At the time, it was hard to pinpoint exactly what sort of game it was. But Shacknews recently visited with publisher Annapurna Interactive to go hands-on with the game and find out.

The story of Sayonara Wild Hearts centers around a disrupted universe, one held together by the power of tarot cards. To restore order, a young girl is transformed into her alter ego, The Fool. The Fool must fly, glide, and occasionally drive motorcycles through a variety of stages, doing battle with evil dance troupes. All of it is done to the beat of various Eastern pop songs.

The first thing to note is that what's on display in the game's trailer is basically the game. What's on display is no cutscene. The game is a colorful, playable, on-rails music video, with players controlling the main character in a bombastic, choreographed journey. The idea is to pick up collectible coins strewn about the stage, aiming for a high score. Depending on whether The Fool is flying or riding a vehicle, players can either move left or right or all around.

But at heart, Sayonara Wild Hearts is a rhythm game. So as The Fool makes her journey, players are prompted to hit the A button at various points throughout the song. That includes when it comes time to battle factions like the Dancing Devils. But this isn't a traditional kind of confrontation. It's a musical pursuit. Players must keep the rhythm, avoid obstacles, and avoid shots from the individual Dancing Devils, as their pursuit culminates with a one-on-one confrontation. Here, players repeatedly tap the A button and shatter their adversary's heart, essentially disintegrating them.

It honestly felt refreshingly different to see that Sayonara Wild Hearts is basically exactly what it promises in its trailer. The music video motif is a creative one, with the game's narrative unfolding through its songs. It's a fun escape, just getting lost in each individual track. There look to be a handful of factions and plenty of replay value in place and it should be interesting to see how the game manages to maintain its charm over the course of each stage, particularly with Simogo promising new mechanics throughout the game.

Sayonara Wild Hearts is early in development, but what was on display certainly looked encouraging. Look for it to hit Nintendo Switch later in 2019.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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