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Part Time UFO review: The Claaaaaaw

The makers of Kirby and Boxboy have an adorable new mascot to introduce to Switch owners with Part Time UFO. Our review.

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Switch owners did not expect to get a new game from the developers behind Kirby and BOXBOY. But they got one last Wednesday... sort of. Part Time UFO isn't entirely a new game. It originally debuted on mobile devices back in 2018. But the Switch proves to be the optimal way to play this puzzle game, a game that feels like a fun distraction, if nothing else.

Alien worker

Part Time UFO centers around an alien spaceship-looking thing that has landed on our planet. Rather than wonder what it wants, why it's here, or if it intends to take over our world, people just start giving the thing jobs. It grows so fond of this idea, it quickly settles into an existence of browsing the classified ads for new gigs.

The jobs in Part Time UFO are mainly about taking objects and stacking them in an assigned place using the UFO's trusty claw. Think of this game as an extension of the claw machine idea. The concept is simple, but the execution can be tough because there's physics at work here. If objects aren't stacked in a reasonable manner, they can topple over like a Jenga tower. With a poor control scheme, it's a concept that doesn't work and, though I haven't played the mobile version, I can't picture a scenario where this feels intuitive with touch controls. Fortunately, that's not the case on Switch. Extending the claw is mapped to a button and movement is made much easier with the control stick. The Part Time UFO controls are smooth and present no issues.

There are several different job types for players to master and they essentially need to complete them all to a degree in order to progress forward. This means learning to complete a variety of different tasks and those tasks get tough in short order. For example, there's a circus balancing act that's pretty hard on its own, because it requires stacking objects on each side to keep things balanced. Doing that with a horizontal pole? It's hard, but doable. Once the game asks to balance objects on narrow sticks, that's when it gets difficult. Likewise, jobs start to get difficult when obstacles show up and try to attack, cutting down your time with each hit. It's a major plus that Part Time UFO offers co-op play, but there are a few of these jobs that feel like co-op is almost required to succeed.

Odd jobs

Beyond the campaign, Part Time UFO offers different ways to play. There's a Tower of Infinity mode that challenges players to create an infinite stack that extends skyward, which proves to be one of the game's most enjoyable features. Treasure Hunt is unlocked after the campaign and almost feels like a different game with players challenged to complete puzzle rooms for rewards. It's a cool idea and feels so different from the campaign, I only wish it was available out of the box.

Speaking of rewards, there are a lot of cosmetics to unlock over the course of the game. Everything's earned with in-game currency and while they'll all change up the UFO's look, some will offer certain abilities or boosts, like increased speed, strength, or the ability to stop on a dime. That's a nice incentive to experiment, even if I wish the shopkeeper would make it clearer which outfits offer benefits and which are just for show.

Short stack

I had a good time with Part Time UFO for what it was: a quick puzzle game and a good way to kill a few minutes. It's not going to monopolize anybody's time, but the game is competently put together, has a fun premise, and fits great on the Switch. There aren't a lot of failings here outside of the difficulty spike and its simplistic visuals that make it feel closer to a 3DS game. It's just good, clean fun.

Just make sure to turn the volume down, because you'll get so sick of the game's one song and its different variations that you'll never want to hear it again after hearing it drone on for about an hour.


This review is based on a Nintendo Switch digital code provided by the publisher. Part Time UFO is available now on the Nintendo eShop for $8.99. The game is rated E.

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?

Review for
Part Time UFO
7
Pros
  • Fun and simple concept
  • Easy-to-grasp controls
  • Variety of tasks mix up the stacking action
  • Side modes add nicely to the campaign
Cons
  • Campaign's difficulty can spike
  • Treasure Hunt is only unlocked after the campaign
  • Outfit benefits aren't always clear
  • The game's music can be grating after a while
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