[Review] The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition - Nintendo Switch
The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition brings a light hearted zombie-horde style twin-stick shooter to the Nintendo Switch with absurd flair and lots of mutant veggies animated by crazy aliens. Yes, if you immediately thought of the Powerpuff Girls episode with the angry broccoli aliens, know that I did, too...and it's influence on this game shines very brightly, even if indirectly. If only there were a stupendous power up that allowed you to eat them to death, it could have been complete. While there are not overt Powerpuff Girl references, there are a lot of other nostalgiac game and media references to be found, which even includes a worn-VHS style warp line that loops through the screen as you play. This, along with screen shake and screen flash can be modified or turned off from the options, but it adds a nice little visual touch to the art style.
The Walking Vegetables seems to have been intended as a couch co-op shooter game in the same vein as Zombies Ate my Neighbors, and I only wish that it could have been a bit more like that game for my own selfish reasons. However, what we do have is a very well-tuned twin stick shooter experience with a lot of personality and fun blasts of mayhem, especially when played with a buddy at home. The most time I spent in The Walking Vegetables was playing alongside my daughter's friend who ended up being way better than me, and kept us alive far more often than I expected. After every death, you are given a screen full of statistics that lets you know how long you survived, how many vegetables you killed, coins collected, buildings cleared, objects destroyed and steps taken.
Each level and building is randomly generated, so failure upon a level results in a total reset of the level itself, along with now having different spawn points for the enemies, placement of buildings, what can be found in the buildings, which ones do or don't have locks that require keys, and where destructible objects are located and what they might contain. Your objective in the game is to follow the arrows to an enemy location, wipe out all of those enemies, and then proceeding to the next spawn of vegetable waves and repeat. Amidst the hordes of veggies, you'll also find gas pumps, garbage bags and cans, safety cones, stacks of tires, and so on. As you break these items apart, you'll be rewarded with coins, ammo, keys, rare health drops, and even more rare- new weapon drops.
Coins can be used to upgrade skills, ammo does what ammo does, keys open locks on buildings, and new weapons add limited firepower option to your infinite pistol and baseball bat.
Melee works great as a means of finishing off tough to pin down little guys that are constantly on the move, especially these pesky grapes(?) with guns, but they also give you some space with their knockback, and is by far the best way to destroy the landscape. Guns vary in their usefulness and effectiveness, but I am pretty certain that every new gun you get is better than the default pistol...which is great because it constantly makes you want to keep moving forward to discover new and different guns, wherever they may be hiding at. There's also a throwing weapon, and this is one of only two instances of the controls being rather disappointing. Everything else flows smoothly and feels natural. Left analog moves your character, right analog aims your gun, ZL pulls up the weapon wheel, L brings up your map, R is your melee weapon, and ZR is to fire your gun. A picks up and uses items, X switches weapons, and Y drops a weapon...and to throw your item you need to click the right analog stick. I don't know what would have felt better for this, but it always seemed really awkward to me, and most of the time I completely forgot that I could throw grenades, even if I had them and needed them.
The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition pulls it's humor, visuals, settings, and gameplay styles from a lot of different sources, and this leads to a familiar, if frustrating experience. It is best played alongside a buddy, but is still rewarding when played alone, particularly if you enjoy a challenge.