Go! Go! PogoGirl is a simple-looking, 2D platforming game with bright colours and cute characters. I figured that I would try it out as a palate cleanser for when I am playing more difficult and frustrating titles. Upon playing it, I found that the developers, Ohsat Games and Ratalaika Games, have delivered a challenging title that feels like it is straight from the 90s. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, so let's dive into this vibrant title that is full of cute characters and a unique gameplay method.
The game starts at night time when we can see a shadowed figure breaking into a house. The thief quickly leaves and bounces away on a pogo stick. The title character is sleeping in bed and suddenly awakens and sees that her fancy pogo stick is gone. I know it must be important because it was stored in a glass case. PogoGirl — she isn’t given a name in the game — grabs her spare and bounces off in pursuit of the thief. If you have ever played DuckTales on the NES, you will instantly feel like you are playing Scrooge McDuck as he bounced around on his cane. Instead of walking, she is constantly bouncing with no way to stop. So because of this motion, you will have to traverse the levels while constantly hopping. This instantly makes the game more challenging than most platformer games.
In the games options menu, you can select if you want the timer turned on or off. I left it on but after playing for a while, I can understand why you may not want it displayed. Having the timer there makes you feel like you need to hurry to complete the level in the shortest amount of time possible. Rushing through and not timing your bounces is sure to lead to frustration, at least at first when you start playing and aren’t familiar with how high or how far she can bounce. If you make a jump and can’t quite make it, try hitting the A button — if you aren’t using an Xbox controller the button for your spin attack — this might give you the little bit of distance you need to land where you want. I found this especially handy when I was jumping across moving platforms. PogoGirl has other moves besides the spin attack in her repertoire, if you hold down on the thumbstick or D-pad you will crouch and charge up your jump letting you bounce higher, or she has a powerful downward bounce that can be used to hit switches that open doors or entrances to new areas.
When I started playing Go! Go! PogoGirl, I noticed that the first area in the game looks like it was inspired by the first Sonic the Hedgehog game. From the checkerboard pattern on the level introduction screen to the platforms and flowers on the stage these elements felt familiar. Though instead of collecting rings, you will grab gemstones. Green is the most common, with three red gems being hidden around the stage for you to collect. It is not required to grab them all, but you can get an award for collecting all the gems of each colour or for completing the stage on your first try.
Getting in your way are adorable enemies resembling pink and green slimes who also love to bounce like PogoGirl. To defeat them, you just have to bounce on them, but it’s quite tricky to time right when both characters are constantly moving. I found myself getting mesmerised by the constant motion and trying to pick the exact time to move to avoid getting hit. If you get hit once, you will have to go back to the last checkpoint that you crossed and try again. Every level has multiple checkpoints so you won’t have to go all the way back to the start. There are shields that will give you one extra hit that will be advantageous to look out for. The level designers were quite nice and placed shields right near difficult sections like boss fights where you are sure to take damage.
The game's levels are split into seasons, each containing five stages with the last being a boss fight. The first boss is a large pink slimeball wearing what looks like a metal bowl on its head for a helmet. To attack, you will need to get that helmet off them first so that will require you to lure them to the edges of the screen where the bowl will get knocked off exposing its head — though, it's essentially a ball, so it doesn’t really have a head — to attack. Once defeated you will see a short cinematic showing the thief still trying to get away from PogoGirl, who is hot on their trail then you begin the next season and set of stages.
Each season has its own unique soundtrack that stays the same for all those levels. So the upbeat, cheerful music can get a bit repetitive after a while if you are dying a lot. It was nice that it changed once you got to the next season though. I especially appreciate how the summer stages have a tropical feeling with steel drums playing in the songs. Along with the music, the look of the level also changes. Once you hit summer, sunflowers take the place of daisies and fluffy dandelions appear. PogoGirl also gets to go swimming with her pogo stick. It sounds a bit odd but it works. If you touch the bottom of the water you will bounce, but if you keep doing the spin attack you can go up to avoid enemies, get past the obstacles that reside there, or get out of the water itself.
Go! Go! PogoGirl is a fun and challenging 2D platformer that may seem like an easy game aimed towards a younger audience, but I have a feeling that some kids might not have the timing or patience required of you. Though, to be fair, sometimes my timing is off or I was just rushing so I would die repeatedly. For me, the key to success was trying to take my time and relax while playing. Trying to run through a level as fast as I could never worked out well. For players who enjoy speedrunning games, you may enjoy the challenge, but I was content going slow to ensure I would land where I needed. If you love cute games that feel like they are right out of the 90s and the added difficulty of navigating a level on a pogo stick Go! Go! PogoGirl is sure to give you a good time.
Go! Go! PogoGirl (Reviewed on Xbox Series S)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Go! Go! PogoGirl is a fun and challenging 2D platforming game that has a unique way of traversing the levels since you are constantly bouncing on a pogo stick. There’s not much of a story and the music can get a bit repetitive, but there is a lot of fun to be had here.