The furriest of all the Royales lands on PlayStation. It’s terribly cute, is it terribly good? Super Animal Royale – The Finger Guns Review.
I’m rubbish at Super Animal Royale. I thought I’d get this out at the top to save myself having to explain the sheer amount of times I’ve landed on the island only to be immediately murdered by a cat that looks suspiciously like my childhood pet that would jump on me whilst I slept in an attempt to probably scratch my eyes out. There’s PTSD shooting through my veins as I tear it across the latest Royale island I’ve found myself obsessively wanting to improve on. I’m gonna find that damn cat and shoot a couple hundred rounds into its stupidly cute face. Super Animal Royale has transformed me into a bloodthirsty predator of the wild, scouring for prey. The problem is, they’re all better than me. I’m rubbish at Super Animal Royale.
We can kick off with the whole ‘game journalists’ are rubbish at games all you like on your various forums and have a laugh about it, but I’m just being straight with you, as I always am. The closest I’ve got to a Victory is around 6th, and that’s me probably cowering upon landing in a relatively quiet area, silently in the corner awaiting certain death. Super Animal Royale is what would happen is Nintendo threw a 100 player map into Animal Crossing and whilst you can’t necessarily be bad at that game, you can easily suck at Animal Royale and there’s no getting around the simple fact that the first few games you’re going to get immediately shot in your pretty tiger face when all you want to do is attempt to learn the basics of the controls and health system (it starts at 25 and you have to build it up to 200 for a ‘full’ health bar). The game has precisely no tutorial so you’re on your own as soon as you land. Good luck out there, folks.
Developed by Pixile, Super Animal Royale had a long life on Steam Early Access after landing on the service in December 2020 before arriving in Xbox Game Preview on June 1st. This is where I started my journey with the game and I’ve been jumping in and out, knowing I would sit down and play properly once it landed on PS4. Ergo, here I am. Still getting my ass kicked by the cutest enemies you’ll ever play against. Unless you particularly have a thing for the Helghast, of course.
At first you’d be hard pushed to think this is any kind of royale as it doesn’t particularly fit the formula. A brutally colourful top down twin-stick shooter leaning into the Fortnite formula of customisation and child-friendly murderings was a bit of a gamble and it would appear that’s paid off, as the mechanics work well enough and allows it to stand out amongst other Royales that haven’t quite had the same impact on consoles like Spellbreak, for example. Appealing to the popularity of Royales along with the wanton desire to dress up cute animals allows this crossover to attract a wide range of players, even if you apparently have to be a stone cold ninja to play it with any kind of particular skill. No, I’m not bitter. Not me.
Despite a story not particularly being an all-that important aspect of the Royale genre (apart from the ongoing Jonesy saga in Fortnite. Yes Toby, it is a narrative), it’s not existent here, save for an aspect of the game which is certainly unique for Animal Royale.
The Research Lab allows you to essentially grow your own animals, using animal DNA and Super Serum vials earned from each match to unlock new breeds of animals. You’ll start off with a variety of Super Animals (a Fox, a Bear and a Skullcat) and as you progress through the game you’ll be able to access Tigers and Dogs and all manner of creatures to take to the battlefield. It’s pretty cool as this is the only way to unlock new characters. The ‘Animal Pass’, this Royale’s Battle Pass, allows you to unlock a huge variety of cosmetics should you choose to purchase and tickets to spend in the in-game shop (the games currency that you can use to also buy the Animal Pass), but very little else. You can unlock pets for your animals though, little companions that follow you around the map which is nice. If you’ve ever wanted a pet for your pet, Super Animal Royale has you covered.
Dang is the game cute though. From delicious puns that appear in big letters on the screen upon your death (‘You’re dead. We’re PAWSITIVE’) to the main lobby being set in a airport with a bird for a flight attendant (sound familiar?), it’s tough to not have a smile on your face throughout as you run around the island in the hopes of not getting caught in the gas or getting run over by a player in a hamster ball, one of the games only modes of transportation (the other being an emu that can attack with its beak when you’re on its back). The holding room is an empty theme park that is all about the punny titles, such as a food deli called Pie of the Tiger. You understand what the game is now right? It’s full of animal puns and it’s cuter than a puppy at a pillow factory covered in marshmallows.
Certainly, being a Royale ‘veteran’ doesn’t really give you much of a helping hand in Animal Royale. Sure, you’ll have an idea of where to be to avoid the gas and you’ll know to stock up very quickly and efficiently, but this is really an entirely different beast when your left trigger is no longer for aiming but for doing a forward roll. Instead it’s on the right-stick, and twin stick shooting a Royale is interesting, particularly when you’re so used to a certain play style. It certainly takes a little while to get your head around, and the forward roll definitely comes in handy when wanting to evade attacks or get yourself closer to the circle and away from the gas.
You’ll begin each game with nothing but a melee weapon. Much like Fortnite, this can be a variety of things. I’m currently rocking a marshmallow on the end of a stick, just as powerful as a baseball bat full of nails, it would seem. When you land you’re able to break boxes nearby with your melee weapon and of course, attack your enemy. When you’ve landed somewhere with no guns but a bunch of boxes it’s good to have nearby, as boxes will normally have something inside them you can utilise.
So yes, I’m rubbish at Super Animal Royale, but I get its appeal. It’s charming and cute as all heck, adds a different dimension to the Royale genre and allows you to dress up pets, who can also have pets. Games will end relatively quickly and if you’re uninitiated the onboarding can be brutal, but if you’re determined there’s plenty to unlock, plenty to get better at and a whole lot of fun puns to make you chuckle.
But you can’t pet the animals, which is a crime. One hopes a future update will rectify this blasphemous omission.
Super Animal Royale treads on the Royale genre with a twist on the formula, a top-down twin stick shooter with cute animals shooting the heck outta each other. Go in gently and with patience as it’s brutal for beginners, but those brave enough to stick it out will find an awful lot to enjoy. And we ain’t lion.
Super Animal Royale is out now on Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, PS4, PS5 (reviewed), PC and Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Modus Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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