Grapple Dog

released on Feb 10, 2022

Grapple Dog is an exhilarating 2D pixel-art platformer. Use your awesome grappling hook to clear tricky challenges as Pablo, the Grapple Dog! Sail across 6 colourful worlds with a crew of fearless adventurers to stop the robotic overlord Nul from destroying the world!

Reviews View More

fantastic. peak fiction honestly

first played on Switch. its really fun except for the fact it crashed immediately after the final boss

Very endearing, super simple platformer. Really well polished, fun central mechanic. So very GBA-like to have 3 buttons and a d-pad control everything. I got that feeling I normally get with games where I felt a real compulsion to hoover up every stray fruit and gem, and it felt really good collecting everything and slowly figuring out levels.
Brutal difficulty spikes though. Sometimes I found myself having to put my Switch down for the night and attempt a level the next day because it was frustrating me so much lol. A lot of little moments that just felt like total BS, and it's not the chill slightly easy platformer I initially thought it would be. But it was a fun time.
Ran like ass for a 2D platformer with a bunch of slowdown (and the game crashed the instant I beat the final boss which has led to me just abandoning my effort to 100% it because fuck that. I seriously thought it was a meta game element at first but nope, it just crapped out on me and didn't save.), but it was made by one person so I'm very willing to go easy on that part.

Grapple Dog is polished to a sparkle. It's really a blast to play, it just instantly feels fun, and the level design is effortlessly intuitive. The pixel art is SO CLEAN too, it's kind of mesmerizing.
My biggest issues with the game lay with the gameplay itself. I've seen some other comments mentioning the motion feeling off somehow, but honestly I got used to it as the game went, although specifically when Pablo is in his rolled-up ball animation, he really does tend to fly around at the touch of a button and becomes way too hard to control precisely, which is sometimes required. My bigger issue was with the grappling hook, which unfortunately is kind of the core of the game.
The grappling hook has three angles: up, up-left, and up-right. I don't think this ever felt right. It forces you to make shots at weird angles when you'd rather just tilt it a bit more this way or that way. This is one of those things that's not really meaningful to someone who hasn't played the game, so I'll leave it at that.
One other major game design issue that I'm still confused about: checkpoints don't work like they do in... every other game. And by that I mean, if you touch a checkpoint, it doesn't save your progress, and it doesn't heal you. It only works once. This sounds like a little nitpick, but it seriously messed with my playthrough several times in ways that made me restart a level when I was 80% done with it. This is because if you hit a checkpoint, then go back and collect some gems or fruits, if you die before hitting another checkpoint, you have to redo it all. Even worse, the level might block you from going back after you die because certain gates will reset. It's also just frustrating to lose health right next to a checkpoint and instead of being able to quickly touch it and get going once again, I would often just die on purpose or open the menu to restart at the checkpoint, which just felt so unnecessary. Very odd choice that I saw no benefit from.
Other than some gameplay flaws, it's a really, really solid platformer that is so easy to get into and hardly needs any carrots-on-sticks to get you playing more.