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Kombinera review for Nintendo Switch, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Graphite Lab
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

It’s fitting that Kombinera has been published by Atari. It feels like one of the games that could have graced their systems back in the 1980s.

I mean, some minor changes would have to be made. The brightly-coloured visuals would probably need to be toned down a little – but given that we’re talking about 2D platformer where you control a ball, probably not significantly. Likewise, the soundtrack would probably need to be downgraded a little, but not hugely – while the score is somewhat modern-sounding ambient electronic music, it’s easy to imagine it being redone in chiptunes style without too much changing.

The gameplay, though, could easily be dropped back into the early ‘80s, and I don’t think anyone would have batted an eye. The premise is very simple: you’re controlling multiple balls scattered across single-screen levels, and you’re trying to join them up without any of them running into obstacles.

While Kombinera may not offer anything new, it still finds ways to be challenging. Punishingly so, in fact – there are 300 levels on offer here, and they get insanely difficult around level 15 or 20. There’s a brief period at the beginning where the game almost holds your hand, but that’s given up very quickly and you’re left to die – and die, and die, and die.

Of course, that means that when you succeed, it’s all the more rewarding. Mind you, it also means that you’ve got to really be willing to persevere, because there are lots of levels here with no margin for error, and the game delights in finding new ways to kill off your little balls. Kombinera doesn’t try to hide the fact that it’s tough, so if you’re after that kind of near-impossible difficulty, you’ll want to check it out.

Atari provided us with a Kombinera Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B