Parents' Guide to


By Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Retro platformer with poor controls, frustrating design.

Game PlayStation 4 , Windows 2015
Poncho Poster Image

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Nothing kills a video game faster than bad controls, and this one's hindered by them from the get-go. The PC version has it the worst, with keyboard controls seemingly designed to eliminate fun. Exaggerating the control scheme's built-in problems are difficult puzzles (some of them timed!) that insist players have exceptional coordination, perfect timing, and, in some instances, the ability to see into the future. Without the latter, you're likely to send poor Poncho to an untimely death more times than you can count and/or get stuck in a perma-death loop that can only be fixed by shutting the game down and restarting it.

On a more positive note, the game's graphics exhibit a distinct retro charm that's well matched by its sophisticated 8-bit-style soundtrack. Randomly generated levels and an interesting collection mechanic provide ample reason to replay the game, but the retro charm is undercut by vague storytelling. The abstract introduction doesn't do much to fill players in on what they're doing or why, and this makes it hard at first to care about Poncho or his objectives. In fact, it only serves to remind us of other stories (such as Wall-E or The Iron Giant) where well-meaning robots become heroes we can care about -- and to point out how Poncho suffers in comparison.

Game Details

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