The King is dead. Long live the King! His ghost, however... a bit of a loud mouth braggart. He will not be shutting up until his final request is granted: bury his coffin in a suitable catacomb filled with riches. After some wheels get attached to his coffin, it is up the Princess to push and pull the titular 'chariot' along with her fiancée to its final destination. But does this new Switch iteration live up to the new 'Super' moniker?
If you have never stumbled upon the original title that was previously released on Wii U, Super Chariot is a delightful mix of 2D platforming and physics puzzles. One or two players challenge underground catacomb levels by navigating the titular chariot to the exit while collecting riches. A thinking man/woman’s indie platformer who just happens to find a new home on a platform that's far more suited to supporting its best elements.
The default Pro Controller configuration uses ‘A’ to make your character jump, ‘X’ to attack with your weapon (needed to stave off would be underground critters/looters that would attempt to steal goodies of your chariot), ‘Y’ to use a gadget (if you have any) and holding ‘B’ allows you to respawn on the last checkpoint, something rather useful if you managed to get your chariot stuck or lost after a less accomplished attempt at traversing a trickier part of the level.
While your characters are controlled very much the same way as any 2D platforming game, the distinguished gameplay gimmick here is how to control the chariot itself across the level. Physics are ever present and, as such, you can simply push the chariot to move it along flat surfaces or even to make it climb a few bumps on the road. But the safest bet is a trusty rope tethered to one of the two tether points on the coffin. Pressing ‘ZR’ will latch on a rope that you can use to pull the chariot towards your position. While tethered ‘L’ and ‘ZL’ enable you to wind and unwind the rope respectively.
You will need to use both your character’s moves and the chariot’s physics to traverse the several platforming obstacles each of the many levels throws at you. You can, for instance, use the chariot as a quick makeshift platform to reach higher ground, tether it and drop it along a ledge to serve as a pendulum or simply give it a nudge at the edge of a cliff and ride it in style as it speeds downhill. It's a rather unique and ingenious game design that will delight and often have you scratching your head in equal measure. Worry not if you played the game before - everything still feels as fresh as when it was originally released.
The characters themselves are unable to pick up anything, you need to move the chariot close enough for a moment in order to pick up the riches that are stashed along the route, secret skulls hidden among the levels most treacherous nooks, chests with blueprints that will enable the Shopkeeper to sell new gadgets that can either be useful to navigate the Chariot or needed to unlock certain locked routes on levels. The first levels are somewhat dwarfed in size compared to later stages, but don't think a single trip will allow you to see everything each cavern has to offer; Replaying and speed-running will assure this game's extended lifespan.
The 2D aesthetics are colourful and rather lovely, with some sporadic lighting effects piercing the underground caves to excellent visual effect. Brilliant animation is effectively used to bring the Princess, the soon-to-be Prince, the skeleton Shopkeeper and the King to life (well, not literally in the case of the later). Excellent voice acting helps to flesh out the characters, with some particularly funny quips from the Shopkeeper and the King who despite being a ghost still fears the supernatural. Lovely medieval melodies will accompany your spelunking. Despite the bleak premise of burying your deceased father, Super Chariot is anything but, with both visuals and audio combining to deliver a truly charming experience.
This Switch released justifies the appendage of ‘Super’ to the title by adding in the previous DLC content found on the ‘Royal Gadget Pack’ - five exclusive gadgets to mess around with your chariot and the addition of the Shopkeeper as a third playable character. Unlike the Princess and her fiancée, he appropriately attacks by throwing bones, giving him a rather nice long range attack instead of the melee sword swipes from the original duo. If you pick up the physical edition you will also get a download code for the game’s lovely soundtrack.
The lonely chariot navigator needs not worry about package value because even for a single player the campaign is long and filled with challenges to tackle, including several revisits to previously cleared caves to find new secrets or new exits. It is, however, when you add a second player to the mix that Super Chariot truly stands ahead of the pack. Along the levels you will find several signs with two heads on them, alerting you to bits that can only be explored with the help of a second player along with a second rope to properly navigate the chariot through them. Thanks to Switch's co-op friendly nature, this game will provide you and your friend/sibling/offspring/better-half with genuine fun memories of trying to awkwardly coordinate chariot tethering.
Super Chariot is a fitting metaphor for life – you can journey alone and endure all hardships as you struggle to make your way to the end, or you can share the burden with another person and help each other reach new heights along the way. Brilliantly designed, beautifully crafted and one of the finest co-op experiences on Switch this side of Sniperclips. It's not hard for us to recommend you embark on this journey, even if you have done so before. May the King rest peacefully for his chariot is made of sturdy stuff indeed.