His mum calls him Felix, but everyone else calls him PewDiePie. He’s a YouTube phenomenon with more subscribers (almost 40 million) to his video game-related videos than anyone else.
You know all this, of course. The question is, are you a PewDiePie fan nor not?
I am not, which means this review of his new mobile game is going to focus far more on how it actually, you know, plays, than anything else that goes with it. Okay? Okay.
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Solid platform to build on
Despite being built around a decidedly 21st century video gaming celebrity, PewDiePie Legend of the Brofist is a deeply traditional 2D platformer rooted in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
It doffs its cap to Super Mario Land, Alex Kidd, and Super Mario Bros. 3 as much as it does to current YouTube personality culture.
You pick from an expanding cast of popular YouTube figures, headed by PewDiePie himself, and set out to rescue your fans. They’ve been kidnapped by a gang of talking barrels. It’s an in-joke, apparently.
This rescue takes the form of a series of classic platformer levels mixed in with the odd diversion – be it a brief 2D shmup stage or a forced-scrolling test of precision.
It’s mostly about bouncing on heads and collecting coins, though, with the odd entertaining boss fight.
Spot the reference
It’s sounding derivative, but there’s an undoubted liveliness and affection for video game history at Legend of the Brofist‘s core. At the very least, it’s clear the developers love the games they’re referencing.
Of course, there’s the old bane of traditional 2D platformers on touchscreen devices – sticky, imprecise controls. They work fine early on when the going’s easy, but you’ll realise how sub-optimal they are when things get tough.
And this is a rather tough game, at least in a sense. The game’s habit of throwing new random elements at you without warning walks a fine line between frustrating and interesting, and it tries to make up for any snags with a fudged approach to lives.
Put simply, there are none – just a generous health bar that gets topped up often, and which sends you back to the beginning of the level when depleted.
Rather confusingly, three lots of heavy damage of a certain kind also seems to a restart, where others will wipe you out in one go.
It’s often unclear what will cause these insta(ish)-deaths, and there’s a lot of trial and error involved in discovering them.
So what about the actual PewDiePie stuff? I’m really not so sure about that. It’s filled with the man’s likeness, and there are full voiceovers provided by him and all of the cast.
There are also plenty of nods to PewDiePie’s public life (his girlfriend and fellow YouTube celebrity Marzia is a playable character), and the game has a suitably off-the-wall brand of humour.
It’s not, of course, anything like as chaotic or risqué as his video output. There’s a slightly forced sense of zaniness here – perhaps understandable given the total lack of that freewheeling vibe his videos can call upon.
PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist is a lot more confident when it’s simply being a varied and frequently entertaining – if somewhat flawed – 2D platformer.