A Hat in Time (PC)

A Hat in Time rivals Brave Fencer Musashi as the cutest game bogged down with jank I've played. It's a brightly colored, twee level-based collect-a-thon inspired by Super Mario Sunshine that atmospherically cries out be loved, but mechanically I haven't cursed out a game so much since I last replayed Super Mario 64.

Hat in Time is a lot shorter than the games that inspired it; there's only four worlds plus the final boss level, and forty of the collectable macguffins. Props to the variation in level design at least, even if going from a port town run by Mafia charicatures to a movie studio run by birds was a little jarring. The peak for me was the haunted forest which is just open enough that the camera isn't too much of a nuisance, the ghost is probably the best character, and the boss theme is the sickest in the game. The movie studio run by birds has some memorable set pieces like a murder mystery that let me indulge my immaturity, an exploding train, a disco party boss fight that admittedly took a little too long to down (and might differ depending on which bird you side with in the previous stages) and, just, being a movie studio run by birds. But the first mission there is a godawful stealth section where the camera will zoom right into your face if you're up against a wall, but if you move away from the wall to move the camera out so you can, you know, tell what you're doing, you're in the guards' field of vision. But let's set the camera aside for a minute, I want to stay positive for now.

Hat in Time has its share of tense platforming scenes, be they Mario Sunshine-esque voids of floating blocks, or the final stage being a collection of isolated obstacle courses connected through ziplines. But some of are more annoying than they should be thanks to the game's dodgy camera that I could never position where I needed to. Also, that one pocket dimension level with the invisible pirate cats that keep punting you off the stage can eat shit, and I had the game crash on me the first time I was making my way through the Lava Cake.

Yeah, I guess I keep coming back to the camera. Because damn, it took me months from the time I first started playing to penetrate this game's horrible camera and controls that could have used some fine-tuning (the game's dash move leaves Hat Kid lying on her stomach, so you have to dash-jump-dash-jump because.... reasons?) and get into the gooey candy at the center. And why does so much of the game take place along tightropes? One level is this huge town-wide party where you run along the rooftops and telephone lines while a marching band follows you. Sounds fun in theory, but you can't take the time to adjust the camera and plan your jumps or else the band will slam into you, and I can't tell you how many times I jumped past the telephone lines and landed in the crowd.

Yeah, this was all I really got around to in October because I spent the second half of the month grinding the Hallow's End event in World of Warcraft. 126 attempts, still didn't get the Headless Horseman's mount.