Astro Bears is a rather simple but delightfully competitive local multiplayer romp that basically amounts to 3D Snake. Originally released in 2017 as Astro Bears Party, changes in IP ownership and overhauled code turned this planned update into a rerelease that features long-awaited new content. With an added competitive mode, new bears, and a few other presentation tweaks, developer Sonka has expanded the already-addictive Astro Bears Party into something a bit better than before.
If you already own the first release, then you can download this title for free for the next few days and have some new life breathed into the game for you. If you have not played the original, then for a measly $7, you can grab one of the best value picks on the eShop.
Those who played Astro Bears Party will find that the standard multiplayer modes — Party Mode and Competitive Mode — are still by far the best part of the game.
Party Mode has up to four players select from a pool of eight playable bears, each with different stats that noticeably affect the most viable strategies. Four of these characters are new to Astro Bears, bringing significantly zanier stats, designs, and attributes to the table. Cybear, for example, is a robotic bear with awful speed and handling, but he gets an extra life. Randy, meanwhile, is covered in question marks. He has fluid stats that will match those of a random bear.
Once everyone selects a character, players load up on a small, medium, or large planetoid. A timer counts down from 3, and then all bets are off. Each bear runs automatically while its path is permanently marked by a colored ribbon. Aside from automatically hobbling along, your bear can also jump, use a jetpack, and dash in order to escape crowded tangles and try and trap other bears.
As you can imagine, the playing field becomes extremely crowded with crisscrossing colors very quickly. Colliding with any of these means you lose the round. The last bear running gets a few points, and then everything resets for another go. The game does not end until someone racks up enough points to win the whole match.
Competitive Mode, meanwhile, is new to Astro Bears. This mode sees two players each choose three bears before facing off in randomized environments. The gameplay is the same 3D Snake as it is in Party Mode. The first person to win a set of matches with all three of their bears wins the overall game, which often proves to be a tense, back-and-forth showdown. Competitive Mode is a great addition that fully capitalizes on Astro Bears‘ potential for different strategies and tactics in a one-on-one setting.
The original Astro Bears Party had a single-player mode that was a distraction at best. In this mode, your bear runs around a planetoid collecting as many fish as possible for a high score. The snaking trail behind your bear is not permanent in single-player, but it is still long enough to trip you up. That mode returns in this release and, unfortunately, is largely the same. Astro Bears is simply a multiplayer game through and through.
Astro Bears enjoys a new competitive mode, new bears, and better presentation than its predecessor. It is a very simple game, and always has been, but it is appropriately priced and a fantastic local multiplayer experience to boot. Astro Bears Party was one of the first Switch games I bought, and a couple of years down the road, it is still a favorite among my friends and family as an accessible but fun multiplayer game. Astro Bears could have done a little bit more to justify being a full rerelease, especially on the single-player end. But as an upgrade to an already-wonderful local multiplayer title, the game carries its predecessor’s torch just fine.
A review code was provided by the publisher. Our review policy.