Nintendo systems and shovelware go together like peas and carrots. Often, these games come in the form of licensed titles created to quickly cash in on a recognizable brand. Nevertheless, once in a blue moon, a licensed game gets announced that comes with a healthy dose of promise. When Crayola Scoot was announced earlier this year, it came with enough potential to make some of the staff here at Nintendo Enthusiast take note.
First things first, the game’s influences are there, loud and proud. If your first thought from seeing this game was that you’d be getting Splatoon by the way of Tony Hawk with a little dash of Jet Set Radio, then you’d be pretty spot on. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you. Not every game needs to excel in originality. Rather than trying to innovate, it’s clear the people at Outright Games have decided to build on preexisting formulae and focus on refining them.
The core gameplay of Crayola Scoot is simple. You push your scooter along with ZR; a fast pace and spectacular tricks take center stage. The most effective way to spread the paint is undoubtedly to pull tricks while airborne, but more interesting is the ability to boost. This mechanic excels in its versatility — beyond boosting naturally being advantageous to gain further air and reach targets quicker, it also leaves a trail behind you. This often allows you to quickly set off pads around the map that spread paint; this is surprisingly crucial in a game where every little victory matters.
Every action can be crucial in Crayola Scoot, and difficulties above easy can provide a surprising amount of challenge. One of the game’s largest positives is how cleverly implemented the difficulty settings are. It’s accessible for newcomers at the lowest difficulty yet requires mastery of its mechanics at its toughest. The story is minimal here; simply the goal is to work your way up the ranks and win the “Color Cup.” However, what’s clever is that to up your reputation level and further your progress, no event, beyond the challenges against other competitors, needs to be won. This allows for less experienced players to feel they’re progressing through the game, even if ultimately they’re not gaining any gold stars. Meanwhile, more skilled players can go for gold stars. There’s a sense of accessibility without sacrificing difficulty and potentially deep controls.
There are various modes here, which helps to keep the game feeling fresh. One such mode is Color Frenzy, which comes in the form of team battle and free-for-all. This can be best described as Splatoon‘s Turf War but with scooters. It’s as fun as it sounds. If for some reason you own a Switch and don’t own Splatoon 2 (which shouldn’t be the case), this will work as a decent substitute. Although, this comes with the caveat that the AI often disregards large swathes of the map, choosing rather to vie for the middle ground, making gunning (or rather, scooting) for this area a fruitless effort.
You’ve likely played Trick Run, or a variation of it, in many games before — grab the most points in a time limit by pulling off as many crazy stunts as you can. Here, paint is purely aesthetic. Your moves are what matters, and just as it was in the Tony Hawk games, pulling off acrobatic feats one after another doesn’t fail to provide a healthy amount of fun.
Crazy Crayons is the game’s take on a Capture the Flag mode. Crayons will appear below a bright beacon somewhere on the map, with a new one appearing the moment the last is captured; the first to five crayons wins. In a word, this mode is serviceable. Although, it pales in comparison to the majority of other game modes. This is due to it not playing to the game’s main strength — the inherent fun found in pulling off new and interesting stunts.
Splat Tag is exactly as it sounds, coming in both chase and survive variants. This, unfortunately, suffers from the same problem as Crazy Crayons; without a focus on tricks, there is little fun to be found.
All the game modes mentioned can provide a healthy amount of difficulty, but what’s surprising is the ease with which one can breeze through the titular S.C.O.O.T challenges. These events are a one-on-one variation of Trick Run that takes the format of the basketball game H.O.R.S.E. The disparity in difficulty here is strange, to say the least.
The game’s major downfall is its presentation. As mentioned before, the title is often reminiscent of Jet Set Radio, but it’s just disappointing that one of the reasons is that it looks like a cel-shaded Dreamcast title. Music is another area where Splatoon is a clear inspiration. Despite this, the game’s music fails to capture any of the charm in the soundtracks to Nintendo’s squid shooters and feels a poor imitation.
Licensed games that are genuinely fantastic are a rarity, to say the least. Unfortunately, Crayola Scoot is not one of these top-tier titles, due to poor presentation and the matter that everything it does has been done better before. Crayola Scoot is not without its merits, though. An interesting approach to scalable difficulty and polished gameplay mean that, although it is no replacement for Splatoon 2 or the classic Tony Hawk games, it’s a fun title worth your time.
A review code was provided by the publisher.