GamingReview: Grapple Dog

Review: Grapple Dog

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The platforming genre has been done to death. Consequently, it is hard to find a unique and original title amongst the plethora of junk games. However, when you do find a great one, it entertains you throughout. Thankfully, Grapple Dog does just that with its whimsy plot, cute characters, and deceptively cruel gameplay.

Developed by Medallion Games and published by Super Rare Games, this is a colourful platforming experience. What’s more, it has plenty of collectables, lots of levels, and loads of extra content to complete. In short, at first, it appears to be a basic and underwhelming game, but you soon realise it is more complicated than first meets the eye.

The overworld is navigated using a small boat in Grapple Dog.
A boat is used to move between each stage.

Grapple Dog proves that underdogs can win.

Unfortunately, the hero of this story is a little dim. Yet, this doesn’t stop this fun-loving pooch from living a full life. However, this gullible creature unwittingly releases a malevolent force and endangers the inhabitants of his colourful world. Undeterred by his stupidity, the hound is determined to right every wrong. As such, he undertakes a monstrous adventure filled with danger, robots, bosses, and many chasms.

The story isn’t particularly original, but it matters not. I adored the cute play on words, the excellent narration, and the tongue-in-cheek undertones. Moreover, the gentle learning curve and interesting stage design ensure that newcomers and veterans are equally tested. On top of this, gamers can alter the difficulty by removing damage and increasing Pablo, the protagonist’s jumping capabilities. Alongside this, you must remember that Pablo is no ordinary, albeit stupid, dog. No, he has been gifted a special grappling hook that’ll help him swing over chasms and explore each stage.

A giant robot dinosaur chases Pablo as the stage is destroyed.
Run as fast as you can!

Standard platforming mechanics.

Like many of its peers, Grapple Dog utilises some well-trodden tropes. You’ll wall jump, double jump, hit boxes, land on your enemies, and so forth. None of these mechanics will surprise you, but when they are combined with the collectables and the additional level content, they work perfectly. The 33 levels of madness are split over 6 different worlds. Each of these worlds comprises a boss battle, bonus levels, and time trials. Furthermore, there are coins to gather and other minor elements to look for.

Though each stage was fun, I enjoyed the additional content the most. The boss battle focuses on a linear level that tests your reactions, memory, and any new abilities you have. This was great, but it was equally frustrating. Why was it so annoying? Well, trying to collect every item while being chased by an enormous robot was never going to be easy. However, this enhanced difficulty certainly increases longevity and is rewarding when you are successful.

The bonus levels and the time trials reek of padding the game out. Yet, I didn’t care. I thoroughly enjoyed the silliness of the bonus stages and the break away from the traditional platforming elements. Furthermore, the time trials pushed me to my limits and kept me coming back for more.

Grapple Dog is wonderfully old-school.

If you consider the best platform games, your mind focuses on any Nintendo title. This platforming powerhouse has cornered the market, and every developer looks at their games for inspiration. Accordingly, Grapple Dog reminded me of Super Mario Bros, albeit with a more polished finish. The vulgar colours, the bold character design, and the hidden paths were reminiscent of this platforming masterpiece. What’s more, the engaging stage design, the variety of enemies, and the combination of additional content ensure that it remains fresh throughout.

What wasn’t so great was the audio. The repetitive soundtrack is annoying as hell even though it works perfectly with the theme. Its chirpy and upbeat nature is wonderful to listen to, but it never changes. Disappointingly, hearing the same song on a loop for hours on end is torturous. Unfortunately, this arduous decision was the biggest downfall in an otherwise great experience.

Pablo is using his grapple hook to swing between two platforms.
Just keep swinging.

Excellent controls.

When a game requires accuracy and speed to progress, you need a fantastic control layout. Thankfully, Medallion Games has delivered on this aspect. With a simple approach and responsive inputs, you’ll master it in no time. What’s more, a basic tutorial ensures that you know exactly what is required from the off.

Grapple Dog is an inexpensive title that is jam-packed with content. Furthermore, the gradual learning curve and game-changing elements make it accessible to all skill sets. Alongside this, you must consider the collectables, the time trials, and the bonus levels. All of these things demand that you keep playing while increasing both replay value and longevity.

Grapple Dog is a fantastic retro experience.

I should probably moan about the lack of originality or the overused platforming tropes. Yet, I won’t! I cherished Grapple Dog because of its reliance on familiar gameplay mechanics. Moreover, I adored the cute characters, the whimsy story, and the excellent stage design. However, I can’t excuse the poor audio and one major issue I had with my save files. Disappointingly, a glitch wiped my progress multiple times. This was understandably frustrating, but I’m assured it is an issue that will be resolved. Despite its shortcomings, I still believe that it’s a fantastic retro experience. Consequently, I recommend that you buy it here! Can you stop the malevolent force from destroying your home? Avoid the chasms, destroy the robots, and find every artefact.

SUMMARY

Grapple Dog is a fun and familiar platforming experience. With colourful graphics, interesting stage design, and cute characters, you'll love the whimsy style. Furthermore, there is plenty of additional content and loads of collectables, and it is tougher than it first appears. Disappointingly, though, the audio is repetitive and I experienced issues with my save data.


+ Cute old-school graphics.
+ Excellent stage design.
+ Simple controls.
+ Lots of replay value.
+ It is brimming with additional content.
+ Amazing for all skill sets.

- The audio is repetitive and annoying.
- I had issues where my save data was wiped.

(Rating: PEGI 3 Release date: 18/11/2022 Price: £12.49)


(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam) and Nintendo Switch)


Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

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<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="font-size:14px"><em>Grapple Dog</em> is a fun and familiar platforming experience. With colourful graphics, interesting stage design, and cute characters, you'll love the whimsy style. Furthermore, there is plenty of additional content and loads of collectables, and it is tougher than it first appears. Disappointingly, though, the audio is repetitive and I experienced issues with my save data.</p><br/> + Cute old-school graphics.<br/> + Excellent stage design.<br/> + Simple controls.<br/> + Lots of replay value.<br/> + It is brimming with additional content.<br/> + Amazing for all skill sets.<br/> <br/> - The audio is repetitive and annoying.<br/> - I had issues where my save data was wiped.<br/> <br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(<b>Rating:</b> PEGI 3 <b>Release date:</b> 18/11/2022 <b>Price:</b> £12.49)</p><br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam) and Nintendo Switch)</p><br/>Review: Grapple Dog