I love minigame collections. Bishi Bashi Special and Monsters Party Cruise are two of my favourite party games of all time. Rayman Raving Rabbids is also a mainstay. They are bitesized, easy to pickup but cause a lot of multiplayer chaos most of the time. To do minigame collections well, you have to have character to stand out from the crowd and simple games that hide their competitive nuances. Salamander County Public Television bucks the trend slightly by focusing on a single player, narrative experience with minigames. It is absolutely unhinged but that brings with it a unique charm.
The premise is that everyone in Salamander County has vanished and as you and your boss commute in to run the TV station, you are the only ones left. No residents equals no viewing figures so your boss sends you off on random errands or just games to cheer him up from the impending doom of the station. Each day starts off with a narrative like this before plunging you into a minigame and its here where the games aesthetic and humour kicks in. Everything is made from stock images. Your boss, the tv ads running between each day and the games themselves – almost entirely stock images. It brings a humorous corporate dystopian background to everything and reminds me a little of a PS3 game I love called Hail to the Chimp. This isn’t as in depth as that game but the idea is similar – bask in stock image hell then play a weird minigame.
The minigames are weird but there are some gems here. Snake gets a mouse and cheese remake where the mouse’s legs big massive. Basketball is reversed so you don’t throw the ball, you throw the hoop stand. You have to throw an orange by rocking a banana back and forth to then lunge it off. Throw baubles at a Christmas tree to get the largest distances between them like reverse petanque. Build a giant waffle using a city landscape as stock planes fly in to crash into you. Wipe a chalkboard with a weird steamrolling eraser. Drop toppings on a leaning tower of burger. Go bowling by the pins multiply the more you hit them. Blow up toy poodle balloons to within a set size or get booted. There are 25 in total and they all play differently, with unique controls and are marvellously odd. You’ll be asked to reach certain limits for gold, silver or bronze scores whilst trying to snag a bonus condition too but ultimately your score matters little. If you get stuck, you can skip the day and continue the story.
As a minigame collection, Salamander County Public Television is engaging and stupid. I had a great time for the 2 hour story runtime, experiencing the minigames. A lot of creative ideas have gone into the game, including all the TV ads and meme worthy cultural things dotted around the menus. Where I think the game really misses a trick is allowing you to then play in multiplayer or some kind of pass the controller mode outside of that main game. Everything is here to market this is a local leaderboard gem but it just doesn’t exist. It is rare that I find myself so eager for a battle against my mates on stupid things like this and the modes just aren’t available. It is a shame.
If you want to set up your own competitions manually and are prepared to navigate through that story mode to get to the games you want, there is something good here. As a single player experience it was wild but holds less replayability. I still enjoyed my short time with it though and trophy hunters, you barely need to even attempt the game to get a very easy platinum. Enjoyable but flawed without some kind of multiplayer options.
Review copy provided by publisher. PS4/PS5 crossbuy version played.
Salamander County Public Television
Better than expected. The minigames are odd but there are some real gems here. Desperately needed a multiplayer option though.
Some minigame gems here (Poodle Balloons being my fav).
The stock image vibe is genuinely funny.
Lots of creativity from the story to the adverts to the sarcastic dystopian undertones.
Total lack of multiplayer options cuts replayability.
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