A town full of Fluffs who want to be Tuff!
At first glance, Button City reminded me of Animal Crossing. Miniature anthropomorphic characters skit around town which is navigated through stacked platforms of the different areas.
However, Button City unveils a heartfelt narrative in its pastel environment. The player takes the role of the young fox Fennel, who’s immediately befriended by a group of animal youths when he moves into town. Together, they’re swept up in all sorts of mischiefs including fending off rivals, exposing the suspicious tycoon’s secret plans for their neighbourhood, and ultimately learning the importance of friendship and the meaning of Tuff!
The Hustle and Bustle of Button City
Life is simple for the inhabitants of Button City, the namesake of the game. They have established a peaceful community with citizens running different facilities to complement their lifestyle such as running a mart, music store, coffee shop, and even a recycling centre.
As a young fox, Fennel’s priorities are different. When he’s recruited as the fourth member of ‘Fluff Squad’, they finally have enough members to compete in the town’s most popular arcade game: Gobabots. Fennel is thrown into a feud against rival team and reigning champions ‘Tuff Fluff’. Button City is littered with phrases like ‘Fluff’ and ‘Tuff’, which are the best praises one can receive in this niche city.
Though not everyone’s favourite pastime hobby is Gobabots. There are other minigames in Button City’s arcade: rEVolution Racer and Prisma Beats. A racing and singing game respectively, Fennel also partakes in these modes by challenging eager residents. Upon victory, Fennel wins arcade tickets and coins. The arcade tickets can be redeemed at the Prize Counter for bot upgrades in Gobabots, and arcade gimmicks in the form of clothing accessories or collectible décor. Coins can also enhance your skills in the arcade such as purchasing learning manuals, but they are the main currency for other items such as snacks, fashionable clothing, and miscellaneous items required for quests.
Besides an interest in the arcade, some townspeople are preoccupied with other concerns. After further probing, Fennel triggers quests which are catalogued in his Diary if he decides to take them onboard.
These vary from delivering letters between shy neighbours on different floors of an apartment block, and helping other furry friends improve their skills in the arcade games. Completing these quests usually reward you with additional inventory items, but I personally enjoyed the story element; it’s endearing seeing these miniature creatures’ flurry of appreciation after Fennel attends to their woes!
However, the main storyline revolves around uncovering the motive behind Peppermint Pepperbottom’s arrival at Button City - there are rumours that he plans to demolish the popular arcade. So Fennel, his team mates, and other impassioned citizens including the rival team, will do everything they can to drive Peppermint Pepperbottom out of town!
Fennel follows the storyline’s prompt or completes quests with casual pitter-patter steps. Although some may find this relaxing, it can feel tedious when you’re still trotting towards an item you can so obviously see.
Interacting with other characters or objects require the exact angle. So despite clicking to investigate an object or speak to a friend, Fennel will automatically move around until he’s at the paw prints before the action is triggered. If you accidentally press another button during this time, it will override Fennel’s movements. This was frustrating at first, but I quickly learnt not to press anything while patiently waiting for Fennel to move. Other interactions can be quirky, including discreetly eavesdropping on Pepperbottom’s meetings.
In contrast, the arcade games are extremely fun and operate at a much faster pace.
Gobabots is a quaint 4x4 battle featuring fruit-inspired bots that specialise in ranged, melee, or tank attack proficiencies with varying speed, power, and health. After selecting the preferred bot, Fennel and 3 teammates start at opposing sides of the map and aim for the blender in the centre to toss in collected berries for the biggest mega-smoothie.
Along the trek, Fennel must evade square bots as they steal a berry and damage his health. Run out of health and he respawns at the starting base. His opponents can also attack; not only will Fennel's health bar deplete, this knocks out ALL collected berries which they can pick up! Thankfully, he can do the same to them and if his Special is charged, a powerful attack can be unleashed.
rEVolution Racer is a typical racing simulator set against an aesthetically chilled backdrop. There are easy mechanisms for steering, and boosts for speed where the bar is usually charged at sharp turns.
Prisma Beats Is a rhythm minigame where you time the button mashing against its cues. This is usually my favourite minigame as I simultaneously enjoy the tunes and tap to the beat. However, the controls of this are clunky and difficult to coordinate. They’re fine for slower-paced songs, but I had trouble keeping up with rapid successions of symbols.
Button City evokes a calming presence in its pastel shades, and the main highlight of this eye-pleasing game is the cast. Although I had trouble identifying what animal every character is, particularly when there was more than one of the same species, they are true to their form from their ears to their tails. Styled uniquely, whether it be jewellery or simply donning accessories, these are cleverly interwoven elements that are not just visually satisfying but adds to the characters’ personality.
I delighted in their anthropomorphic faces shifting into adorable expressions. In some conversational or scene exchanges, the characters’ reactions are reinforced by them waving their paws in retaliation to supplement bolded texts.
There’s a constant gentle soundtrack whenever you’re traversing around town as Fennel. This accentuates the usual carefree lifestyle at Button City. If the acoustics switch to something sinister or vibrant, it reflects Fennel’s mood change dependent on the situation. In the arcade games, the soundtracks are slick and upbeat to match the tempo and competitive edge of gaming. So no matter where Fennel is or what he’s doing, you can be sure that there will be music to match!
Button City is a brilliant balance of storytelling, side quests, and minigames. The objectives in the main storyline are clear so there is no confusion in knowing what to do next. This gives players the freedom to take on quests, or simply explore what’s in Button City and challenge another citizen in an arcade game.
Nonetheless, Button City is endearing with its relatable quests for animal friends where we see the clever wits of the developer Subliminal Gaming in envisioning a society run by loveable critters, whether from everyday aspirations or the enjoyment they find in minigames.
So, why should you play it?
A charming cast of anthropomorphic characters with adorable names and expressions
A believable civilisation without humans that has amusing animal pun references
You’re after something light-hearted that requires little strategy
Gobabots – a refreshing minigame that is addictive fun
But why shouldn’t you play it?
You don’t enjoy travelling at a slow pace from one point to another
Some side quests have rather vague instructions
Cheery Fluffs and being Tuff isn’t your thing
A review code was provided for the purpose of this review.
Tiffany is an aspiring writer with particular interest in dystopias and angsty romances. She often finds herself immersed in games that are brought to life by their rich narratives and lavish landscapes. In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys long walks in the wilderness and relaxes with a book under the glow of a scented candle.