When it comes to indie games, lots of titles end up getting a lot of Nintendo Switch port requests. One that was the focus of a lot of begging was Gears for Breakfast’s A Hat in Time. Which makes sense, given that this is an action game along the lines of Donkey Kong 64, Super Mario Odyssey, and Yooka-Laylee. Nintendo has a reputation, when it comes to personable platformers. Fortunately for all those people who have been wanting this game for a long while, it is a perfect fit.
If A Hat in Time is new to you, it’s a rather standard collect-a-thon game. Hat Kid is a young alien flying home, when she flies over a world run by the mafia. An enforcer comes to collect, causing all of the Time Pieces used to power her ship to be lost. She also has different hats and badges she can collect, each bestowing different sorts of abilities. However, in a bit of a twist, it isn’t like each area just has some of the 40 Time Pieces scattered about. Rather, each one has its own sort of activity assigned to it, to lend more meaning to actually collecting it. (Of course, other things like Pons, Relics, and Yarn can be collected as well.)
A Hat in Time feels like a good fit for the Nintendo Switch. A lot of the different areas and Time Pieces you can collect are laid out in a way where you play until you get that piece, then perhaps step away and take a break. It looks great in Handheld Mode and 720p, due to the fact that this was never a really graphics-intensive game to begin with. Like the 3D platformers from companies like Nintendo and Rare, it has a more stylized approach. Cartoonish characters roam its world, with their delightfully absurd appearances and proportions. Bright and colorful is a good fit for such a system. Some textures may look a little dated or have some issues, but given the nature of this game and the titles it pays tribute to, it seems somewhat fitting.
Its performance can vary, however. The frame rate really depends on the A Hat in Time chapter you are exploring. In Mafia Town, the first world, it tended to maintain a steady 30 FPS as I played. However, Battle of the Birds exposes some of its issues. When a lot starts happening on screen, the game doesn’t handle it all too well. In particular, The Big Parade and Award Ceremony both have some pretty big dips, and things might slow down a bit during a segment like Your Contract Has Expired. Also, if you happen to decide to bring along a friend to be Bow Kid and test co-op, the game can really chug in some Mafia Town segments and beyond. It can feel like there are some real issues attempting to maintain a steady pace, which could be compounded by the camera being a big problem when two people are around. My best recommendation is to go it alone and, when you reach the second chapter and beyond, don’t be surprised at occasional performance dips when things get too active or crowded.
At least some of the issues feel like the sorts of things that a A Hat in Time patch could eventually fix. There are some long loading times. Waiting to reach the main menu takes a few minutes. So does loading an area, though in this case it means no more loading while Hat Kid runs around, doing her thing. There are also some camera issues. In cramped spaces, say Hat Kid goes is in a small room, goes through a tunnel, or is under some kind of bridge, the camera just doesn’t cooperate with you. Controlling it and ensuring you get its positioning just right was an issue in its past releases as well, It was an issue on other platforms as well, where its awkwardness could get in the way, but in Handheld mode especially it can be a bit frustrating.
A Hat in Time is a fun indie that’s packed with personality. It calls back to the sorts of 3D action games we’d see on the Nintendo 64, where you could roam around themed stages in a colorful world, complete a silly story, and then eventually go back to try and collect absolutely everything. It generally feels like a good fit, though there are times when loading can take a bit longer than you’d expect, a lot of activity can cause the frame rate to take a dive, and the camera might not not be perfect. Still, some of these issues could be fixed with patches and A Hat in Time on the Switch is generally a pleasant time.
A Hat in Time is available for the Nintendo Switch.