Good Job! does a good job of making you want to do a bad job and a bad job of making you want to do a good job.
If that sentence was confusing, that makes sense, because the game is too at times. It’s never truly settling on what it wants to be. That doesn’t mean the journey isn’t a fun one, though! Don’t worry, we’ll explain.
Announced and released immediately during the March 26, 2020 Nintendo Direct Mini, Good Job! puts you in whimsical office situations, usually ones in which you’re tasked with some sort of logistical activity. Move this projector in place! Gather these people! Sort these boxes! It’s never entirely clear what the business does, but whatever that main work product is, you’re never touching it. It’s a satirical piece through and through, and the company is left purposefully generic. As a result, it better resonates with more players and allows for all sorts of departments with their own specialized tasks to ruin.
Part of Nintendo’s external publishing initiative that already gave us SFB Games’ Snipperclips and Tarsier Studios’ The Stretchers, Good Job! comes from developer Paladin Studios, the team behind Stormbound and Momonga Pinball Adventures. While these games didn’t exactly burn up the sales charts, each demonstrated a clear sense of visual identity, and that comes through here. What’s true about all three may give us some insight into what pitches resonate at Nintendo: all fit right in with the company’s push to have bursts of two-player co-op fun that works even with limited Joy-Con controls. Nintendo wants games that make players fail together and laugh about it.
Good Job! communicates through a stylish, colorful, abstracted sort of look that serves everything about the game very well. By keeping objects simple and people to stick figures, it makes the environments much more immediately legible. It also allows for a subtle whimsy and universality to the proceedings! Screenshots and videos of the game generally look like a fun thing to play, and the simple quick fun you’d expect is backed up by the design it delivers.
Physics games like this are often built around frustration. Often, that comes with the engine simulating too much and making things more difficult. Good Job! hedges its bets a bit on that. It allows for silly physics sometimes, but implements lock-on systems for the sorts of things you need to do a lot, like plugging in a thing or getting someone seated in a chair. It’s an attempt at retaining the “fun” frustration without making you too mad at the small stuff. In practice, it seems to work.
Each floor offers a certain “department” of the company, with a small set of challenges leading up to one that often combines things you’d learn on that floor. It’s a tried-and-true method of designing these things, for sure. Still, it works for the sort of pick-up-and-play experience that Paladin delivers. You could start co-op with a new player on any floor and not need too much instruction to handle it. It does get harder later in the game, but if at least one player played the previous levels and knows how objects and tools work, it’s still doable to jump in.
Now, to head back to the name of the game and that confusing sentence up there. Good Job! is a game that, on its surface, hopes players strive for perfection. It’s timing you, and judging you based on how much property damage you do and how many things you break. So presumably it wants you to not break things and finish quickly.
The more time you spend with it, though, the more you start to realize that it really doesn’t want those things. Your overall letter grade is seemingly only pulled from that time score. Outfit collectibles are strewn about each level and often require destruction to reach. The “safe” route’s intentionally very time-consuming and never the fastest option.
It’s with the mindset of doing an awful job quickly that Good Job! shines. Launching printers through walls and breaking shelves over people is the sort of silly, cathartic fun that most people need about now. We just wish the game were a bit better at the messaging up front. That way, players would know the damage scores are something you can engage with if you choose, but not something to stress about. As it is, you have to make that judgment yourself, and there’s a cost to your enjoyment until you do.
Good Job! is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop.