Glitch Busters: Stuck On You is a 3D co-op platformer from Tokyo studio Toylogic Inc. who have had a hand in the development of various co-op games such as Warlander and Happy Wars. It’s a PS4 joint and it’s out now at the not-quite-budget price of £15.99.
The game is set, conceptually, around the world of YouTube live streams. In this online world, content creators (mainly ‘idols’ which is some sort of Japanese thing about pop stars) are being besieged by the sort of issues that these people face in real life. Namely, technical issues and online trolls. And so it’s up to you and your squad to take on these nasty bugs and trolls and bring order to internet.
Interestingly, your four-person team can be made up of any mix of real online buddies or AI bots and then it’s up to you to travel back and forth through the game’s five areas (the game progression isn’t quite as linear as it first looks) taking on platforming challenges, shooting bugs and defeating each stage’s boss.
The game immediately feels similar to something like the Astrobot titles with its traditional 3D platforming, bright visuals and clean aesthetic. You and your squad are able to run around separately, hitting switches and destroying enemies, or they can stack up, allowing the player at the top to reach otherwise inaccessible switches. The controls and mechanics take a little getting used to but the level layouts are quite well-designed.
The game also mixes things up by putting in some interesting set-pieces and variations to the gameplay. For example, one level has your squad stacked up as they jump and shoot their way through a side-scrolling shoot ’em up level (see screenshot above) while another sees them racing downhill through advertising hoardings where they need to find gaps to safely travel through. It’s great to see that type of variation although most of the time these set-piece sections seem like they’d be a LOT more playable if you just had one character to worry about. In co-op they seem like a bit of a nightmare at times.
That’s a good example of the kind of thing that Glitch Busters doesn’t quite nail. Like how the game seems pitched towards younger players but the difficulty is probably going to be a little too much for them or how the camera seems to constantly find a way to let you down by switching from having your character on-screen to suddenly lurching forward so that you can’t see them. A problem that seems to get worse when your team is stacked.
From the stiff controls, to the fussy platforming, the game never seems to flow. We often found ourselves misjudging a jump (usually because of the low camera angle) only to find ourselves caught in the scenery, which just speaks to a lack of playtesting for us. However, things got worse when one of our squad suddenly found that their camera had entirely glitched out and that their player didn’t seem to be able to move, bringing our play session to an abrupt and frustrating end (see screenshot below). But then when I, as the host, tried to continue alone, I then got the exact same issue. A full restart of the game made it go away but it’s not a good look.
Also, while some of the level design does well to give you that Astrobot kind of feel, that’s where the comparisons end as, by comparison, Glitch Busters feels clunky, messy and a whole lot less slick. We know this is a PS4 release but that feels like a cop out. Why couldn’t they have made this for PS5 and incorporated some of the haptics that made Sony’s game so special. This game doesn’t even have basic vibration.
But with all that said, if you can get a solid session going with a few human buddies, Glitch Busters can be playable and (kind of) fun. At best it’s pretty ordinary but co-op will always elevate things a bit and while the whole YouTuber/idol/streaming thing may be more irritating than fun, it should appeal to younger audiences.
For now though, Glitch Busters needs work. It needs to be slicker, less glitchy (ironically) and just better. But in the hands of an undemanding squad of players who just want a bit of online platforming fun, it just about does a job. At least when it’s working.
+ Breezy, colourful presentation
- The camera is a mess
- Not the best 3D platforming
- Some of the mini-games don't work well in co-op