I don’t recall the last time, if ever, that a game’s spin-off title has appeared before the game it has been spun off from. Still, there’s a first time for everything and Holobunnies: Pause Café manages to achieve just that. Launching ahead of its parent (Holobunnies: The Bittersweet Adventure) it comprises of three mini-games to introduce to the Holobunnies and their world. What’s unfortunate is that it’s so light on content and entertainment you feel as though it should’ve been the other way around. At least that way the Holobunnies and their abilities would be second nature but I’m getting ahead of myself.
You find yourself in a café with each of the Holobunnies kicking around. You can talk to them but there’s precious little dialogue to the point where I spent a good ten minutes wondering if I was pressing the wrong key. Eventually, I figured out that I wasn’t and that there really was just a line or so per bunny. Hopefully, my covering this will aid you in avoiding the same mistake and heading for the computer which inhabits the top left-hand side of the café. Here you can choose from the three games on offer. There’s the local multiplayer brawler mode where you and a friend take each other on, the speedrunner – Kitcat Adventures and Legacy Boss Rush. Of them all, I mostly played the latter two as, in all honesty, the brawler is the weakest of the three on offer.
The problem I had with the brawler mode was I really didn’t have anyone to play against. It’s human vs human only so no option to take on a bot or an online foe. Even when I gave the mode a shot it was okay but never felt like it was a mode I’d go back to. The lack of a single-player option here is a shame as at least you could challenge yourself against progressively harder opponents. As it stands it’s a rather lightweight offering and doesn’t set the tone well for the game overall. It feels half-baked and whilst Pause Café is billed as an appetiser I’d still be pretty miffed with things so far.
Moving swiftly on then and next up we have Kitcat Adventures. It’s typical speedrunning affair as often found on iOS or Android. You have a constantly moving cat which your only control is that of jump. Using power-ups dotted around the level you can go faster, slowly, multi-jump or turn around. You must then use these tools and your own cat-like ability to time your jumps. Whilst it’s a well-established mechanic it’s done rather well here and the levels have a good balance between easy to the deviously difficult. It’s not an easy balance to strike so it’s nice to see that things don’t get too hard too fast and that the later levels have a nice twinge of ‘just one more go’ about them.
Finally, we have Legacy Boss Rush which as the title suggests is a collection of boss battles. As you beat one you are transported to the next. You don’t get to pick which character you play as however, you instead play as one of the four Holobunnies on offer. It’s a shame that you can’t just pick your favourite to roll with but at the same time it will at least get you used to each of them. Unfortunately, there are only four bosses to tackle so it’s not exactly long nor, once you’ve learned how best to deal with each boss, are they a challenge. However, like Kitcat Adventures there’s a speedrunning element as your time to complete your four boss rush can be time and ranked. As you play and learn each of the character’s strengths and how to use their special appropriately you can get through them all surprisingly quickly, however, I’m still at a loss on how some get through them even quicker!
All three share the same art style and overall aesthetics and this is no bad thing as graphically Pause Café invokes fond memories of the old-school sidescrollers especially when you’re playing Kitcat Adventures. The colour palette is a bit muted save for some colour on the Holobunnies and assorted foes. Still, it looks rather nice and the Holobunnies do look rather cute. The soundtrack is cool too especially when you realise, during the Legacy Boss Battle, that the music is linked to the goings on in more ways than one. Its music has a decent punch to it and gives the boss battles a much-needed sense of frenzy. The controls are tidy too whether you decide to use a keyboard or a controller, however, there isn’t anything in the game that I could see to tell you exactly what button does what. Took me quite some time before I realised that each character had a special that I could activate using ‘B’ on the keyboard. What this did identify was the fact that the specials, whilst cool, weren’t exactly needed given that I was able to complete the Legacy Boss battles without using them but it still would’ve been nice to have known they were there sooner.
Overall Holobunnies: Pause Café is exactly what it says it is. A bite-size offering showcasing and no doubt drumming up some interest in the forthcoming Bittersweet Adventure. Depending on your disposition you could view this as a misstep. It’s short, at times uninspired in its level design and if you’re overly cynical comes across as a bit of a cash grab. What’s worse it could do the exact opposite and put people off Bittersweet Adventure if taken to the extreme. Personally, I think it’s a very serviceable offering with at least two games which are good fun for a quick blast. Best saved for those times when you’ve got a few minutes to kill but don’t want to fire up other games which will likely devour several hours of your life. It’s not a masterpiece and certainly, could have done with a bit more spit and polish, perhaps even another game mode. Still, if you’ve got a few dollars to spare then there’s no harm in dropping them on Pause Café.