When looking at new games to try out there are a number of different things that I look at. I generally gravitate towards games with creative new gameplay ideas or games in genres that I really enjoy. Another thing that intrigues me though is a good story or charming atmosphere. This is what initially intrigued me about Button City. Just looking at the game’s trailer it looked like a charming tribute to the 1990s. Button City is a cute and charming story of childhood and friendship filled with 1990s nostalgia whose gameplay doesn’t quite live up to the atmosphere.
In Button City you play as Fennel the fox. Fennel is shy and has recently moved to a new town with his mother. After his mother forces him to go out and explore town, he discovers the local arcade. At the arcade he makes some new friends and meets the quirky residents of the town. When the local greedy businessman Peppermint Pepperbottom threatens to close down the arcade, Fennel and his new friends must try to save the local arcade which has given them so much.
When I first saw Button City the thing that intrigued me most was the game’s overall story and atmosphere. The game’s overall style honestly reminded me a lot of Animal Crossing. Button City did a good job living up to my expectations in this area. The game utilizes a low poly style which I think works really well for the game. The game is colorful and filled with interesting characters in a city that you want to explore. For a more casual/laid back game, the game really does a good job setting the atmosphere.
This extends to the story as well. I will admit that the story may not be for everyone. Don’t expect a gritty story filled with dark themes. The story is cute and charming. The story is mostly about childhood, friendship, and a local community built around 1990s nostalgia. The story was created so the whole family can enjoy it, but it is still interesting enough to hold an adult’s interest. Not everything has to be dark and grim to be an entertaining story. Sometimes you just want a charming and uplifting story to make you feel better. Button City does a great job in this area. The game’s characters are interesting and unique. Unless you despise cute and charming stories, I think you will have a hard time not smiling throughout the story.
Lets move onto the gameplay as that is what most people are probably most interested in. The gameplay of Button City is kind of a mixture of a number of different things. A lot of the gameplay revolves around exploring the town, interacting with the residents, and completing various quests/objectives. Many of these objectives involve talking with various characters or picking up and delivering items.
The other major element of the game involves a number of mini-games. Many of these mini-games are inspired by classic arcade games. There is a DDR/rhythm based game, and an arcade racing game. Probably the biggest mini-game is Gobabots which is a game where you and three AI controlled teammates compete against another team to deliver the most fruit to a blender in the middle of the arena. Each character has their own unique weapon which can be used to temporarily eliminate competing characters as you acquire the fruit scattered around the map.
As for Button City’s gameplay I have more mixed feelings than the atmosphere. The gameplay is not bad, but I don’t think it quite lives up to the story and atmosphere. The gameplay is pretty simple where I wonder if the game was made more as a children’s game that adults could enjoy as well. Honestly the game is not particularly difficult. You obviously can’t fail/die in the game. If you lose one of the mini games you just get to attempt it again until you are finally able to win. Basically if you play a decent number of video games I don’t really see you being challenged throughout the game. This will turn off some players, but it does mean that it will work well with children or those that just want a relaxing experience without having to be stressed out by the gameplay.
I ultimately found the gameplay to be fun enough, but I don’t know if it is strong enough on its own to pick up Button City. Basically you also need to be interested in the atmosphere and story as well. As I mentioned earlier a lot of the gameplay revolves around talking to people around town and picking up and delivering goods. I didn’t mind these elements as the town is charming enough that I didn’t mind the exploring. If you generally hate fetch quests though, I don’t think Button City will be for you. The game also has a few puzzles, but they are quite straightforward where I don’t see people having any trouble solving them.
Probably the more entertaining aspect of the gameplay are the mini games. I generally enjoyed the mini-games. The mini games are pretty fun and the controls are simple enough where you can jump right into them. Gobabots is probably the best mini-game as it is the most fleshed out. The whole premise behind the game is kind of silly, but it is fun gathering up as much fruit as you can and getting it to the central blender. I really only had two issues with the mini games. First like the rest of the games they are quite easy where unless you make a number of mistakes you probably don’t really have to worry about losing very often. The only other issue is that they don’t really change all that much each time you play them. Gobabots allows you to use different characters which have different stats and attacks which changes up the gameplay a little. Once you have played each of the mini games once though, you basically know what to expect from all future plays. The games are fun enough that you will have no problem playing them a couple times, but outside of maybe Gobabots I don’t see them as something that you would want to play over and over again.
So I am going to preface the rest of this paragraph by saying that this review of Button City was based off of a preview build of the game. Therefore there will likely be some updates to the game that should fix the issues that I am going to talk about. While playing Button City I did notice a few bugs. I wouldn’t say that any of them were huge or game breaking. I did have to quit the game at one point as the screen went completely blank after switching locations. One character’s speech bubble wouldn’t leave the screen until I talked to them again. Finally one of the sidequests was basically impossible to complete as the hit detection on one of the Gobabots weapons didn’t work right making them ineffective in the game. These issues were mostly minor though and they could have possibly already been fixed by the final release of the game. Outside of being a minor annoyance, none of these really ruined the experience either.
As for Button City’s length it will somewhat depend on what type of player that you are. If you just focus on the main story and ignore the side quests the game will obviously take less time than if you try to complete all of the quests. The time you get out of the game will also depend on whether you choose to play some of the mini-games just for fun. If you just do the bare minimum without doing any of the side quests or play the mini games again for fun, I would guess that the game would probably take around 2.5-4 hours. If you do the side quests and play the mini-games for fun, I think it will add another couple hours. Button City is not a particularly long game, but I wouldn’t say that it is short either.
I enjoyed my time with Button City. The game’s story/atmosphere is cute and charming. The story is fun and the characters are interesting. It is hard not to have a smile on your face while playing through the game. Meanwhile the gameplay is fun, but it doesn’t quite live up to the story/atmosphere. The gameplay is on the simple side which means it is quite easy. The gameplay mostly consists of fetch quests and some mini-games. These elements are fun enough, but I wouldn’t say that they are a main reason to pick up the game.
My recommendation for Button City really comes down to your thoughts on the overall atmosphere of the game. If you generally don’t care for cute/charming games or want really hard or deep gameplay, Button City likely won’t be for you. If you are looking for a fun lighthearted experience though, I think you will enjoy your time with Button City.
Buy Button City online: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Steam, Xbox Series X|S
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Subliminal for the review copy of Button City used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.