To me, a good local multiplayer game is one that you and your friends, or even complete strangers, can pick up, play, and laugh over in less than five minutes. Such is the case with Heave Ho, a co-op platformer that takes a simple premise and turns it into a delightfully fun platformer.
No matter if you’re playing by yourself or with up to three friends, the goal is the same; using only a character’s arms, you must grab and swing your way to the end of every level. The analog stick moves the arms, while the L and R buttons on the Joy-Cons let you grab with your left and right hand, respectively. Swinging your character back and forth can be used to create momentum, which you’ll need to cross larger gaps that become more frequent with each passing level. What’s more, hazards such as spikes will be introduced that must be navigated around.
Played by yourself, Heave Ho can be challenging, but its levels are straightforward and test your patience more than anything else. Yet, while the levels are mostly the same in multiplayer, the dynamic is completely different. Where you could once cross a gap individually, you often have to form great chains where characters must grip each others arms in order to launch everyone across each level. If someone mistimes a jump or forgets to grab something, you and your friends will tumble into the void with a comical splat, respawning soon after.
Make no mistake: Heave Ho is a game that should be played with others. The chaotic energy that comes as a result of laughing and failing with your friends is one that cannot be replicated by yourself. What’s more, I found that the levels in multiplayer were much more interesting and difficult as a result — making four people work together is a lot harder when you don’t know how much momentum is needed to launch between the abyss and a wall of spikes. Sadly, because the levels are mostly identical across all modes, single-player is bland by comparison.
I also wish that there was more to do besides completing the levels to improve your time. On occasion, minigames will be accessible in the middle of levels if you grab a golden rope, and these are usually fun to play. However, besides improving your completion time and hunting down collectible outfits, there’s not much of a reason to go back and play a level again.
But when you’re playing with friends, that doesn’t seem to matter. Heave Ho is a delightful party game, one that encourages you to plan and laugh alongside your friends through each of its many stages. There’s room to improve, but as it stands, it’s a great multiplayer game to pick up if you’re in the mood for something unique.