No Swamp People in sight
When I was a kid, a lot of my friends matured earlier than I did. While I was still watching cartoons and playing with stuffed animals, they moved on to more “mature” forms of entertainment, like WCW or In Living Color. For whatever reason, I was determined to stay a kid for as long as possible, even if that made me uncool. One show that absolutely kept me in that adolescent state of mind was Rugrats. I know I’ve written about my adoration for that show on this site before, but I can’t overstate what an impact that Nicktoon had on me. It’s the sole reason my imagination is as active and vibrant today as it was 30 years ago.
I was well into my teens before I finally stopped watching and grew up, but it’s because of that show that I have great admiration and appreciation for entertainment that emphasizes imagination and creativity. Entertainment like Lil Gator Game.
There really isn’t much to say about Lil Gator Game because there really isn’t much to it. It’s Breath of the Wild by way of Nature Cat. You play as Lil Gator, who sets out on a quest to get his older sister to spend time with him again. Many years ago, Lil Gator and Big Sis would spend their weekends playing an adventure game the older sibling would put together for the younger one. Inspired by the exploits of their favorite green-clad video game character, these games would feature cardboard monsters for Lil Gator to smash on his way to victory.
Now that Big Sis is in college, she doesn’t have time to play like she used to. But Lil Gator ain’t having any of that and convinces himself that if he can just design the most epic adventure ever, she’d put down the laptop and come join him.
The bulk of Lil Gator Game has you exploring a few islands soaked in autumn colors as Lil Gator rounds up friends and strangers to help him put together this grand adventure. To get the other animals to join in, you’ll need to perform some sort of easy task that likely won’t take you more than a minute to get done. Once they decide to come and play with you, they’ll gather at the local playground and help transform it into an amazing fantasy town. When he isn’t helping out his newfound friends, Lil Gator can smash cardboard monsters and pots for their valuable paper currency or participate in a few timed challenges.
Imagination is at the forefront of almost everything in Lil Gator Game. From the actual game-within-a-game Lil Gator is attempting to create to the tools he acquires around the island, there is so much here that feels like it was pulled directly from the mind of a child. At its core, this is a celebration of the very concept of play and the games we can invent when left to our own devices. Add in the childlike sense of invincibility — nothing can hurt Lil Gator here — and the adorable way he waddles up and down hills, and you have what might be the most accurate depiction of adolescence gaming has seen in recent years.
The climbing and gliding elements borrowed from Breath of the Wild only further a kid’s natural inclination to explore, and the developers did an amazing job ensuring the various ledges and peaks of these islands would be traversable. With an incredible script featuring joke-a-minute dialogue and a gorgeous presentation, this is a game that can speak to the lil’ kid inside us all.
There isn’t all that much to say about Lil Gator Game because there really isn’t much to it. It’s simply a wonderful game that I think will resonate with those who have cherished memories of the simpler days of youth and long afternoons spent exploring the world around us. We all have to grow up sometime, but Lil Gator Game is a great reminder of why you should never completely stop being a kid.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]