Pipistrello and the Cursed Yoyo [hands-on preview]

Pipistrello and the Cursed Yoyo [hands-on preview]

No strings attached. Okay, one string, actually.

One of the surprise games coming out of PAX East 2024 is Pocket Trap’s Pipistrello and the Cursed Yoyo. A Zelda-like — J.J. kept referring to it as a Minish Cap-like and he’s right — the game mixes overhead dungeons and exploration with a great cast and a genius hook: a yoyo.


And it’s so freaking good.

The PAX demo features a few areas to check out, but the initial zone, a giant mansion/dungeon combination, gives a great snapshot of everything that the game is about. We control a blue bunny-like hero as they face off against a city’s crime lords, with the stylings of a GBA Zelda game (overhead perspective ftw). It has great, poppy pixel visuals with a sheen of a classic portable console sheen washing over it. In fact, it’s SO on the nose about its influences that we can pull out the perspective even more and actually play on a screen within a GBA itself, purple plastic and all, to really lean in to the gimmick.

In this first zone we discover the basics of the game’s controls, which focus on traversing through small rooms by running and jumping over small pits. We can take out enemies with our yoyo, or we can grab objects (like keys) that are normally out of reach. The game has situations typical of the genre, like with puzzles requiring hitting switches to extend bridges or activate floors or drop barriers. And because they require being hit by the yoyo it makes for some fun concepts. In one of the early rooms I notice that the walls have slight angles instead of 90-degree corners. Immediately I think about hitting one with my yoyo, and to my joy the toy bounces off of it and veers to the right, then bounces off the next one and turns again, until it hits a switch that’s behind some blocks. It’s a simple idea, and not new, but this opens up some fun opportunities down the line for how puzzles can unfold. And I feel like I know exactly what to do when I get to whatever the next obstacle is.

The demo is filled with these little puzzle rooms, with the promise of more yoyo tricks and enemies and bosses and treasures along for the ride in the final game. This Zelda-meets-Startropics hybrid seems like a delicious experience. It has no release date yet, and no platforms designated, but let me be the first to ask Pocket Trap to get this on a GBA cart, because I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.

~~ Pipistrello and the Cursed Yoyo won a SideQuesting Team Choice Award at PAX East 2024 ~~