Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back: The match 3 review

MomentSQ /

Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back is a straight forward match 3 with one very unique twist.

Title: Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back
Developer: HIVE Co., Ltd.
Platforms: iOS/Android
Release Date: July 16, 2020

I know I tend to start my articles with a personal aside I think the reader should know about me before they read my stuff. It’s become my M.O. and it’s probably repetitive to someone who reads a bunch of my articles in a row but I promise, this context is needed for this.

So a little about me, I did retail for roughly 20 years. At the bakery I work at now, I learned that my coworker was born a year after I started the job that I quit shortly after I started working with her, which made me feel ancient.

I was there forever and I absolutely hated it which filled me with joy when Sanrio, the makers of Hello Kitty, announced that they were introducing a new character; a red panda named Aggretsuko, a character who absolutely hates her job, internalizes everything and then lets it all out by singing death metal (with surprisingly offensive lyrics) at a karaoke bar while drinking. It’s perfect — especially with the fact that this takes place in the normally saccharine universe of Hello Kitty.

Yesterday, July 26, I was given the notification that the Aggretsuko game, Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back, was available for download. I dove in immediately and I’m here to tell you that, boy howdy, this game is a mixed bag.

So, Aggretsuko brings absolutely nothing new to the table. It’s a match-three that over time introduces new challenges to the table. There are powerups, there are blocks that move, replicate, or require you to break something next to it for it to disappear. You’ve literally seen each of these mechanics multiple times.

Normally, I have nothing wrong with this mechanic because it works. But here it’s strange because it is small. For something that should be awash in detail, it is so impossibly tiny. Check out this puzzle here.

Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back
MomentSQ /

The art style is cute and all but it’s so tiny, especially as I’m playing it on my phone.

As you continue onward, you earn stars. It’s the traditional one to three stars per stage format that’s been in every game since Angry Birds. The stars are a type of currency. In between stages, you find yourself in the office building where Aggretsuko has been given the task of remodeling the entire office to make it look better. It’s the same mechanic that’s been in a lot of match 3 games recently since Homescapes and Gardenscapes popularized it.

Sadly, I also have a gripe with this. There are no options. You spend stars and something looks a bit better. You don’t get to choose from two or three options. It’s just the one thing. It takes away any personalization which, I guess, does give me a feel for this sort of work.

Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back
MomentSQ /

The thing that makes this game special and unique, however, is pretty impressive. There are a lot of games based on shows. The surprisingly good We Three Bears game, for example, has all the same mechanics. There are also games for pretty much every show you can think about. And all of them feature weird cutscenes that give you some idea of a story. Not this game.

For about every few stages you actually unlock an episode of the show. Yes, a real episode. And through playing the game, you can watch all 100 episodes. They also unlock permanently so you can rewatch at any time. This is pretty awesome, especially for people without Netflix who aren’t able to watch otherwise.

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Parents should be warned, however. It might be a little worrisome for those who don’t know about this character and see it’s made by the same people who made Hello Kitty. It may look like an adorable kids show until the first song plays and she starts swearing a LOT. But I personally enjoyed it. It made it feel like I was getting out of a repetitive day of work and venting as well.

There are a lot of frustrating design choices in Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back but the fact I could occasionally watch an episode was the perfect carrot to dangle in front of me to keep me playing.

Outside of all this, the game is free-to-play but there are definitely microtransactions as well as a gotcha mechanic that allows you to bring other characters with you into the puzzle. These characters have their own special abilities but you genuinely don’t need it. Also, playing it now gives you one of the best characters from the show anyways, a coding, gaming fennic fox. You aren’t going to do better than that.

Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back
MomentSQ /

All in all, Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back brings pretty much nothing new to the table The addition of being able to watch the very short episodes of the show from time to time make it a really satisfying game cycle for those tired nights when you just want to lay in bed and stare at something glowy for a bit.

HIVE Co., Ltd.. . Aggretsuko: The Short Timer Strikes Back. 7. Aggretsuko: The Short Timers Strikes Back is a solid free-to-play title that brings nothing new to the table. But it doesn’t really need to, especially for Sanrio fans. Several questionable designs like the puzzles being very small and a lack of customization keep it from being great but being able to watch real episodes from the series is a big motivator.