Review: Radio Hammer Station (Switch)

Swing that hammer, to and ‘fro, swing that hammer on the radio!

Radio Hammer Station is a rhythm-action game for the Nintendo Switch and it is an enhanced port of the game’s previous mobile and 3DS release. The game follows members of the pirate radio station Radiohammer as they fend off all manner of creep and crawler with their enormous hammers, live on the air.

Radio Hammer Station is a two-button rhythm game; in each stage, baddies approach the player character, who must swing their hammer above or below (using the buttons or the touch screen) to dispose of them, with proper timing. Keep a combo going and the Fever meter will build up, activating automatically and boosting score gained. On occasion, a present will appear for a brief moment behind the character; collect it to recover health or gain additional Fever meter; be careful, for trap boxes can appear, too. Clear the stage and shoot for one of three stars that constitute the stage’s grade. Miss too many inputs and the character’s health will go down, and the stage will end.

Radio Hammer Station is split up into four character stories, with episodes dividing the stories further. Also playable is guest character Celia, the android protagonist of indie game Cross-Code, who has her own set of stages. Clear stages and harder versions, called “Another” stages, will unlock, containing harder patterns. “Otherworld Mode” speeds the game up further and introduces other hitches. There are also dozens of in-game trophies to attain.

Graphically, Radio Hammer Station is a charming, if modest 2D affair. July Ann and the rest of the Radiohammer crew are distinct and well-characterized, with their own set of animations and win poses. Compared to the mobile release several years ago, the characters have more animation frames, and the effects are much more fluid.

Though Radio Hammer Station has over 100 tracks, none of those I played are quite distinguishable from one another. The tracks do not exceed a minute and a half, in most instances, and often tracks will repeat across different stage segments. This can get repetitive, and detracts from the sonic appeal of the game.

The game is very easy to complete the first time through, though the Another stages and the Otherworld mode offer additional challenge. It stands in the echelon of similar mobile music games that are quick to pick up and play, and easy to resume again later. Playing the game all the way through at once would not take much time, but it would be tedious, due to the repetitive and shallow nature of the core gameplay loop. The short stage length and the stop-and-go pacing of the game aren’t endearing.

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