Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, developed by Snoozy Kazoo and published by Graffiti Games.
Has it ever struck you as particularly weird that in Zelda games, Link is constantly barging into other people’s houses, breaking their pots and making off with their money, and he never seems to face consequences for it? The developers of Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion have certainly picked up on it, and they’ve fashioned an entire adventure around a character whose sole purpose in life is to create problems for anyone in his path.
Set in a universe inhabited by sentient food products, the titular character – who has an evil smile perpetually plastered onto his face, and whose “dialogue” consists almost entirely of ellipses – has already committed tax evasion before the game has even begun. The mayor gives Turnip Boy some chores to make up for the money he owes, and the joke is that while he consistently completes his tasks, he indiscriminately steals, vandalizes and kills in the process, leaving his town in a greater state of disarray than when he started.
For a comedy title, Turnip Boy is a reasonably funny one. It’s short enough that its primary joke never gets old – I particularly liked the running gag where Turnip Boy responds to any document he’s given by immediately ripping it in half – and nearly every NPC exists to drop non sequiturs that all sound like the stuff I used to text people late at night while high on ambien. An encounter with a needlessly-aggressive macaroni noodle got an audible chuckle out of me.
As an homage to Zelda, however, Turnip Boy just doesn’t have the girth or intricacy of Nintendo’s flagship franchise. One of the reasons I’ve stood by the Zelda series, even through its worst days, is because there’s nothing else quite like it in the industry. Its particular dungeon/overworld/dungeon rhythm is rarely imitated, and even when unrelated developers attempt to recreate the formula, the puzzles and bosses are rarely up to par.
While I could maybe complain that Turnip Boy’s soundtrack dangerously straddles the line between “catchy” and “grating,” or that only being able to equip one item at a time is needlessly finicky given how many of the Switch’s buttons aren’t even used, the game doesn’t have many noteworthy flaws, per se. Instead, it’s all just too simple and too straightforward. The dungeons don’t even have any maps, because they’re too small in scale to need maps. The moment-to-moment enemy encounters are dull, and the bosses don’t rile up enough excitement to make up for it.
After a while, it became evident that the only reason I kept playing Turnip Boy was to drink up more of that amusing dialogue. That’s more of a hook than many games can offer, but it was barely enough to hold my interest for even the couple of hours it took to blaze through the short campaign.
As much as I loved Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s intention to make the series follow a similar open-world formula from here on out leaves a void that I’d love to see filled by other developers, yet the secret to crafting a classic Zelda adventure remains as elusive as the recipe for Coca-Cola. I appreciate that Turnip Boy managed to make me giggle a few times, but I can’t say it justifies a fifteen-dollar price tag.