Like if Rainbow Road was refracted through Cardcaptor Sakura
September 25, 2019 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Sayonara Wild Hearts is the wickedly neon bisexual fever dream of a pop album I didn’t know I needed [Polygon] “Sayonara Wild Hearts doesn’t waste any time getting the player into its gorgeous, techno-pop-driven dreamscape. The main character is transformed into her strong and fashionable alter ego in the opening moments of the story, as she tries to track down renegade tarot cards, who are also strong and fashionable women. You don’t need to think about any of this much, should you choose not to. According to the voice over (performed by Queen Latifah, would you believe it?), you must chase the tarot deck through obstacle-laden tracks, riding everything from a skateboard to a high-jumping deer and guiding them left and right across a twisting, humming path. Occasionally, you deliver a flurry of timed punches against fabulously posed enemies by tapping buttons in time with the music.” [YouTube][Launch Trailer]

• 'Sayonara Wild Hearts' Is a Brilliant, Beautiful Celebration of Pop Music [Vice Gaming]
“People who like Rez don’t just like Rez, they love Rez, the 2001 game which blended electronic music and on-rails shooting. It’s a game likened to a religious experience that opens one’s eyes to the possible. And while I’ve always had an intellectual respect for Rez, my repeated attempts to make it past the first few areas failed for a pretty important reason: I cannot stand the music. Electronic music does less than nothing for me, I actively dislike it. Without that, Rez falls apart. But pop music? Pop music has always been, and continues to be, a genre that speaks deeply to me I love its deceptive simplicity—and its bubblegum formulaic construction. I love the way it can make you nod your head and tap your feet—and curse a catchy chorus that refuses to leave your head. Most importantly, it makes me happy. Sayonara Wild Hearts, the latest from the visionaries behind Year Walk and Device 6, is my Rez. It’s an interactive pop album, a fusion of game and music, a shooter and a rhythm game. It’s an experience that’s Carly Rae Jepsen by way of Anamanaguchi, an infectious album of music that, on its own, would be excellent, but the journey of flying through its pulsing beats and wavy vocals is inexorably enhanced through play.”
• Sayonara Wild Hearts is an electrifying ride through a world made of pop culture [The Verge]
“At the outset of Sayonara Wild Hears, a narrator — voiced by Queen Latifah — describes a world governed by three powerful arcana, and a new heroine who has emerged from the shard of a broken heart. That girl then appears, riding a skateboard across an astral highway, chasing an ethereal butterfly. Once she captures the creature, the heroine transforms into a masked superhero and sets off on a journey through a pink-and-purple fantasy realm where she chases biker gangs, rides a deer through a mystical forest, and explores a retrofuturistic VR realm. Things only get stranger after that. The entire game is structured like an album, with distinct stages that last just a few minutes. The game isn’t shy about its influences.” In fact, Swedish developer Simogo posted them all on its website, and it’s an extensive list:
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a soup made of pop-culture. It’s OutRun, the “teddy girls” sub-culture, Carly Rae Jepsen, Rez, cafe racers, WarioWare, Blümchen, the 1950s, modern dance, Akira, F-Zero, Space Harrier, Sia, Gradius, the 1980s, Charli XCX, Sailor Moon, Ouendan, Tron, Rhythm Tengoku, Punch Out, and a good portion of ourselves, strangeness, and mysticism stuffed into a blender
• Cool as Hell [Kotaku]
“The variety of ways that Sayonara Wild Hearts experiments with its two basic inputs is straight up magic. One minute the game is an on-rails runner that has you narrowly avoiding obstacles, the next, it’s Rez, throwing enemies and projectiles at you that you need to highlight with a cursor and shoot. Sayonara Wild Hearts keeps you guessing. That constant shakeup teaches you how to play and how to navigate new obstacles, but more importantly, it allows you to experience something that is equal parts fun and meaningful. Each level of the game is a beautiful and almost hypnotizing parable about fighting internal demons and overcoming mental hurdles. [...] Some games invite you in and ask you to like them. Sayonara Wild Hearts is different. It’s unapologetically confident. Sayonara Wild Hearts wears shades while she blows bubblegum bubbles, not even looking in your direction. It’s undeniably cool, and if it’s not your thing, then Sayonara Wild Hearts is like, whatever. It wants to take whoever does love it and ride off into the neon sunset with them.”
posted by Fizz (26 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
People who like Rez don’t just like Rez, they love Rez, the 2001 game which blended electronic music and on-rails shooting. It’s a game likened to a religious experience that opens one’s eyes to the possible.

Can confirm. I don't even experience synaesthesia, and rhythm isn't really that important an element to success in the game -- but something about Rez fuses the senses in a deeply satisfying way. I didn't love all the music styles in Rez, because "electronic music" is not some monolithic thing like this author seems to say -- but it works very well in context.

A lot of pop music turns me right off, but I am willing to try SWH anyway because it sure looks pretty and I love the concept.
posted by Foosnark at 7:56 AM on September 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Rez is amazing, and the PS4 version has a VR option that I haven't tried. Still, it's a hell of a thing on our projection screen. Thanks for the pointer to Sayonara Wild Harts. I need something to get me into the flow state these days; maybe this'll do it. (Rez used to, but the overarching story is a sexist put-off.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:09 AM on September 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Full disclosure: I worked on ancillary services related to Apple Arcade.

Article doesn’t actually mention it, but this game is part of Apple Arcade, and is the only way to play it besides the Switch. We used it as one of the launch titles during our fall keynote a couple weeks ago.

So if you signed up for Apple Arcade you have the game so check it out.
posted by sideshow at 9:01 AM on September 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

Correction to above: Sayonara Wild Hearts is also available now on the Playstation Store for PS4.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:04 AM on September 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

FYI I played Sayonara on my Apple TV Gen 4 (A8 processor) with a PS4 controller... and it worked really well! So if you have that particular configuration of hardware, it's a really good option and shows Arcade's promise as a console competitor for indie games.
posted by adrianhon at 9:20 AM on September 25, 2019

I played half of it (so far) on Switch on a big screen with decent stereo and it's great!
I have a penchant for games that foreground music in any shape or form, so I'm biased, but so far the game delivers on the promises of the reviews.

I'm not sure I would enjoy it as much in handheld or a similar smaller screen, but if you're dipping into Apple Arcade by all means give it a try! (And doubly so if you have a big screen option.)

In either case, the Waypoint crew mentioned in their latest podcast that the game is best experienced by not reading too much about it to avoid spoilers about some gameplay stuff (and one narrative reveal), so just a heads up.
posted by bigendian at 9:27 AM on September 25, 2019

I should only really buy this or the goose game. I'm almost physically in pain with the choice.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:42 AM on September 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

(also prompted by Bigendian, should give a shoutout to how good that Waypoint podcast is, for real)
posted by ominous_paws at 9:47 AM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

should give a shoutout to how good that Waypoint podcast is

Small aside, check out Kotaku's Splitscreen as well. It is also just as wonderfully entertaining and informative.
posted by Fizz at 9:51 AM on September 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

This game is super fun and my only complaint is that I wish there were more of it.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:01 AM on September 25, 2019

My first play of this on Saturday gave me tingles up and down my spine. It's that good. Admittedly one of those tingles may have been my brain cracking open the set of memories laid down all those years ago when I managed to get the Butterfly Ending on Rez at the point when SWH says "hello I would like to pay tribute to Rez now".

I did not get those again when I did the "play all the levels in sequence" mode the other day. I should go back and start figuring out how to get a gold rank on each level; the first couple are easy but once you get the first motorcycle level, even a perfect runthrough of the Obvious Path is nowhere near enough for that. Something to pick at over time, though I'm sure there's someone on Youtube who has already done it. And someone who's figured out all twenty-four of its hidden Zodiac-themed secrets. Me, I'll take my time.

Also: I have a small mental list of Books That May Also Be Magical Initiations, and this game just plopped itself on this list and is staring at me, daring me to say it doesn't belong.

Short and sweet and pretty awesome and I wish I still had things set up with a 70" projection sprawled across my closet door, my new place is better in many ways than the last one but lacks big uninterrupted expanses of wall.
posted by egypturnash at 10:46 AM on September 25, 2019

Oh, and my capsule description in terms of existing media: It's like if Jeff Minter got an art budget to remake Polybius as a Sailor Moon tribute.
posted by egypturnash at 10:47 AM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

i'm waiting to play this and some of the meatier apple arcade games until the service launches on Mac, which is supposedly happening next month at some point? sideshow, don't get fired or anything but uhhhhhh maybe you could sneak us an exact date... >_>
posted by JimBennett at 11:30 AM on September 25, 2019

I signed up for the Apple Arcade free trial just to play this. It is as advertised - the music is killer (soundtrack is on Spotify), design is gorgeous, gameplay is fast and fun. I love the "teddy girls" look. My only complaint is that on the iPhone it's really hard to shift side to side quickly without turning on high sensitivity, which is then too twitchy. I'm thinking of getting it for the Switch so I can use a proper controller.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:51 AM on September 25, 2019

I liked Anna Anthropy's take:

if rez is, as jeff minter called it, "panzer dragoon with its trance trousers on," then sayonara wild hearts is rez in an extremely queer blazer with a book about astrology. and a sword.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 1:02 PM on September 25, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm thinking of getting it for the Switch so I can use a proper controller.

FWIW, iOS 13 supports PS4 and Xbox One controllers (so I'm told--I haven't tried it myself).
posted by box at 1:40 PM on September 25, 2019

It does, I’ve tried it with a PS4 controller, and it works well.
posted by adrianhon at 2:17 PM on September 25, 2019

I've never even had the chance to play Rez and I love Rez and this looks fantastic too. Definitely going on my list to buy!
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:18 PM on September 25, 2019

Man, not being from the console gaming generation and not having had kids and being forced into it is really starting to annoy me.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:23 PM on September 25, 2019

Now I want to play Rez again
posted by vibratory manner of working at 6:13 PM on September 25, 2019

I should only really buy this or the goose game. I'm almost physically in pain with the choice.

Can confirm that goose game is absolutely fantastic but I'm seriously considering also nabbing this. Good indie games are all worth supporting imo
posted by RobertFrost at 10:31 AM on September 26, 2019

Played through it on Switch, and it is indeed excellent. It seems like there's a fair amount of secrets yet to uncover if the "Zodiac Riddles" are an indication. I do want to put forth the caveat that there's a lot of strobing effects which can't be disabled, so the game might not be a good fit for photosensitive folks.
posted by NMcCoy at 5:40 PM on September 27, 2019

I just finished doing the Album Mode for the second time after spending some time working on figuring out and executing the gold-rank path through a few more levels. Right now I've got gold up to the fight with the Howling Moons (minus the level before it, I need to try a few more things), and the level near the end where it suddenly turns into Rez because when I got there the first time I just kinda... went away and was replaced by a machine for playing Rez. It's good stuff.

If you want spoilers on the first few levels, or don't care to play it yourself, I've been posting each gold-rank run on Youtube.
posted by egypturnash at 8:19 PM on September 27, 2019

I played through this last night and GOD, what a gorgeous game! This lines up with so many of my interests it's comical, and executed so well too.

I really appreciated the feature where, when you fail a section too many times, 'The Magician' offers to skip you past it. A bit of compassionate anti-frustration game design in a medium that too often puts high difficulty on a pedestal.

Time to replay on Album Mode, absorb the story a bit more, and then have a crack at some of the Zodiac secrets.
posted by Glier's Goetta at 1:49 AM on October 1, 2019

This game is amazing and beautiful and I want the pin they made and at least one of the t-shirts they made and possibly a workout class themed to the aesthetic?

Also I am BAD at it. Getting a gold run on, like, the second level near killed me.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:01 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

holy jeez. the part in "begin again" where the ground splits open and the chorus kicks in and you ditch your motorcycle and start flying. insanely beautiful. like before playing this game i'm not sure i've ever seen a sequence in a video game that's so pretty it makes me want to legit cry.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:12 PM on October 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

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