Have you ever wondered what would happen if the crazy cat dude next door decided to become a professor whos spaceship is filled to the brim with wild and exotic space life that just happens to love eating their interns? Find out in our review for Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets.
Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets comes into play as a newly released title from the developers of the side-scrolling puzzle turned adventure title Nihilumbra. The amazing minds at Beautifun Games are no strangers to games of this type, crafting intricately designed puzzles and maps.
Through your adventure of 100 levels, multiple chapters included, you get to spend your time exploring through winding corridors, using terminals while Lupo’s horrible pets make their way in your direction, each looking to turn you into their latest snack. Your entire experience is simple: Navigate each grid-like room, using the touch screen or Joy-Cons to toggle doors, airlocks, and setting traps against the aliens that seek to turn you into their latest snack.
But what exactly makes this game stand out among the rest? Let’s talk about Professor Lupo and His Horrible Pets on Nintendo Switch.
That poor, poor, poor, Intern.
In Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets, you take on the role of a man only known as “Intern”. Your job is simple: You work for Professor Lupo, traveling throughout the galaxy and gathering one of the most impressive collections of alien life, or as Lupo refers to them, his pets.
During your initial introduction to the story elements of the game, the aliens themselves seem rather tame, colorful, and cute, to be quite honest. At first, while they appear this way, there is a form of deception already brewing in the shallows of the game. What Lupo doesn’t tell you: These creatures are all killing machines, ones that Lupo plans to sell as weapons to the highest bidder, and his auction is about to go awry when the space station, housing all these pets, become a victim of a military-ignited attack.
Due to the attack, Professor Lupo’s “pets” manage to get free as the space station itself succumbs to the damage over each and every level. Your job for the professor becomes quite clear within the opening minutes of the game: You’re his test subject, to show off just how smart the creatures are, but to also ensure the survival of yourself and his creatures.
Over the course of the events more will unfold before you through instantly-unlocked dialogue options, but also, hidden items placed throughout most of the maps you will explore. During your time with the game, you will notice that the difficulty does increase with every mission completed, each one offering its own challenges as well as new mechanics that will come into play.
The puzzles. Oh, those puzzles.
One of the things you have to know about Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets, is that this is a puzzle game at its very core. It, just like Nihilumbra, focuses on those very mechanics from start to finish. Each room is designed to work as a grid. Each spot on that map is where and how your character, the Intern, will maneuver from location-to-location as you play.
Each spot you tap on the screen or guide him to with the JoyCons is a spot he will move to, allowing you to navigate each map as you need in order to get about quickly. Some of these maps will require the use of both hands or precise usage of the Joy-Con itself. As you play this lethal game of cat and mouse, you will find that your interactions are extremely important. One miss tap, one wrong directional movement via the Joy-Con can actually lead to death, which will ultimately lead to you restarting the current level.
Each level does come with its own unique challengings ranging from interactive door panels to monsters, to intricately designed puzzles that will require extremely well-timed movements as well as terminal uses. But it may not come out clearly within the first few levels. The first chapter is all a giant tutorial to help you familiarize yourself with each and every creature you might encounter, while chapter two is all about the more detailed layouts you will encounter, while chapter 3, well, it just goes balls to the wall from there.
Each creature does come with their own unique abilities. The worm-like aliens will cover themselves in spikes, rushing at you as quick as they can, making sure they try to turn you into their very next meal while the little hedgehog guys will do just as it sounds. They’ll pursue you, rolling you over into a pancake, and then leaving you to go down with the ship. Others will leap about, using their ability to use their ears as a bungee cord to zoom after you while you run away screaming at the top of your lungs.
Puzzles will also include flame walls that will help you burn out any aliens in your path or even gas traps to help either eliminate or freeze an alien creature into place. The usage of traps, doors, and other events become important elements in the game, each one forcing you to think ahead of every step you make, and ultimately consider your actions before becoming a snack for an alien creature.
You’ll want to consider every functional piece of the puzzle before beginning to make your moves. To be honest, this puzzle game is one of the hardest I’ve had to play yet. Whether you care for puzzle games or not, I can’t urge you enough to give it a whirl and see just how far you can go with it once you get the hang of every game mechanic it has to offer.
Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is actually one of the best games of its type on the Switch
Now, one thing that caught me off guard about Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is the fact this game works best as a touch screen title. More than once I found myself removing the Joy-Con’s, setting them aside, and playing the game as I would on my Galaxy Tab S2 or my Samsung Galaxy S10+.
The game isn’t just responsive, it’s super responsive, and every tap of your fingers are quickly recorded, making this one of the quirkiest games the Switch has to offer in the terms of cleverly designed puzzle games the Switch has to offer. While there aren’t tons of mechanics, the functionality of the game is amazing, and with how portable it is, makes it even better.
Surprisingly enough, it also runs rather smooth, never dipping below the seemingly well-established 60fps even with all the animations going on in the background. With everything being hand-drawn, what else could you expect? It’s great and it’s pretty light on the battery, allowing our first-gen Nintendo Switch to run it for a solid six hours before needing to charge our device.
However, don’t let this game catch you off guard. It’s not the easiest title on the planet, and there will be some puzzles that will catch you off guard, requiring you to give them a good try or six. Each level – if failed too many times – will begin to give you hints about what to do. One may tell you that the functionality of one lever will be set off by another or one alien may stop another from impeding upon your quest to escape Lupo’s ship.
Sadly, not everything is great about this game, which needs to be pointed out
One of the most unfortunate parts about Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets, is that there’s not a ton of information about what aliens do what, what puzzle solution may be best for you, or dropping a hint at where to go when a puzzle has been failed a few times in a matter of seconds.
While I didn’t struggle as much as my friends have in recent days, it did take me nearly a month to clear the game, much to my very own frustration and at times, causing me to walk away for days at a time. However, luckily for us all, there are checkpoints that will allow you to resume where you left off on some of the larger and more difficult levels.
The challenges themselves don’t actually change all that much, nor do they even offer too much challenge compared to what you might expect. On one hand, one mission may have you attempt to rescue one of the invading soldiers from the fleet attacking the shuttle, using that person as bait for a creature in order for you to escape.
Another level may require you to send an alien out, forcing it to eat another alien, only to activate a flame trap to incinerate it as it enjoys its midnight snack. On top of the mechanics and small troubles comes additional challenges in the form of collectible items. Those items are completely optional and are more-than-likely best left to be collected once you complete the game, letting yourself enjoy the story before you hunt out items that could alternatively grant you things such as new levels, alternative endings, etc.
To be honest, they add in a lot of replayability for those of you looking to jump back in. Unfortunately, the story itself is okay at best and should be considered as a side-element to the main functionality of the game, which is its puzzle elements.
Now, hit the button so we can get off this ship – The Conclusion
At the end of the day, Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is a rather long indie puzzle title, shipping itself with 100 levels and added content through collectible items. It doesn’t shy away from being a challenging title, one with replayability that’s absolutely dependent on your will to dive back in, pushing as far and as fast as you can without little to any hesitation.
Those looking for a challenge, won’t be disappointed, it’s a game that balances challenge to mastery, allowing players to feel a sense of accomplishment with the completion of each and every level. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed 90s games of this style such as The Dig, I wasn’t disappointed, and to be honest, I’m still going back and giving it another chance while trying to obtain every single collectible in the game.
Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets
Platforms: PC and Switch
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: BeautiFun Games
Publisher: BeautiFun Games
Release Date: Available Now
With that being said, I absolutely recommend this title to puzzle fans whether you are on PC or Switch alike: It’s a great game that offers countless hours of pick-up-and-go fun.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.