Developer: Spicy Tails
Publisher: Spicy Tails
Release Date: September 5, 2019
What Just Happened?
If you don’t know what Spice and Wolf is, this will without a doubt be your initial reaction to watching the ending credits roll after just fifteen minutes of gameplay… if you can even call it that.
The truth is that there isn’t much of a game here. You’re just watching the two protagonists engage in banter that ranges from irritated to playful — and then back again. Story Mode only has three chapters, during which all the players can do is rotate the camera and to view Lawrence and Holo’s interactions at different angles.
Lawrence is never named or given a formal introduction, and the entire game takes place inside a dilapidated wheat mill as he and Holo wait out a storm together.
If you are a fan of Spice and Wolf, whether this game is a hit or miss is entirely dependent on what sort of experience you’re expecting. If all you want is a window into some tender moments between Lawrence and Holo, then you’ll enjoy it. If you were hoping for something more, you’ll find the experience lacking.
Nintendo Labo and Virtual Reality
Nintendo Labo is needed to view Spice and Wolf VR in virtual reality. Without it, you’ll have to settle for spinning the camera around to mimic the three-dimensional experience. You can turn it 360 degrees, which makes the simple setting seem a bit more dynamic. While the graphics are pristine, they’ll do little to compensate for the inability to view Spice and Wolf VR as intended, and will seem more like a gimmick than anything.
Spice and Wolf VR also features a mode called “Interact”, which allows you to spend some one-on-one time with Holo. It’s pretty much fan service — Holo will speak the same few phrases to you, you’ll fetch her some bread, and she’ll reward you by allowing you to pet her. This won’t completely work unless you have virtual reality enabled, so this is reserved only for those of you who are using the Nintendo Labo.
There are small tasks to complete, which require that you point your camera directly at an object. The only payoff, though, is a checkmark on a list and a remark or two from Holo.
If there was more to it, Spice and Wolf may well have been an immersive foray into the world of these beloved characters. Instead, it seemed a lot more like a demo for the prospects of virtual reality — it demonstrated that it does have potential on the Nintendo Switch and could eventually become something extraordinary. It’s a small milestone for Nintendo, but isn’t much to celebrate in and of itself. If the game had been just a bit longer or made the player feel a bit more involved, it may have been better received. Hopefully, Nintendo’s next attempt at virtual reality won’t be like this one.
Overall Rating: 4/10