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Secret Ponchos Preview

Nick_Tan By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Switchblade Monkeys 
DEVELOPER Switchblade Monkeys 
T Contains Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes

What do these ratings mean?

Let this secret spread.

Being slated for PlayStation 4's launch window was the best thing that happened to Secret Ponchos and its independent developer Switchblade Monkeys. The story of how it happened is almost a fairy tale: Several Sony representatives, dressed in plain clothes, scouted the show floor at PAX Prime 2012, played a short 20-minute demo of Secret Ponchos, and from among everything they played, decided that the game deserved to brought to the PlayStation 4.

Switchblade Monkeys president Yousef Mapara, a former art director for Radical Entertainment, was floored and immediately panicked given that the company was mainly surviving off the spare time of his friends and industry colleagues. He himself had to ask his wife whether he could quit his job to follow his dream of creating Secret Ponchos. Luckily, Sony offered development kits and other financial assistance to make his dream a reality. Aw, gives you all the warm feelies, doesn't it?

What's immediately apparent about Secret Ponchos, and something the Sony reps likely noticed as well, is how instantaneous the combat feels and how ingenious the concept is. Given the litany of twin-stick shooters and multiplayer shooters, it seems strange that hardly anyone has caught on the idea of mixing the two. In fact, it makes you wonder how this didn't dawn on developers sooner.

Secret Ponchos strikes a nifty balance between both shooter genres well, with swift animations, tight controls, and a slick taste of Western shootouts. After choosing their character from a roster of gunslingers, each with different loadouts and strengths, players duel it out on one of five maps, hiding behind cover, and evading bullets before they become human sponges. Players will find touches of inspiration from League of Legends and Team Fortress throughout the action, all while showing off the power of the PlayStation 4 with the smoothness of the lighting and cloth physics.

Whether in Team Deathmatch, 1v1, or 2v2 gun fights, most people I played against tended to choose the tougher characters like Gordo and The Deserter who wielded heavy weapons and strutted about the stage as if they owned the place, but I found that the sprightly Kid Red could dance around them with swiftness and a well-placed stick of dynamite. His dual pistols didn't have much power, but they had enough range and Red's got enough speed that he can weave in and out from the shadows, inflicting poking damage without much trouble. Then if he happens to get too close, he can throw or attach dynamite on any unsuspecting foes. A Western ninja, if there ever was one.

The release date of the console exclusive Secret Ponchos has yet to be announced, though Switchblade Monkeys hopes to be in the "release window" of the PlayStation 4, which I assume to mean within four months of the console's launch in November 15, 2013 in North America.
More GR previews for this game:
Secret Ponchos preview posted on 06/14/13.

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