Space Cows is one of the most mediocre twin-stick shooters on the Nintendo Switch.
Space Cows is about as dry as they come when compared to the plethora of other twin-stick shooters already available on the Nintendo Switch. The actual gameplay mechanics found throughout are fine, it's all the design choices surrounding them that work to hurt the game more than help it. Space Cows does have a few moments of fun, but arbitrary difficulty, dry humor, and weaker controls than the competition make this a game that's not really worth playing.
There's a story to be found but it never gets any meaningful focus. It also doesn't have to. The game takes place in space, there are cows, a bunch of aliens that need to be shot and a protagonist who flies around each stage naked. At first, the game gives off the impression that it's made for kids. Players will quickly realize that's not the case. There are a ton of fart noises placed throughout, so much so that it can actually become quite maddening after short periods of play. Space Cows is obviously self-aware but how anyone who had a hand in crafting this title believed that an over-reliance on farts would be funny is mind-boggling.
Space Cows is a really difficult game with a harsh checkpoint system. Levels are linear and lengthy. There's little room for exploration so players will just be tasked with going from room to room and taking out enemies. This is also where the game can become monotonous as there's little to no enemy variation until the latter half of the game. Even then though there still isn't a whole lot. The linear nature of the game makes it so challenges do feel more doable as the player continues to go at them. There is only one checkpoint found in each level so death could result in the loss of a ton of progress.
On that note, Space Cows doesn't include a lot of levels so this feels more like an arbitrary attempt at adding length to the game. As opposed to feeling triumph, most of the time finishing a level offered a sense of relief that definitely wasn't fun most of the time. The game isn't generous when it comes to health either so players will have to really try and get used to the floaty mechanics and abilities. Shooting is slow and overcoming enemies can require some pretty accurate shots. Nothing ever feels rushed or chaotic, and yet, the game can still feel really difficult. Thankfully the abilities work to make things a little bit easier on the player.
Three abilities are given to the player right off the bat and each of them can be strategically used to progress within the game. Dashing allows the player to have some invincibility for a short period of time. Slow-motion is pretty self-explanatory and doesn't provide too many benefits outside of some more strategic movement. Lastly, there's a combo bar that, once filled, gives the player a buff that lets them shoot stronger and faster bullets. Having access to every ability early gives the game a chance to counteract some of its difficulty as players can learn to utilize each skill to their benefit. In this regard, the game actually works pretty well, even if it lacks a sense of growth. Most other games in the genre offer roguelike elements that help add refreshing new mechanics on top of what's given right at the start. Space Cows doesn't do that and it's a worse game for it. Again, there's nothing inherently wrong with the gameplay it's just the linear levels and reoccurring enemies that push things to get old very fast.
As far as level design goes, Space Cows is fine. The linear levels have a couple of standout moments where players get locked in a room filled with obstacles and enemies. Boss battles are also quite challenging and pretty rewarding to overcome. Most of the levels are also filled with collectibles in the form of cows. To acquire them, the player will have to complete a brief minigame that feels totally out of place in a twin-stick shooter. All of these minigames are essentially browser games that really just act only to pad the game's short runtime. They're each simple enough where the game doesn't have to do much to explain how they work to the player. The game also encourages players to tackle them since they offer some bonus HP.
There are plenty of far better twin-stick shooters on the Nintendo Switch. Space Cows is a game that can just get by due to the fact that its core gameplay and a few standout moments are acceptable enough. The title should mostly appeal to those trying to have as many fresh twin-stick experiences as they can. For everyone else though, this title is definitely not worth investing time into. It's unfunny and hovers somewhere in between totally mediocre and completely terrible.
Space Cows is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC. A Nintendo Switch code was provided to Screen Rant for purposes of review.