Families are always looking for fun computer games to play together. When I shared my 5 Best Computer Games to Play During a Pandemic, I was blown away by the response for one game in particular–Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly. In three days, I received more emails asking about Baron than any other review I have ever published (personally and for GeekMom). So, yes–It’s high-time I gave you a more detailed review.
Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly
I think I have been playing this game so much over the last month, I can now simply call it Baron. It is that addictive. Even the neighbors slipped a note under the door asking,
“WTH is Baron?!? We can hear them asking for it from upstairs, followed by loads of laughter and now we need to know!!”
Baron is a computer game available on Switch, Steam, and XBox One. Coming from indy developers, Dogmelon, I first saw this game at PAX Australia 2019. Baron is at its best when played with friends and family but it has a handy ‘Flight School’ solo-play section (if you need to work on some barrel rolls). In its most basic form, Baron is a party-game with planes, music, and weapons to bring out the laughs. You fly across the screen, you shoot down the opposing planes, and with each round you can choose a special weapon to give you some advantage. It’s like a more dynamic version of Worms. With maybe a little more old-school class.
Everything about Baron pulls heavily from the Great War period. My great-great-uncle was a pilot with the British Air Force during World War I. Unfortunately, he died in battle but not before writing home to my great-grandmother and sharing stories of daring adventures. She would have loved this game. From the music to the newspapers and the general vibe of it, I know Nanna Mc would have been first to grab the controllers. It’s that good.
Who is the Target… Audience?
This game is best played with others. Perfect for families, young and old. In fact, I find the kids last longer in this game than I do; a common issue between my truck-a-saurus hands and the itty-bitty Switch controllers. That, and the fact that I suck at flying these damn things. But that doesn’t make it any less fun. On the contrary, it levels the field and makes the game far more enjoyable for the family because the kids know I’m not compensating for them.
All of the art, music, and dialogue is family-friendly. There is low-grade violence as you shoot-down your opposition, however, the damage is provided in a comical fashion without any gross details or graphic representation. We have played this with the 13-year-old, 10-year-old, and 6-year-old. While the 6-year-old may not win as often as the 13-year-old, she can definitely hold her own.
You’re a Cartoon Animal
Let’s talk about graphics. You have a selection of eight cartoon animals to choose as your playable character. You also have a selection of planes, with various abilities and features. Personalizing your craft is more than aesthetic; it is about strategy as well. But no matter what you choose, it will always come back to the adorable cartoon graphics. They are simple, beautiful, and carry an innocence that totally belies the time period.
The only downfall with this game is the size of the graphics. While I see the comical benefit of shrinking the characters, especially to fit so much activity on the screen, it does make it more of a challenge to follow what is going on. My eyes are definitely not the strongest in the family and I often realize too late how I have lost track of my red plane and inadvertently been following Zaltu’s pink bilby instead. When you combine the graphics with the size of the controllers, I am grateful for the short-term play of this game. About 30-minutes of play suits me just fine.
There are also limited moments of sudden flashes and movements on the screen. If you are susceptible to photosensitive seizures, please have a friend or family member run through the game first.
Mechanics! Over Here!
There are a couple of things you will need to wrap your head around before you start to play, and this is where the ‘Flight School’ is really helpful. ‘Flight School’ is an extra feature for solo play, giving you a training ground to practice your flying and learn new schools. You compete against the clock and collect coins. I strongly recommend you give it a go first to familiarize yourself with the layout of the game.
For one, there is no fixed boundary around the screen. If you fly off-screen to the left, you are going to pop-up on-screen to the right. If you fly straight, you will disappear off-screen before stalling and falling to the ground–but don’t fret because you can pull out of the stall. In fact, the only fixed boundary is the ground. And yes, I tested this. Many times.
Flight controls are fairly easy to follow with the joystick controller. However, if you happen to ‘flip over’ your plane, there will be a short period of time where your controls are reversed. You can also roll to the left or right to avoid certain attacks and weapons, with some degree of defense when doing so.
Finally, the controls for the weapons themselves are pretty simple. You have a button to shoot the gun, a button for the special weapon (with a mandatory recharge before re-use), and a button for taunting. I love this one–it releases a cloud of smoke in your character’s color and insignia shape.
Sweet Bonus Features
In all honesty, what really makes this game is the extra features. Music, newspaper articles, character backgrounds. All of these are clearly bonus details to add to our enjoyment. At the end of each round, our family loves comparing notes on our accuracy of attacks and defense. We pause the screen to read the newspaper articles about our characters. Best of all is when we all start singing along with the background music: “His name is Fluffe Bot!!”
All of this adds up to a truly enjoyable game. I would put this up there with Mario Kart in the same group/party atmosphere while having a fewer solo-features; and I’m actually happy about that. I think Baron has far more opportunity to level the playing field in our family, compared with Mario Kart. I also think Baron offers a more adaptable backstory to entertain us. Whether this is the ‘novelty’ talking or a defining characteristic of the game, only time will tell. And I have plenty of time to find out.