Review: Demolish & Build Classic (Nintendo Switch)
Welcome to the wonderful world of construction management. In this action-packed session, we will explore such riveting topics as Hammer Swinging 101, Real Estate Buying for Beginners, Contracts: Sheldon Isn’t the Only One Who Can Be Tedious, and Driving a Bulldozer Without Running Over Yourself.
Actually, the first thing you learn in Demolish & Build Classic is how to swing a hammer. You are dropped into a small town in the middle of nowhere and get to demolish some parts of an old office. Don’t get all hopeful with all the action available way out in the boonies; the town in the game is more like the unsettling campground in a slasher movie.
That aside, let’s talk about how the game plays on the switch.
The controls are mostly what you might expect for a game like this. You get a fairly standard arrangement of left joystick to move and right joystick to change the camera angle. When you are driving your truck, the left joystick steers and handles acceleration. This is the start of the complaints.
If you dig far enough from the start screen you can find the list of controls, but there is no real tutorial; it’s mostly “figure it out as you go.” Your helper back at the office will make a video appearance or will call you to give you a new objective, or contract opportunity. The markers have icons floating above them, but the game does a poor job telling you how to actually interact with them. As you move around looking for your next job site, the bits of scenery pop into existence as you get within about 50 to 100 virtual yards. The level of detail on the non-critical game elements is also on the low side. If you walk up to a building you don’t need to work on, the image looks like a skin from about 20 years ago. Even the critical game elements are, shall we say, underdeveloped from a graphics standpoint.
If you want to take a drive around, you are free to do so. The downside is that the driving experience is pretty bad. The left joystick plays double duty for steering and acceleration. Where you might expect the ZR button to provide the gas pedal, what you actually get is the horn. You get the horns with the ZL as well. Who knew your horn was so important it needs two controller buttons?
Besides the awkward driving controls, it is a bit too easy to crash into things, roll your truck, or even get your truck hung up on a guard rail. Speaking of getting stuck, you can do this on foot as well. As a curious type, I just had to see what would happen if I took a running jump from a hill toward a spot beyond a property boundary wall. To my surprise, I found a spot where I could make the jump. Once on the other side of the wall, I was able to walk among the trees. Sounds pleasant, no? No. With a wall behind me and an insurmountable mountain before me, all I could do was go to the left or to the right. Each of the two directions I could take only let me get so far before hitting the invisible boundary wall. Sadly, this left me with no way to get back onto the playable grid. Scratch that profile.
When you do get to work, it is easy stuff—just press Y to swing your hammer at things. There is a tiny circle to let you know where the impact will be. The right joystick/camera angle can be used to line up on small targets. Here, too, the game is a bit mushy. The targeting for your hammer is not very good. You can take plenty of swings with the targeting dot lined up and hit only air, and way too often. You don’t have to just smash things, you get to carry things and climb on things, too.
When you are done with a task, your business associate will tell you where you need to go and what you need to do for the next. Remember the instructions because the in-game map is not very good at highlighting your next objective. There is also a sort of assignment radar you can use to spot items of interest or targets for your hammer’s attention.
Demolish & Build is visually dated, and most of the audio components are borderline annoying. The environment and execution of the first few objectives is sparse to the point of being boring. Having to endure all this before even getting to any of what should be the cool demolition vehicles was very demotivational.
The remaining game points, like working out land buys, contracts, and vehicle maintenance—not to mention actually breaking things or building things—may be interesting for some of the more dedicated gamers who really like managing those kinds of details, but this game is not much fun. While I very much appreciate the effort game developers put in to entertain us, Demolish & Build Classic falls flat.
Even the title shows signs of issues for the game. On the Nintendo site, the official game title is Demolish & Build Classic, but the game seems to call itself Demolish & Build Company. It seems there is some sort of identity crisis going on with this game, in more ways than one. The really sad part is that the issues found in this version of the game are very similar to the previous version from 2018. So, apparently, there was little to no real effort made to improve the old version. Bummer.