Astro Bears for Nintendo Switch review: A stellar party game for up to four players

Astro Bears isn't as much of a new game for the Nintendo Switch as it is an updated version of Astro Bears Party which released in 2017. The gameplay is basically what you'd get if Super Mario Galaxy and the classic game, Snake, had a baby. Up to four players race around a sphere in space leaving a ribbon trail behind them. If someone runs into a trail they die. The point is to see who can outlast the other players.

Sonka, the game's publisher, adds more to the traditional Snake mechanics by allowing characters to dash ahead of other players or use their jet packs to jump over a ribbon trail to avoid a collision. The catch is that each character only has a certain amount of energy to use. If your energy is depleted, you might not be able to avoid certain doom, so you'll have to be strategic about where you run and how long you use your jet pack.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I passed Joy-Cons out to my friends and turned the game on. Within a few minutes, we were screaming maniacally at each other and cackling as we cut each other off. My poor cat kept looking at us in terror wondering what was going on. I was surprised at how such a simple game could provide so much entertainment. After spending more time with it, I've determined that this is the perfect party game; It's super easy to pick up, gaming sessions aren't very long, a fun 80s-style theme plays in the background, and the aesthetics are really good. I just wish there was more to it.


  • 2 - 4 players in multiplayer
  • Single-player mode
  • Pleasant graphics
  • Bears have different stats
  • Fun 80s-style music
  • Leaderboard scores


  • Only one music track
  • Not a lot of variety
  • Gameplay might make some players feel sick

Simple-yet-fun mechanics

Astro Bears: What I like

As stated before, this game is an updated version of an existing Nintendo Switch multiplayer. Anyone who purchased the original version will be upgraded to the new version for free. If you haven't purchased it yet, you only have to dish out a measly $7 to get it on your Switch. For that price, it's really worth having on hand for when friends come over. Unlike some party games that drag on forever, this one can be over in a few minutes. So, you can easily pick it up or drop it without getting too invested.

The updated version doubles the original roster of four bears to eight bears, provides a two-player co-op option for Jetfish Hunting, and makes it so you can access online leaderboards. This game is made up of three main modes: Party, Competitive, and Jetfish Hunting. Each option changes up gameplay a little, but the overall mechanics are the same. While there isn't a lot of variety this game offers a level of strategy I wasn't expecting to find, which makes playing super fun.

Gameplay: A small amount of strategy

Something I love about this game is that you'll get a completely different experience depending on which of the eight bears you choose. Each has their own stats that affect running speed, how fast you turn, how long your jet allows you to stay in the air, and how long it takes for your jet energy to regenerate. Additionally, you can change up gameplay by choosing from four different planet sizes - the smaller the planet, the harder it is to stay alive. You can also choose whether or not each player's ribbon fades over time or if it stays constant through the round. I found that changing these settings shakes up gameplay just enough, so my friends and I could play for long stretches while still being entertained.

In Party mode, two to four players compete against each other simply to see who can outlast the others. You get to determine planet size, whether or not your ribbon never ends, and how many points it takes to win. Games can be as short as a race to 20 points or as long as a race to 160 points. I found that time flew by super fast so I usually opted for longer games. When four people play together, the person who lasts longest in a round is awarded 4 points for winning, the second place gets two points, third place gets one point, and the person who died first gets nothing.

Competitive mode is for two players. It has you select a team of three bears and then you play like you would in Party mode with only one bear out at a time. Once you've won a round with one bear you won't be able to use it anymore. The game ends when someone successful beats the other player using all three bears. I like this mode because it forces you to prove that you can play well regardless of your bear's stats.

Finally, Jetfish Hunting can be played single-player or in two-player co-op. Players run around the planet collecting fish strapped to a jet pack. The more fish you collect, the longer your ribbon trail becomes making it harder to avoid. Once someone crashes, the game ends and your score gets added to the leaderboards. This was honestly very challenging to play in two-player co-op, but that also made it extra fun.

A small thing I really liked was that if someone pauses the game then when they unpause a three-second countdown starts to prepare all players instead of simply throwing you back into the fray. It prevents anyone from getting the upper hand whether they intentionally or accidentally pressed the pause button. I also love all of the silly bear puns riddled throughout the game. When you die, a word or phrase like "Grizzly" or "Can't bear it" pops up on your section of the screen and just adds to the lightheartedness of the whole thing.

Leaves you wanting more

Astro Bears: What I Don't Like

The catchy 80s-inspired music that I loved for the first several rounds became a little annoying after a few more sessions. I wish there were at least one or two other tunes to shake up the never-ending beat, but that's not the case. As it is, I eventually just muted the TV and kept playing.

After playing a few Party rounds one of my friends began to feel off. He stated that the quick movements around the sphere messed with his eyes and made it hard to focus. If you experience motion sickness, just note that this game might affect you.

As I said previously, this game is very simple and offers enough strategy and fun that you can play it for long stretches at a time. With that being said, I wish there were different games that didn't involve running around a sphere. It would give the game more variety and allow me to play it even longer.

A super-fun party game

Astro Bears: The Bottom Line

This simple multiplayer is the perfect party games since it provides enough strategy to keep players invested, it's easy to learn, and the rounds don't take very long. Considering how little it costs and how much entertainment I got out of it, I'd say this is a great game for any social gamer to have in their library. You can even play solo if there's no one around to play with you. The ability to add your scores to the leaderboards definitely makes single-player more appealing since you have the whole world to compete against.

As with any game, this one isn't perfect. While the different modes can keep you entertained for hours you could get even more out of this game if there were more modes to choose from. When the game first started I loved the upbeat 80s-style music that played on repeat, but after several rounds, I got tired of it. It would be nice if a few different tracks came on instead of having the same thing over and over.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.