The Wild West is a very cool genre that has inspired many a child’s playtime, Secret Ponchos tries to embrace this with it’s quirky twin stick shooter style. Secret Ponchos Official Site.
Secret Ponchos presents you with a quintet of rogues with fairly stereotypical roles, Killer is well balanced for beginners, Kid Red is fast but squishy, The deserter is tough but slow. Each has it’s own starting strengths and weaknesses which can be upgraded with skill points earned through your victories. The characters are nicely designed and well animated and certainly have a nice wild west feel to them.
The game is a twin-stick shooter viewed from an isometric camera; matches are online only and fall into some typical forms. Free for All is a 8 player death-match mode where the most kills gets you the win. Death-Match is 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2 team mode played out over 3 rounds and Domination is a 2 vs 2 mode which is the first to 5 points, a kill gains you a point but a death looses you one. This is the most interesting game mode as well matched teams play a nice tense tug of war for points.
There are a few problems that really hamstrung Secret Ponchos for me though.
Firstly Manual Reloading; When you run out of bullets you have to press square to reload, in most games you will reload automatically but not here. The Killer has a 6 shooter, in a frenetic firefight those 6 shots go very quickly and having to manually reload leaves you vulnerable if you do not react quickly enough.
Secondly Speed; the game feels sluggish, running and dodging are well executed but feel laboured and unresponsive.
Thirdly No one to Play With; there was very little fanfare about Secret Ponchos. I had no idea it was coming until the week before it launched on PS Plus and there seemed to be no social media promotion of it at all. As a result there are very few people playing it. I had to wait a week before I could record the video below due to lack of players and I edited out about 40 minutes of waiting for matches. Not good for an online only experience.
Finally Only 2 Vs 2; The team matches are restricted to only a maximum of 2 vs 2. I was expecting at least double that. The Free for All mode supports 8 players battling it out so we know it can handle 8, so why no 4 vs 4. A strange omission and one that makes the maps feel very sparse for Death-match and Domination.
A Real Shame
This is a shame because it is a fun game with a nice level of challenge, it also allows you to have a mate pick up a controller and split screen the various modes with other online players. Secret Ponchos is a nice idea but limited options and a lack or players will sadly see this title sink into oblivion unless something is done to raise its awareness soon.
Mike Checks Out… Secret Ponchos