No, I didn’t know what an Aeolis is, either. The only Google hit is for an area of Ancient Greece, but I don’t think that’s the vibe that Aeolis Tournament is going for. I certainly don’t remember any anthropomorphic foxes with vacuum cleaners as part of my history studies. So I reached out to the developer to ask the question:
“Aeolian island is a volcanic archipelago in Italy named after the demigod of the winds Aeolus. We thought it was a clever and unique name, as our main mechanic is basically wind and most of the games take place on different themed islands.” So there you have it!
Name notwithstanding, Aeolis Tournament is a competitive party game from new developer Beyond Fun Studio. The aforementioned walking animals make up a cast of colorful characters that can be played in up to eight-player battles across a series of party mini-games. It’s all a bit Bomberman meets Gang Beasts by way of Super Smash Bros. but with a heavy emphasis on sucking. With your vacuum cleaners, I mean.
The fundamental element that pins all six of Aeolis Tournament’s game modes together is the collection of hoovers that each player carries. Holding a button on a control pad sucks in air, and releasing blows that air back out again as a blast. This allows players to suck in certain small objects or push away others — or other players, for that matter. The only other action is movement, making the game simple to learn for even the youngest player whilst rewarding for someone able to master the element of “right place, right time.” This simplicity is a boon for a game like this, where friends around for an evening of party games won’t want to learn complex control schemes and systems.
Like any good couch-based party game, the action is frantic, colorful, and intense. It creates many moments for yelling in joy or frustration, particularly at especially sly moves from your fellow players. Aeolis Tournament is a game perfectly designed to cause family arguments or (mostly-) temporary friendship rifts. The mileage varies across the six game modes, which can either be played singularly in Quick Play or in a points-based Tournament, which lets you play anything from three to eight games in succession. Games take place in free-for-all or team-based varieties, but players are scored on individual successes throughout, meaning that even during team games, it is essential to be active and competitive if you want to finish in first place.
The simplest of the game modes is The Perfect Storm, which sees players attempting to knock each other off an island into water using vacuum blasts. Each successful knock-off scores points, with each triumph creating a combo multiplier for future dunkings. All game modes come with power-ups strewn around the map that affect play, including speeding you up or increasing the range on your vacuum. Knocking players off platforms is a recurring theme, and in Explosive Dodgeball this is achieved by lobbing bombs and scenery over a line. Timing the bombs perfectly leads to exploding the opposing team off the side of the platform to score points, whilst hitting your enemies (oops, friends) with a direct hit will stun them for a moment. In Explosive Dodgeball, rescuing your teammate in dangerous situations is as important to winning as attacking your opponents.
Marble Thief plays like a vacuum-based game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos, with players lobbying to get marbles of varying sizes and values into their own hole. This means using the blasts of air to push the marbles around whilst also playing defense when your opponents try to snag a significant prize.
Aeolis Tournament is at its best with these platform-based modes. The push/pull vacuum mechanic is excellent for letting players manipulate the environment and their opponents, and there is definite skill and cooperation needed to both survive and score points in these modes. The Snowball Battle mode, unfortunately, is less interesting as it sees players suck up snowballs strewn around a map to throw at other players. Each hit scores points, with bigger snowballs earning bigger prizes. This mode quickly becomes samey and is the weakest of Aeolis Tournament’s offerings. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there is no way to customize a tournament to only include the modes you want to play. This means no option for removing a disfavored play mode from the tournament set-up.
This also feels relevant to the last of the two games modes, Air Hockey and Sportsball. These play out like their real world counterparts, with a net at each end and teams aiming to score into their opponent’s goal. Sadly, the two modes play almost identically, with the key difference being that Air Hockey is played exclusively with a puck and takes place on a slippery surface (similar to the ice found in Snowball Battle), with quick maneuvering being managed using the backwards thrust from blowing your Dysons. Sportsball foregoes the sliding but has a randomly-selected object to score with — either a soccer ball, a rugby ball, a tennis ball, a puck, a volleyball, or a beach ball. Each ball reacts differently with its physics, with the rugby ball bouncing off in strange directions, the beach ball floating upwards at the slightest touch, etc. Neither mode is bad, per se, but it doesn’t feel like the game needs both in its Tournament rotation, and it’s a shame that players can’t simply pick their favorite or customize their choice of ball and surface.
If Aeolis Tournament falls down anywhere, it is in the lack of game modes and maps (each mode has only the one map associated with it). A couple of hours with the game will quickly tire each of the six modes out, and the lack of additional variety or customization options on rules means it doesn’t hold up well with too much successive play (there is a toggle-able “Chaos Mode” that adds environmental hazards to maps, such as thunder strikes and meteors. I generally toggled this on and left it there for the duration).
The game does have a small amount of progression in the form of its cosmetics. The playable character, which range from male and female children to cats, wolves, rabbits and a giant, walking shark, can be customized with colors and costume props. In-game currency is earned for achieving certain criteria, and this is spent to unlock further color options and new items, including hats, clothes, eye-patches and more.
For the most part, you won’t focus on these things when you’re playing Aeolis Tournament. The game is best enjoyed as a time-killer with friends and family, and the limitations of its game modes means it’s probably best enjoyed alongside other party games in a session. I would recommend playing with an even number of players where possible as the AI that can fill any gaps doesn’t really hold up its end of the bargain in team-based modes. It’s there though and capable enough for just making up the numbers.
For a few hours, Aeolis Tournament is a lot of fun. For me, personally, it holds the distinction of being the first game that my six-year old niece has ever independently sat down to watch me play and then asked for a turn. Here the AI filled in perfectly as an able opponent to a younger player. It speaks volumes to the accessibility and vibrancy of Aeolis Tournament that she was able to sit and play for an hour on the different game modes without many struggles with controls or rules.
There is plenty of room for Aeolis Tournament to grow if Beyond Fun Studio want to put in the time to develop further, to include new modes, maps, cosmetics, and customizable rule options. However, in its current form, it remains a fun few hours of couch-based mayhem that can be enjoyed with friends or family of all ages — and is comfortably worth the £11/$12 asking price for the time spent with it.
Developer: Beyond Fun Studio
Publisher: Beyond Fun Studio
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 16th July 2020 (PC), 23rd July 2020 (Nintendo Switch)
If you like this, also check out our review of Aqua Lungers, another chaotic party game that features deep sea divers fighting over hordes of treasure.
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Aeolis Tournament was provided by the publisher.