Every so often we need to work as a team at TheXboxHub, believe it or not. This can occasionally mean a few extra pairs of hands are needed to properly test a game out. Yet when the call goes out, our fear stricken hearts skip a beat, hoping that whatever we are being drawn into is worth it (I’m looking at you Dragon Ball: The Breakers). As I recruited a couple of colleagues to help me go hands on with my latest, it’s safe to say expectations were low.
Conceptually, Fueled Up is nothing new. It falls into the tried and tested couch co-op category where you are required to manage the environment to stop all hell breaking loose. Overcooked! is often referred to as the benchmark for this format, and will also probably make most of you shudder at the mere mention of it. The arguments that game caused…
Anyhow, you may be glad to hear that Fueled Up is aimed at a younger audience so it isn’t quite as complex as other games of this ilk. Your role, as a spaceship engineer, is to safely guide your vessel through a variety of hazards and dangers.
Your main aim is to keep the ship moving by creating fuel and feeding it to the engine. This is because you are being constantly pursued by an evil space octopus and its army of squid (because, of course). You’ll see not only your progress, but how far behind the nasties are in the top corner of your screen. If they catch up to you it’s all over.
It’s also important to keep moving because this is how you will achieve your highest score, and three stars. If you remain stationary, then you’ll slowly begin to bleed points. Each mission also has a couple of bonus challenges for you to try out too, which try to draw you back to play again.
There are a decent amount of levels on offer in Fueled Up which you can access through the world map. As you play, your guide Luna will introduce new tasks and hazards to be aware of, such as rotating platforms, exploding asteroids and leaky pipes. Luna looks almost gleeful as you’re told about how each world is more deadly than the last, which is somewhat unsettling.
Rather than venturing through different worlds, strings of levels will gradually reveal themselves as you play. In the world map you can bounce off planets and glide through boosters as you travel from one to the next. The gameplay slowly builds in complexity, until the final sequence of levels throws you all sorts of different crises to deal with. It never gets hard, but remains good fun to play throughout the campaign.
You may think the worst after your first attempt, but give it another shot or two and you’ll have cracked your strategy in no time, and likely cruise to a 3 star score. In fact you’ll very rarely get caught by the evil octopus and its gang once you’re used to how Fueled Up works.
The frantic action ticks along backed by a cheesy but surprisingly enjoyable soundtrack. But it’s the visuals that are the most pleasing. They are well animated, colourful and bursting with character. Talking of characters, you start off with plenty of little avatars to choose from and unlock more as you play. I had a lot of fun with the space kitties, but one avatar looked like the coronavirus and I can’t figure out if it’s on purpose or not.
It is possible to play Fueled Up solo and it works pretty well too. Switching between two engineers is the way it’s done, and hitting X will set tasks to autocomplete to make things a little more manageable. However, the most fun is to be had when you get together with some friends.
If it’s just you and your bestie, you can use one controller to play and swap between the two of you. The best way to play is with three or four players however, because although it sounds easier, you’ll all be scrabbling around trying to figure out the best order in which to tackle things. Giving it a go on your first run is always tempting, but before long it’ll become clear you’ll need to assign roles.
If you don’t then there’s a real risk of you completely losing hull integrity (and your ship exploding) or running out of fuel and getting captured. However, even when organised you’ll continually be blocking each other’s movements as some levels feel too claustrophobic. You’ll also sometimes struggle to locate the item you need in the heat of the moment. Thankfully then, hitting LB will highlight everything you can interact with.
Despite the niggles, co-op is where Fueled Up shines, providing laughs as your little avatar gets sucked out of an airlock as the battery runs flat, or takes a tumble into the goo as your teammate spins the bridge at the worst possible time. Those who I coerced to play were feeling very pessimistic, but ended up enjoying themselves.
Fueled Up may not be the most comprehensive experience, but on the whole it’s a great little co-op game that’s accessible to all.
Fueled Up is on the Xbox Store