In ancient times, those who wielded the trombone gained admiration, respect, and power in their battle against the forces of evil. These tromboners, once guided by the baboons, have long since passed into legend. However, stories tell of a coming tromboner who will surpass all others and finally end the eternal conflict between light and dark: the Trombone Champ. To become the Trombone Champ and fulfill your destiny, you. Must. Toot!
We don’t really get comedy games anymore, and back when we did their quality varied wildly. You had gems that stood the test of time like Monkey Island, and other games that were quickly forgotten like Microshaft Winblows ‘95. Monkey Island still has loads to discover even after hearing everyone under the sun talk about it, but I feel reviewing Trombone Champ is a bit like explaining the joke. Just look at it for a few seconds and you immediately get it. So I’m not going to tell you why Trombone Champ is funny, just that it is and it’s even funnier with friends. So let’s get into how it looks, plays, and sounds.
While the PC version released last year, the Switch version of Trombone Champ contains all the songs added as patches right off the bat for a total of 50 songs, most of which are from the public domain. After picking a song, tromboner, and other options, you need to actually play the song. You do this by moving a cursor up and down and pressing the trigger to play. The Switch version has four different ways to play, some more useful than others. You can simply use the sticks, or use two different kinds of tilt controls and even the IR Sensor. With a pro controller, joy-cons, or in portable mode, you can tilt the device up and down to move the cursor. With a single joy-con, you can replicate the motion of playing a trombone by moving it out and in. Finally, using the IR Sensor and your hand you can do the same thing.
Unfortunately, none of these are ideal. The sticks method is too slow and any motion control tends to drift on Switch, even in the short time you’ll be playing a song. Every single time I played Trombone Champ, I had to deal with motion controls becoming unaligned which made getting S ranks even harder than it should be. This isn’t the game’s fault, every motion controlled Switch game suffers from this, but it’s annoyingly consistent here.
Still, with a good sense of humor, this drifting can only add to the hilarity. Playing along with my little brother, we had smiles on our faces the entire time – and he’s 17 so that’s a tough job. The trombone sounds are out of tune and low quality on purpose, the songs absurdly difficult to play by design, and the visuals colorful and Wii-like so you don’t take things seriously. I may have been disappointed by the public domain songs filling the roster initially, but they all have tricks up their sleeves that make them a delightful surprise.
Shockingly, Trombone Champ DOES have a story of sorts. I’ll leave it for you to discover, but the Baboons mode on the main menu can set you on the right path. Don’t forget to turn your Toots into card packs in the collection mode, where you can unlock pictures and facts about the likes of Mozart and Gustav Holst, who have the power of 3,500 and 0 hot dogs respectively. There’s also a decent suite of settings, allowing you to turn off jumpscares, bloom when entering CHAMP mode, disabling some difficult progression requirements, and aligning yourself with the Baboons. You can adjust the sensitivity of each control type too if you want more or less tilting.
David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.
Trombone Champ may suffer from the joy-con curse, but it’s still a laugh out loud good time with a surprising amount of secrets to find. You’re not supposed to be good at Trombone Champ, but playing with friends will make you feel like a master tromboner.