SpongeBob has an episode where he takes a driving test at Mrs Puff’s Boating School, completing a deadly dangerous obstacle course that combines loops, sharp turns and brick walls – you sock at parking is the one that dials up to 11. Is. Imagine that course with homing missiles, icy tarmac, swinging pendulums, laser Walls, and angry drivers. As long as the music repeats that insult, “You suck in the parking lot”, is really driving it home.
The premise is very simple: park your car in different places while avoiding obstacles. But you can’t reverse or stop, you have limited fuel, and a timer. You’re going to be doing a lot, but it takes a great job of easing into these mechanics before kicking up to the highest gear.
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It starts slow and easy, which is more than can be said for my first few driving lessons, where I had a chain-smoker take me on a one-way 60 mph road. I could not even apply the brakes without stopping. You sock at parking no Dave – let’s call him Dave – it gives you quiet streets, plenty of time, and some easy places to hit. The next few levels include winding roads, sharp turns, rocks and other environmental hazards. You get a decent feel for the handling of the car, which is buttery smooth, even better than some triple-A titles in recent years. Nothing in Just Cause or Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing sucks you into the parking lot. Then dham! You have magnets that pull you off-road, giant wipeout-like fists that punch you, and red walls that burn down your car.
The difficulty keeps on increasing, but it never gets stale or repetitive. there’s always something new To learn and master, which is shocking how quickly this difficulty adds up. At one point, you get sucked into the parking lot, even becoming a bullet hell with totems igniting red orbs that kill you immediately upon contact. You have to avoid them while placing the mines in the house. So the wipeout-fist in the beginning may seem too tempting for you to move on. And while it can be a bit of a controller-smashing headache, I can’t help but want to keep going because starting isn’t tedious—you can react to the press of a button or wade through menus throughout levels. All without losing load or life. It’s difficult but fair, and at any time, you can step back and find another set of levels in the overworld.
You sock at the parking level has a Mario-like structure. There are themed centers spread across small islands and you can unlock more islands by earning parking lots. So if any level proves too difficult, you can always go ahead and try another, or backpedal to the first one which may seem easier now in comparison. There’s a freedom in its design that encourages exploration and trial and error rather than the tedious linearity that keeps you at dead ends. To get back to Dave – let’s keep calling him Dave – it’s a lot like I kept swapping driving instructors. There is always another option.
but those islands are a pain to navigate. You don’t have a map and the same rules apply as they do in the overworld – you can’t reverse. So if you hit a wall, you’ll have to respawn your car, all while trying to move forward with the game. There is a lot of esotericism in the presentation which is especially prevalent in the levels themselves. You can watch the entire level from above before you start, but once you move on, that’s it. If you forget where the parking lot is or get confused by the layout, you have no means of looking at it without looking back, erasing any progress. It makes trial and error feel less fair, especially if you’re like me and you have terrible short-term memory.
You Suck at Parking also lacks identity – the basic premise is a retro obstacle course with an old school 2D GTA feel, but the cars are generic and the billboards are just the game’s logo. Outside of the name, it has little to do with it in terms of humor or identity, such as with a friend. One The joke they just won’t let go. Throw in Battle Pass and silly, but ultimately messy and unrelated cosmetics, and you have another uncharacteristic multiplayer game that will mess around with others. It’s a shame because the foundation is so strong and the gameplay loop so enticing, but the aesthetic is clean, minimal, and corporate.
I had a lot of fun with the U sock in the parking lot, something I could do for the night and play with a friend while trying to move the controller back and forth and when we inevitably failed, a They used to mix each other with each other. It has that communal spirit, especially with its leaderboards, that will undoubtedly inspire people to try and perfect its Deathron-like level design. I can’t wait to see what community pops up around it, but, unfortunately, I don’t think You Suck at Parking has created enough recognition to leave a lasting impression.
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