Yono Is the Cutest Game on the Nintendo Switch—and It's Fun, Too

Yono and the Celestial Elephants may feature the cutest hero on the Nintendo Switch—and the game is pretty fun, too.

It stars Yono, an absurdly charming elephant with a huge head and ears and a tiny body, who's sent down to earth to make people happy. The people of this land worship elephants, so many are glad to hear him out.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants monks and elephant statues

(via Neckbolt)

It's up to the player to make that happen by controlling Yono through the world, and his movements are pretty simple. Yono can walk around, but not jump or climb anything. He can do a charging tackle to hit switches or take down enemies, and he can blow air from his trunk to blow dandelions or piles of leaves. His trunk can also suck up certain things to be spit back out.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants blowing dandelions

(via Neckbolt)

The gameplay in Yono is all about solving small puzzles and completing fetch quests for the folks you meet along the way. Some are regular people, but there are also the misunderstood undead inhabitants of the Sundergarden and the robotic Mekani. While some live in harmony, others are distrustful of those who are not like them. As you speak to them, you'll discover that not all is well in this world. The game may seem a little frivolous on the surface, but you'll soon discover that it's not afraid to touch on deeper concepts.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants queen distrust

(via Neckbolt)

If you've ever played a Legend of Zelda game, you'll be familiar with most of the puzzle-solving techniques needed to make your way through the game. Many involve mazes of crates or sliding ice blocks that must depress a switch for you grab a key or advance to the next area. Sometimes, switches will make a room behave in a new way that will let you solve small pieces of the puzzle.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants finding key

(via Neckbolt)

Things start getting more interesting when Yono starts scooping things up in his trunk. He can suck up some water for dousing flames or turning waterwheels or grab some peanuts that can be shot as projectiles toward enemies or obstacles. Hot peppers also allow Yono to shoot fire from his long nose. Each of these abilities is critical to solving the game's puzzles, and sometimes they all come together in one room. That definitely requires some critical thinking.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants extinguish fire

(via Neckbolt)

While the first half of the game teaches you the basics by making you traverse through cave and forest puzzles, the second half is where it really picks up. This is when you start exploring large areas reminiscent of Zelda dungeons. These segments are mostly linear and the puzzles are generally confined to a single room, but they greatly speed up the pace of the game and raise the stakes. They consist of puzzle after puzzle, and each has a unique boss that requires you to use Yono's unique skills to their fullest.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants skeleton boss

(via Neckbolt)

Each dungeon also has its own theme. The first is a spooky underground tomb shrouded in darkness. The second is mechanical factory guarded by a giant mechanical dog, and the last is a castle dungeon full of black and white chess pieces.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants robot dungeon

(via Neckbolt)

As you progress through the game, it's always easy to return to previously explored areas, since fast travel train tracks connect the world. You'll want to do this frequently, if only to see Yono zip across the screen in a cute little minecart.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants minecarft

(via Neckbolt)

You'll also be collecting currency throughout the game in the form of special coins. Their only purpose is to exchange for new skins for Yono, but they're totally worth collecting. Yono's already too cute, but these new styles somehow make him even more precious. Every town has its own shop where Yono can get new looks, so it's worth viewing them all.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants custom skins

(via Neckbolt)

Once you talk to the Loremaster in the monastery full of elephant-worshipping monks, you'll also start collecting letters. Nab enough and return to him to piece together the in-depth folklore behind the game. There's a lot to read here, and if you're captivated by the game, you'll want to unlock all three books.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants loremaster book

(via Neckbolt)

The pace of Yono might not be for everyone. The character can feel very slow at times, making bigger puzzles a little tedious. Still, the game is a breezy finish and can easily be completed in fewer than five hours.

While the puzzle solving toward the beginning of the game is occasionally simplistic, they gradually ramp up in difficulty until they become extremely satisfying to solve. They actually require a little brainpower, and you can expect to be entirely stumped once or twice during your journey.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants hedgehog

(via Neckbolt)

Though the game may have a cutesy aesthetic, some of the ideas are anything but. The game frequently questions absolute authority and the concept of ownership, revealing the good and bad natures of people.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants jar wisdom

(via Neckbolt)

That said, the controls in this game are not perfect. For whatever reason, even toward the end of the game we were mixing up the buttons for blowing vs. charging, and the game's contextual button does too much. A single button lets Yono talk to people and read signs and interact with levers and pick up small objects and throw them. The last face button simply highlights items that can be interacted with, and it would have been nice if some of the functions of the former button could have mapped to this one instead. It's fully possible to attempt to talk to someone in this game and instead throw a valuable item right off the cliff behind them.

But these things aren't enough to mar an otherwise fun and beautifully sweet game. Yono never stops being adorable, particularly with the trumpet sounds he makes with the actions of his trunk. It's available for $14.99 in the Nintendo eShop.


To find out more about another of our favorite new titles on the Switch, click HERE to read our review of Golf Story.