With the survival game on the red planet, the developer Atomicom wanted to show a possible future home for people. Because that is exactly our mission, we should build up on Mars so far that it can be colonized. Of course, it is primarily about the basic construction, but other aspects also play a major role in the sandbox survival game. In this article I will try to explain to you whether the developer succeeded in this plan.

The future of humanity is in our hands

We arrived in the year 2067 and have volunteered to go on a mission to Mars. At least that's what the tutorial says, which you should definitely go through before playing for free. Of course, not everything went as expected. In the beginning we are all alone on the long ground and first have to find our way around on our own. Of course, our protective suit helps us first, at least in some environmental conditions. Because it quickly becomes clear that Mars is not the most life-friendly environment and lava sources, which also like to bring some lava to the surface, are not uncommon. So it is first of all to avoid the lava and to find a safe and faster means of transport as quickly as possible. Fortunately, we quickly found a Mars rover and can make our way to the small base, which is already available as a basis for us. But the way to the base with the Mars rover is also difficult, because sandstorms and storms also cause problems for the vehicle, no matter how adapted it is.

Review of JCB Pioneer: Mars - Nintendo Switch Version
The start turns out to be bumpy, but a vehicle is already ready.

When we arrive at the base, we first see various terminals which are equipped with different functions. For example, we can control the basic expansion via one and access the crafting menu via another. The first missions already show the harsh environmental conditions on the red planet, right at the beginning some parts of the base have to be repaired. A repair tool was made available to us right from the start. With this it is then possible for us to fill small holes, for this we always need new magazines for the weapon, but these are numerous at the beginning. But our survival must also be ensured, with the help of oxygen, drink and food, remedial measures can then be found quickly. You also have enough of these resources at the beginning and can stuff your pockets with them. But be careful, there must be space for other things in the pockets.

Exploration and "farming" are not missing

As with every survival game, collecting new resources is of course important in addition to basic building and survival. Even if we are very well equipped at the beginning, after a short time you need more materials to get further. The tutorial with missions helps us at the beginning, so you can explore caves with huge lava lakes or find scrap on the surface to take away. The developer even promises in the further course of the game that you will uncover various information and secrets and thus expand your knowledge. If you then want to mine resources yourself, you naturally need the right vehicle for it.

The cave with the lava lakes looks very impressive. But beware of the dangers involved.
The cave with the lava lakes looks very impressive. But beware of the dangers involved.

Our initial Mars rover doesn't get us quite that far. So it's about collecting resources in order to then construct new vehicles and thus also get hard-to-reach resources. Another big point is exploration, because without research it becomes difficult to build anything or incorporate new technology. Because technologies are an important part of the game, so we have a scanner in our suit at the beginning and in a somewhat more advanced form in the vehicle. This shows us important points on the map, whether they are interesting places or resources to mine.

Realistic vehicles and conditions

As mentioned in the title, Atomicon worked with JCB to develop the game, and for a very special reason. Real JCB engineers designed the vehicles. This means that they are realistic and can really be used on Mars in reality.

With the vehicle, the path can at least be overcome in a shorter time. Even if it doesn't protect you from all environmental conditions. "

A realistic representation of Mars and its environment was apparently important to the developer, because it is stated that everything has been scientifically proven and the player really gets a realistic representation of Mars. So there is also a learning effect. Whether that is the surface or the landscape or the rugged weather conditions.

The problem with the graphics

Of course, you shouldn't expect a graphic masterpiece even with the Nintendo Switch version of JCB Pioneer: Mars. As with the article on the switch version of ARK, this is sometimes due to the hardware. If you are a graphics fanatic after all, you would also have the opportunity to play the game on your PC. But if you need a survival game for a portable device, you can't go wrong with JCB Pioneer: Mars. In contrast to ARK, I see a significantly better price-performance ratio at JCB Pioneer: Mars. But more on that in the conclusion.

Graphically not a masterpiece, but that's also due to the hardware.

Media on JCB Pioneer Mars


Number of players: 1 (online)
Age: USK from 0 years
Playing time: 100+ hours
Difficulty: easy to medium
Long-term motivation: medium to high

Publisher: GamesCo
Developer: Atomicom
Year of publication: 2018 
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Language: multilingual
Cost: 22,19 Euro


JCB Pioneer: Mars is a good survival game for the portable device. You just have everything you need. A realistic representation of the world and the vehicles, aspects of survival and the classic basic construction. Then there is the exploration and the gathering of resources. All in all, with JCB Pioneer: Mars, we have a good sandbox survival game.

To get started, however, it is really advisable to play the tutorial first, otherwise you will quickly be overwhelmed by the abundance of options and not know exactly where to start. I have already said everything about the graphics, as I mentioned earlier for a portable game, I find this completely sufficient. The sound is also okay and mixed well. Since the game can also be played in multiplayer, it is also fun to play with friends, even if the additional service from Nintendo has to be booked for this. Now for the price-performance ratio, in contrast to ARK, the game is very cheap at 22,19 euros, I think the price is much more appropriate for the game than the Switch version of ARK for 54,99 euros. Finally, I would like to praise the scientific aspect and the cooperation with JCB the developer, because you also achieve a certain learning effect.