Friday, April 5

Review: Snow Battle Princess Sayuki [Nintendo Switch eShop]

One of the more difficult types of games for me to review are ones where I can understand the gameplay but not necessarily what’s going on. That’s not to necessarily mean the game’s narrative, I’m an old school arcade fan, great gameplay doesn’t need it. I’m talking about trying to understand what the developers specifically had in mind, what their target audience was, and what they wanted the game experience to be. In the case of Snow Battle Princess Sayuki I can tell you that for the most part it’s a shooter of sorts, but from there it gets a little tougher to size up well.

You’ll play as the title character Sayuki, and your ultimate goal is to travel to 8 different worlds to gather key items, or something like that. The main hook seems to be the game’s look, specifically with regards to its unusual yokai monster enemies which do absolutely look unique. As you move through the stages you’ll see presents that you can shoot and that will reveal crystals that can power you up to a point and allow you to change between different modes of fire, including a straight rapid-fire, 3-way split shot, bomb, and a homing shot. Aside from your primary mode of fire you have the ability to dodge roll as a snowball, and can use either a blizzard or a more powerful icy rabbit attack in a pinch as needed. If you have a friend who is down for some action you can also take on the game together, which is nice.

However, if you take the game’s unique look and charms off the table and reduce it to the core gameplay there’s no mistaking that there’s simply not a whole lot to get excited about. The game can be a little challenging (or maybe better said, cheap), though I’d argue mostly due to your field of view which is only a square that’s a portion of your screen and a tendency for enemies to jump out of hiding places. Finding your way around through the flow can be tricky at times, as there are quite a number of places to the side to explore, though aside from an odd opportunity to change your firing mode it’s hard to say there’s much of a reward. The game does track combos and points but it isn’t a score-chasing game since it doesn’t even store a local leaderboard. Even with the game’s overall length it’s played as an arcade experience with no save points so you’re meant to complete it continuously.

While there’s no doubt the game has a visual style all its own, and that’s quirky and kind of cool, there’s no mistaking the multiple problems it has. Without much help or direction it just kind of throws you into things, you stumble through and figure things out as you go, you kill things, you die… and that’s about it. Weirdly it doesn’t seem like a game for shooting fans in particular but that leaves me not entirely sure who it’s for. If you’re down with the game’s art and style perhaps you could enjoy yourself a bit with it, but be warned it’s a game with some real issues on Switch.

Score: 5

  • Unique monsters
  • A style all its own
  • Can be played with a friend

  • Even in handheld mode the game has a restricted square of view, and that includes wasted space both vertically and horizontally
  • It tracks your score but does nothing with it ultimately
  • No checkpoints or save points, must be played continuously