Wednesday, April 10

Review: Switch 'N' Shoot [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While in theory a game with greatly simplified controls is somehow taking the “easy way out”, in practice I’d say it just poses another challenge to the designer. How do you set the gameplay up in such a way that the simple controls don’t either oversimplify the experience and make it dull or constantly serve as a point of frustration to the player, wishing the game just ditched that simple scheme and implemented something more robust? In particular I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical of a one-button scheme taking on the classic arcade shooter, which is what Switch ‘N’ Shoot takes aim on, but I’ll freely admit that once I got dialed in it proved to be quite addictive and fun.

The foundation of making a limited scheme work is setting up a solid base of rules, something Shoot nails down effectively. Every time you press the button you’ll not only shoot, but also change your direction between left and right. With the exception of the last phase of each stage where lethal walls are put in place you’re able to scroll off either side and wrap to the other. Power-ups aren’t just something you want to grab, they’re something you’ll need to grab both to progress to the next stage and to prevent being penalized. A missed power-up equals a reduction in your current firepower and if you miss too many you’ll find the oncoming aliens will slowly get tougher and tougher to keep at bay. Put this all together and you have a sound basis for a game that looks and feels like a classic but that has a smart set of rules that feel more modern.

In terms of the issues there’s aren’t really any I’d consider critical but are worth noting for anyone on the fence or curious about features. While the game plays well in docked mode I found that it was tougher to be dialed in and accurate hitting aliens when at the initial shot power level than on a smaller screen, it still is fine just easier to judge on a smaller screen. Handheld mode played horizontally obviously works better with regard to scale but the wasted space on the side makes everything quite small indeed. If ever there was a game that was made for the Flip Grip, this is the one, it plays brilliantly in TATE mode and really is the ideal way to play the game. Though there’s a local high score leaderboard there’s no global leaderboard to size your skills up on, which is a shame, but truly the challenge is seeing how far you can get. Wave 6 is a challenge to see, and surviving past it will take some perseverance and luck, no doubt.

Overall, Switch ‘N’ Shoot appears to have had a very focused vision for its design that was well-implemented. It’s simple but challenging, easy to pick up and put down but compelling in a “just one more run” sort of way. Throw in a look and style that would make it feel perfectly at home among the classics of the early arcade era (including freaking fantastic side art that nails the retro feel) and you have a solid budget retro arcade shooter that’s well worth checking out.

Score: 8

  • The one-button control scheme is smart and works well
  • No single run will ever take terribly long, making it a great option on the go
  • If you have a Flip Grip, this game is an outstanding match for it
  • Absolutely awesome vintage-style side art

  • No global leaderboards
  • Works fine in docked mode but shots are tougher to judge at that scale