Friday, July 26

Mini Reviews: July 26th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Moving into a new phase with the site and trying to make better overall use of my time in terms of finding a balance I can no longer keep the pace doing full reviews. I’ll always post gameplay of the titles I get but while I don’t feel comfortable committing to lengthy write-ups for titles I do want to at least summarize my thoughts on them. So these are the quick summaries on my thoughts on games I’ve played, highlighting the ones that are stand-outs when appropriate.

Zombie Driver - It can be a bit of a challenge to rate games that have simply been around for a while when they arrive on Switch. Even for a title I’m familiar with, like Zombie Driver, that I enjoy since the magic of initial discovery is pretty far back in the rear view mirror it’s hard to get in touch with that old excitement. That said, within a few missions, hitting the streets in a classic top-down fashion, running over zombies, picking up power-ups, and blowing things to bits it’s pretty easy to get back into the groove. This isn’t a very complex or deep game by any means, it’s an arcade-y celebration of mindless violence, blowing stuff up, and power-sliding through hordes of undead walkers. If you are mindful of its limits and don’t waste time focusing on the fact that it shows its age in a few different ways it’s a budget-friendly means to letting off some steam with some fun.

Fantasy Strike - While I’m pretty enthusiastic, overall, about this new fighting game the first thing I’d say is that with its controls I’d consider it to absolutely be an acquired taste. Having played many fighting games over the years, first there are those classics with their own distinctive styles ala Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and their ilk. More recently, newer fighting games have instead tended towards sweeping movements and less complicated or character-specific moves, making them more accessible. Fantasy Strike is sort of in the middle in my mind, with more simplified controls that are accessible yet that somehow feel awkward to me nonetheless with a feel that’s different from even the other more simple titles out there. They’re not bad, they just take getting used to. There’s no doubt the game’s characters look fabulous, though their styles tend towards familiar in many regards. I’d like to recommend it whole-heartedly but I also can’t convince myself that it’s sure to appeal to as wide an audience as some other indie fighters on the system. I see this being a divisive title in the end, though I’d imagine its fans will be quite passionately in love with it since it does dare to be a bit different.

Automachef - Factory construction and automation games have been “a thing” and pretty popular in the PC space for quite some time now. So it was no surprise when Team 17 announced they’d be bringing Automachef to the Switch, hoping to capitalize on the lack of such a title on the platform. It’s presence is a bit of a mixed blessing though, definitely delivering on the methodical and somewhat addicting (for the right crowd) style of play but demonstrating the challenges of playing such a game on a console as well. Stating it plain and simple progress and success aren’t going to arrive quickly here, as even early on you’re going to need to pay careful attention to the tutorial, think things through, and experiment in order to put together the base machinery that will make your assembly line function properly but also efficiently. Probably the worst failing the game has though is that “debugging” things on your line that aren’t working as they should isn’t always as straightforward as it should be. When it comes to your automated machinery you’ll find the equipment can be quite picky about being placed in certain places and ways in relation to other parts, but while you can observe your line breaking down it isn’t always clear what the problem is, adding to the potential you’ll just burn out on it before you get into the groove. If, however, you don’t mind the quirks and “meticulous” is your middle name, this may be a home run for you.

Pawarumi - Among the genres that have become quite well represented on the Switch arcade-style shooters are most definitely holding their own. Showing a fair amount of technique in its design, aside from sporting a terrific overall look, Pawarumi on some level will allow you to just go old school and try to dodge and weave your way to survival but it’s also much more than that. As if trying to manage 2 states in the likes of Ikaruga weren’t complicated enough, Pawarumi instead gives you 3 to think about. Depending on the color of your enemies, changing which weapons you attack with (each with their own pattern, just to further complicate things) will give you a different result. Whether chewing through them more quickly, replenishing your shield, or building up your gauge being smart about your play in the heat of the moment can mean the difference between success and failure. Unfortunately, in the initial stage it also can make the experience a bit of a pain while you try to wrap your head around how it all works. If you're down for taking on complexity while you're dodging and weaving through enemy fire this may be a home run for you, but for me it got to the point where managing 3 types of fire was just too much overhead that kept me from enjoying the game's great visuals and simply staying alive.

Gunpowder on the Teeth: Arcade - OK, so going the retro route to make modern games that capture the look and essence of playing games on platforms like the Gameboy is a thing. I get that. When you first start up Gunpowder on the Teeth it just feels like a classic run and gun with a washed out all-grey color palette. Maybe it’s not a look for everyone, but if you don’t mind it the action can still deliver some fun. But then you start dying for reasons that can be highly frustrating and/or annoying. You see, with the limitations of the available colors there are times where it is damned hard to see enemies, see their bullets, see barbed wire that will cut you up if you hit it wrong… and that gets irritating. Sure, you can understand where things are and what to do through sheer repetition but that feels like an extremely sloppy problem to have, and for me it really brings the game down a notch.