Thursday, January 16

Mini Reviews: January 16th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Super Crush KO [Nindie Choice!] - Early in the Switch lifespan, when the pickings were sometimes a bit more thin, there were some core Nindie titles that helped occupy my time. Among my favorites was the very distinct high-score-chasing space shooter Graceful Explosion Machine which encouraged repeated play as I’d try to get top ranks and a few rungs higher on the leaderboards for every stage. Who knew the same core concepts of multiple attack styles, a sense of flair, and a scoring system that pushes you to keep changing things up would work so well in a beat-em-up? Apparently the folks at Vertex Pop did! Very similarly to GEM I love the flow of things, and how you need to continually improvise not only to keep out of harm’s way but also in order to chain more and more attacks into your combo. It can be almost meditative when you’re in the zone, dodging, dashing through bullets, throwing uppercuts, and even shooting. In terms of raw stages, much like GEM there aren’t a ton to get through, but the joy here is in revisiting and climbing the online leaderboards, and for that this game crushes it.

THOTH - When it comes to shooters minimalist looks can work nicely, but with quite a number of budget shooters already in that vein on Switch it can be hard to make an impression. While THOTH may not do a great job of getting you up to speed or easing you into things, once you get over your initial confusion you’ll find it offers an interesting mix of twin stick shooting and an almost puzzle-like feel. Every few levels new ideas or elements will be introduced that you’ll then need to contend with while destroying enemy blocks, clearing the stage and moving you on. While it isn’t a terribly long game for the price it seems fair and if you’ve been looking for a shooter that keeps you on your toes this is a solid choice.

Super Mega Space Blaster - On paper this is a title that should be a slam dunk for me. A retro-feeling space shooter with elements of Asteroids and others, offering up a variety of modes and ships that change things up and provide for variety and hopefully longevity. While I repeatedly returned to it, hoping the next unlock would help suddenly make it all come together for me it just never quite got there. Weirdly, I think the bones for a great shooter are there, just there are some unusual choices made in implementation that I’m not so much a fan of. Bullet scarcity, no temporary invulnerability when you get hit, movement (in some modes forced) that doesn’t quite feel right, the need to grind to unlock elements you’re hoping will make it work for you but may not… it’s aggravatingly on the edge of working. While I have no doubt some shooter fans looking for something that stands apart and can sort of be custom catered to your own style will enjoy this one in an eShop flush with terrific shooters of all kinds I find this one tough to recommend with enthusiasm.

140 - Minimalist platformers can be fun on a budget, no doubt, but their wide availability on the Switch as well as down to even mobile devices makes them a challenge to get attention with. 140 just sort of throws you into things and lets you figure it out, though thankfully it doesn’t take too much effort or trial and error in general. If it weren’t for the use of the music and some rhythm in helping you time your critical jumps onto shifting and/or disappearing platforms I think the experience would have been more ordinary. If you’re looking for a game to play on the cheap with a great soundtrack that you’ll need to listen to carefully at times to help you make your way through some solid (though perhaps not terribly inspired) action puzzles, 140 isn’t amazing but it seems to have accomplished what it set out to do.

Drunk-Fu: Wasted Masters - When it comes to budget-friendly multiplayer gaming the Switch has quite an assortment of options. Since many of them are somewhat ho-hum shooters of various kinds I’m always a bit more excited to check out any titles offering up something a little different. Putting together brawler elements and ragdoll physics in an unlikely pairing we have Drunk-Fu: Wasted Masters. This is one of those games where criticizing the controls is tricky, the loose and funky nature of them is “part of the fun”, but while you can certainly throw down the ultimately limited moveset does tend to get people falling into patterns that work pretty quickly. With that in mind unless you manage to find someone online to play with or have friends who like to get together, laugh, and maybe have a few drinks to lower your expectations the longevity of Drunk-Fu will likely be pretty limited for most people.