Friday, July 31

Mini Reviews: July 31st Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Dodo Peak [Nindie Choice!] - There’s nothing I enjoy more with indies than games that defy expectation. At first glance Dodo Peak looks like a pretty straight-forward action puzzle game that’s just going to be cute and somewhat benign. Oh, but how deceptive it is. While not everyone may be as much of an arcade nerd as I am what I appreciate the most about the game is its mix of elements from a few different games. While everyone I’ve seen has been keen to mention Q*Bert, which you can absolutely see bits of, the deep cut here is a less-known game called Flicky. The fact that the eggs you collect trail you and you’ll need to be mindful of them (even as there get to be more and more of them) when they’re in danger really cranks up the challenge and planning that will be required. You can’t just squeak yourself through a tough spot, you’ll need every member of your brood in tow to make it as well so that’s where planning will need to come in as well. While in the early going your ideal route is relatively simple, and possibly even outright dictated, the further you go the more things open up and you’ll need to contemplate how best to proceed. While it is by no means a massive game the budget price, polished presentation, and mix of multiple arcade classics as well as modern sensibilities really make it stand out from the crowd in the eShop.


Kingdom Rush [Nindie Choice!] - While one of the sequels in the series has already been released on the system (Frontiers), the OG Kingdom Rush has now arrived on the Switch. For the uninitiated, this is really what I’d consider to be one of the best examples of great games to emerge from mobile platforms, pretty well defining how to make an engaging tower defense game that’s smart, challenging, and even throws in some humor. The stages are generally well-designed, the enemy units you’ll face are varied, and you’ll be pushed to develop strategies to address specific units and bosses that will show up on some levels, forcing you to often abandon your well-worn default plans or at least play enough to upgrade those tower types so they’ll be more effective. While I’d still consider touchscreen play to be your best bet, the console controls in docked mode are still generally effective, just when things get tense you may struggle to highlight the proper spot at times. For the budget price this game delivers a truckload of great content that’s battle-worn and has been refined over time, making it an easy choice for strategy fans if you’ve not already picked it up on other platforms already.


Fairy Tail - It’s always both fascinating and a bit head scratch-inducing for me to play titles based on existing anime properties. Especially with its tendency towards visual flair, wild personalities, and pretty obvious depth of lore being thrown around even in the early stages of this JRPG newcomers are likely to feel a bit lost if understanding what’s going on is the goal. However, if you’re either an existing fan or simply go limp and determine yourself to enjoy the ride Fairy Tale delivers pretty handsomely in terms of action and excitement. Battles have a very cinematic quality, helping to liven up what for me can too often get to be a chore over time. While it doesn’t have a heavy tactics edge to it there is definitely an element of strategy in how you approach combat, develop your characters, and refine your party… so it should please people looking for some depth while not overwhelming those who are just in it for some fun. Overall, the experience is quite polished and shows a lot of care, just depending on your exposure to the anime or openness to just running with all of the craziness you may or may not find it’s for you.


Lost Wing - Feeling somewhere between a racing game and an endless runner, Lost Wing is at least unique. Your objective is to race through corridors, avoid obstacles and traps, try to keep things together when the game decides you’ve been doing too well and turns everything upside down, and make it to the finish line. Success will bring you access to some different craft and cosmetics but mostly new tracks and variant challenges that do tweak what you’ll specifically be focused on, but generally maintaining an emphasis on speed and your ability to jump, dodge, and weave your way to victory. If you’re a fan of arcade-like challenges that will keep pushing you to persevere in the face of repeated failures you may find the experience to your liking, but if you were thinking this would either be a racer ala WipeOut or one of its contemporaries you will likely be sorely disappointed.


Tiny Racer - If someone to ask which genre on the Switch has been plagued with the most misfires and general mediocrity I’d unfortunately need to say it is racers. Sure, there are some highpoints like Mario Kart and even a few indies that are notable like Horizon Chase Turbo, but there are many piled up to the side of the road in a broken heap of lackluster play. While fans of the old Micro Machines titles may have had their hopes up for Tiny Racer capturing some of that same spirit I’m here to bring the bad news that it comes up substantially short of that mark. Plagued by loose controls, uninspired play, and an inexplicable lack of support for Pro Controllers (at this point in the system’s lifecycle that’s very unusual) Tiny Racer does allow you to race around some tracks against other vehicles but there’s just not much to love anywhere to be found.