Thursday, August 2

Review: Cycle 28 [Nintendo Switch eShop]

As a fan of classic arcade games and experiences that I can just jump into, enjoy, and then go do something else on paper Cycle 28 would appeal to me. There are signs of some classic inspirations like Asteroids in the style of play but aside from that it’s pretty well got its own thing going on. In terms of the action it’s pretty simple to describe. You’ll pilot your ship, always needing to take momentum into account, and work through waves of enemies, which range from fairly large all the way down to very small. Whenever you get a roll going, get your multiplier up, and have a pretty solid run you’ll tend to unlock a new upgrade that you can apply to your ship. Keep in mind you can only choose two at a time so you’ll need to experiment to find that suits you.

In an effort to go beyond the mere shooting it’s apparent that there’s a bit of a Groundhog Day-esque mystery going on, with your character caught in a perpetual cycle on the same day after each death. I suppose this could appeal to some people, but honestly it feels out of place and I would have preferred for the core gameplay to be more fleshed out and interesting. The story angle just seems tacked on.

In particular on the Switch handheld play is a plus, and for this sort of game playing on the go would seem to be great. Unfortunately, the scale of the smaller ships makes them tough to see well in handheld mode. They’re visible but once the action picks up and there’s a lot on screen everything gets quite muddled. This is true even at full size, with what ends up being swarms of blue and beige gnat’s flying around and shooting while you sometimes struggle to keep oriented with which direction you’re facing as the trail from you showing damage partially obscures your ship. Given the waves of these smaller ships that will shoot at you survival much more often feels like a function of luck than skill, their speed and tendency to sweep into the screen and hit you before you have much time to do anything to counter is pretty cheap, really.

Since I love arcade shooters it’s a bummer that there’s just something about the total package of Cycle 28 that doesn’t connect for me. The gameplay just feels too subject to chance and luck, and too much of the time when my ship would start smoking I really couldn’t even tell what had hit me. The fact that the Switch is hardly underrepresented in decent shooters as a whole makes this one difficult to recommend with much enthusiasm.

Score: 6

  • Has an old school arcade feel
  • Unlocked upgrades offer a variety of options
  • You may be intrigued by the Grounhog Day-esque story

  • Details can be difficult to make out well in handheld mode
  • In general as things get intense they also become visually muddled
  • Too many times you’ve been hit and aren’t positive by what