Tuesday, July 30

Mini Reviews: July 30th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Super Mega Baseball 2 [Nindie Choice!] - At long last a high-quality and very broadly accessible baseball title is available on the Switch. After the disappointment of the RBI Baseball series I was a bit down on things but since I was a big fan of the original Super Mega Baseball on PC when I heard the sequel was coming to Switch I was excited. Let’s be clear, if you’re first and foremost a fan of the major leagues and are looking to control real teams and players this game likely won’t do it for you as it lacks the license. What it delivers instead is rock-solid gameplay that quickly makes concerns over your team’s name or your favorite stars melt away though. What impresses me most here is that the game works reasonably well even if you’re a bit of a novice, with things like automatic fielding covering over some areas that aren’t always implemented well. That said, if you’re willing to invest your attention in fine tuning your hitting, pitching, or even going for a sliding catch at the right times you absolutely can apply some technique and get great results as well with a little bit of practice. Absolutely a terrific title for sports fans.

Songbird Symphony - If you’re on the look out for a title with a wholesome story, cute looks, a great soundtrack, and a mix of puzzle platforming and rhythm game elements you’ve really lucked out with Songbird Symphony since it manages to check all of those boxes. Perhaps somewhat predictably when a game attempts to bite off so many things at once the result can be that some areas suffer with some issues though. There’s a lot to like about the game, with an earnest charm and some variety, but the gameplay can meander in quality from good to ho-hum to a bit rough around the edges in places. In particular, the puzzle platforming never truly takes flight and the rhythm elements, though paired with some great music, have mechanically awkward controls and are a bit all over the place in terms of difficulty and even responsiveness. The positive is that you don’t appear to be penalized and unable to progress even when struggling with these segments but I wish they’d taken the time to refine them rather than allow you to move on even if you were a disaster on a given song.

Hoggy 2 - Cute, colorful, and surprisingly challenging at times, Hoggy 2 is a budget-friendly puzzle platformer with very basic controls and a bit of charm as well. There’s not much you need to understand at a fundamental level, on each of its 200+ stages you’ll be working to collect all of the fruit without dying. In your way are a variety of obstacles, traps, and enemies, and you’ll need to carefully manipulate gravity to move between the floor and ceiling to get through it all. While I wouldn’t say any of it feels like something you haven’t seen before if you’re a puzzle platforming veteran, I do give some credit for it surpassing my expectations for the price of admission and showing some smart level design even relatively early on.

Mighty Switch Force Collection - If you’ve never heard of or played any of the Mighty Switch Force titles before, and enjoy a solid puzzle platformer, you may be in luck with this one. This series is all about moving through levels, capturing criminals, finding secrets, and working out some action platforming puzzles along the way. While there are 4 games in the collection 1 of them is a remaster of the original so consider it’s more like 3 unique games in reality. Breaking it down a little further the last game in the collection, Mighty Switch Force Academy, is a multi-player experience which allows for both co-op and competitive play using the same general look and style. All in all it offers up satisfying play for a reasonable price but just be sure you understand there are essentially 2 original games, a remaster, and a multi-player variant here when considering the cost of admission.

Kill la Kill The Game - As someone who has watched some anime over time, but has hardly kept up over the years, Kill la Kill is something new to me so walking into the world of this game is definitely a bit mind-boggling. There’s some seriously crazy/weird survival of the fittest mixed with schoolyard clique mixed with serious family issues stuff going on here, and while it is an entertaining roller coaster ride for the uninitiated it may be hard to follow. With the sheer volume of story told through animated and voice acted cut-scenes this is an experience catering first to fans of the series, without a doubt, and its gameplay takes a back seat. The good news is that when you finally do get down to playing while I could see where some button mashing could be effective the 3D arena fighting is surprisingly satisfying, though perhaps over the long term lacking in depth. If you’re a fan of the series my impression is that this title has gone all out to make you absolutely feel at home and happy. If you’re not, the impressive presentation may be more wasted on you leaving a title that can be fun for a while but doesn’t really stand up to the quality of play offered by other fighters already available on the system though.

Terrorhythm - Starting with the elevator pitch, a game mixing up a rhythm game with a beat-em-up, Terrorhythm had my interest. At a glance its stylish and futuristic looks also add to its appeal. Unfortunately, where things get a bit more dicey is in the gameplay itself and a lack of overall variety. Granted, beat-em-ups tend to traditionally be a bit on the repetitive side but they can compensate with cool attacks or combos and a need to maneuver around the screen. Here you just have enemies coming from either side of the screen that you’ll take out… but ideally that will happen to the beat, bringing the two elements of the game together. Except whether it has something to do with the animations, the muddiness of the beats in the track, or perhaps the responsiveness of the controls it just doesn’t quite connect somehow. It’s playable, it has its moments, and it’s in the proximity of coming together, but the end product just doesn’t quite gel unfortunately. Overall this makes for a playable game that is uneven and not terribly satisfying for fans of either genre.

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.

Monday, July 22

Mini Reviews: July 22nd 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.

Etherborn [Nindie Choice!] - The definite stand-out title of the week is Etherborn, a gorgeous, challenging, and somewhat mind-bending 3D environmental puzzler. While it all starts out pretty simply, with you needing to navigate through spaces where you’ll need to repeatedly reorient yourself as the world rotates to stay beneath you, you’ll quickly learn that its puzzles can be quite diabolical. Smart, fabulously attractive, but at times no doubt frustratingly challenging, this won’t be for people easily discouraged. However, if you enjoy being tested and working to explore and experiment within complex environments to find the way out of them, Etherborn will keep you engrossed for hours.

Pinball FX3 Williams Volume 4: Being an enormous fan of classic pinball tables from the Williams era I’m always excited to see what they have in store with each new volume. That said, this is a pack that (for me) lacks a single powerhouse table that I’m thoroughly enamored with. The good news is that while some of the other packs have had a weaker table of some sort on the other end of the spectrum against an absolute top-tier classic this one at least has 3 diverse tables of what I’d consider comparable quality. White Water has quite a bit of personality and feels like the more ramp-heavy table of the bunch. Red and Ted’s Road Show, by comparison, most definitely features the most gimmicks and craziness. Rounding things out with a more traditional and toned-down feel there’s then Hurricane, sporting the classic amusement park theme and working as a nice all-rounder.

Redeemer: Enhanced Edition - While the beat-em-up was an arcade and early console staple in more recent years it hasn’t had much representation. Getting the right feel and including variety tend to be the challenges for the genre, and Redeemer takes some tough hits in both areas which tends to hold it back. Granted, there are some positive core elements with its top-down view that give it an almost Diablo-like look at times and some location-based attacks and finishers that can add some flair but it gets a bit monotonous pretty quickly. The ability to pick up and use weapons is an attempt to stave off repetition but even as you get deeper into the game there’s just not enough evolution in the combat mechanics so you tend to fall into the same attack patterns that work best, lather, rinse, and repeat. There are certainly worse examples of the genre out there but there are also ones that are clearly superior worth seeking out first.

Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity - Delivering gameplay somewhere between an endless runner and a space flight simulator, Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity is a pretty unique, and at times challenging, experience. As you make your way through various systems, being sure to make smart use of your boost to maneuver between asteroids and slingshot around using gravity, there’s a surprisingly engaging story as well, something the game doesn’t need but that at least helps make it a bit more fun. My biggest complaint is definitely the tendency of the camera to get too close to you on a regular basis, complicating your attempts to fly through tough spots by simply making it hard to get a good view of the action. Especially when you’re trying to make the shift from one side of the screen to the other by going past the edge it is easy to lose track of where you are, making deaths or other problems you have when that happens particularly aggravating. That said, mechanically and in terms of upgrades the game does more than you’d expect so it may very well feel like a hidden gem to the right audience who can be patient with it in a few areas.

Mochi Mochi Boy - While its budget price and cute pixel art looks may call to you I’d say it is worth taking the time to check out Mochi Mochi Boy a bit before you consider picking it up. Mechanically it is a pretty unoriginal and I’d say outright dull puzzle game where you’ll spend most of your time trying to snake your way through a level, being sure to fill in all spaces. Sure, there are some wrinkles thrown in to complicate things, and perhaps make it a bit more exciting, but there’s really nothing here of substance you likely haven’t seen before. It’s just probably one of the more plain and dull puzzlers I’ve played on the system in quite some time.

Sunday, July 14

Mini Reviews: July 15th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With quite a lot going on at the moment I’ve had to pull back the time I’ve been putting into playing and evaluating all of the games that come my way. I’ll always post gameplay of the titles I get but while I don’t feel comfortable committing to full reviews 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.

Blazing Chrome [Nindie Choice!] - As a huge fan of the classic arcade run n’ gun shooters I hold Contra in very high regard, so it’s always a thrill when someone manages to put out a title that can give it a run for its money. While there have been some titles that have nailed the retro look of this iconic series most have come up a bit short in the feel department, never quite capturing the level of difficulty, variety, and hard core gunning action that made it legendary. Armed with a variety of weapons and crucial power-ups you’ll be hard pressed to get through to the end as you’ll need to overcome swarms of enemies, some tricky traversals, and tough bosses. However, if you’ve been thirsting for something that kicks you down and makes you keep coming back for more this title absolutely delivers.

Streets of Rogue - This is a title I’ve had my eye on since it initially hit early access on PC where I struggled to find the fun and had put it down in the hopes that on final release it would all come together. While I enjoy roguelikes there’s just something about Streets that just doesn’t work for me, the more open-ended structure may be liberating for the right crowd and encourage experimentation, but more often than not I just found it tedious... and I don’t think the combat mechanics do it any favors either. Definitely one to read up and watch some video for, I have no doubt it will have fans with its very different feel but I’d consider it an acquired taste for sure.

Professor Lupo and His Horrible Pets - With an abundance of puzzle games of all styles and flavors it is undoubtedly hard to make yourself stand out. This is the area where Professor Lupo is the strongest, providing a funky enough story mixed with wonderfully animated characters and appropriately described “pets” who’ll gladly help you meet your demise. I’d even say that in concept the puzzles tends to be pretty smart once you get rolling and provide a fair challenge. The challenge for me, though, on a consistent basis was the glacial pace of character movement and the somewhat wonky nature of the controls, especially when trying to play with a controller. The fun is there in the core experience, you’ll just need to get used to things and try to let the game’s humor compensate for its quirks.

Paradox Soul - Among the genres with no lack of stellar representation on the Switch, Metroidvanias are pretty high on the list. Coming at the genre from more of the budget edge of the spectrum we now also have Paradox Soul, a game that unfortunately demonstrates its lack of polish in most areas. If it were only the pretty mundane and lackluster looks holding it back perhaps it could generate some enthusiasm, but unfortunately your death-prone character who simply doesn’t have many abilities to work with never delivers much in the way of excitement. Sure, clearing areas and getting past boss fights will require some commitment and grit but the combat more often than not involves taking cover, pausing, and firing back… and that approach is pretty well mandatory given your lacking health bar. Throw in having to backtrack through dull rooms that often begin to blend together and this is a hard one to recommend with so many better examples of the genre out there to choose from.

Bouncy Bullets - Without a doubt 3D platforming has a tendency to be a train wreck when implemented poorly. The inability to easily see your feet in relation to the ground can make them notoriously challenging for all of the wrong reasons though obviously some titles are able to pull it off better than others. Bouncy Bullets, unfortunately, isn’t one of those games that flourishes under the pressure with twitchy controls exacerbating an already tough control situation. Throw in lackluster level design and pretty uninspired shooting elements and even with its budget price this is a bit of a clunker.

Senran Kagura Peach Ball - Having been previously introduced to the, shall I say “jiggly”, nature of the Senran Kagura series a while back when a new title featuring pinball-style gameplay was announced it made me laugh and I knew I’d have to check it out. Pretty well coming in expecting a train wreck, I’ll say instead that I was pleasantly surprised by the gameplay Peach Ball manages to provide to try to justify the somewhat cringeworthy visual aspects that I have no doubt have their fans. While the table complexity and variety aren’t that high, and the flippers on the amusement park table feel a bit slow and chunky, I’ll admit that there was enough here to satisfy the pinball fan in me, even if perhaps not for long. Throw some truly bizarre dialogue and events that constitute the story and while this absolutely won’t be a mainstream game I’ll give it credit for showing enough ambition and quality to justify itself as more than a mere cash-in on its more mature elements.

Monday, July 8

Mini Reviews: July 8th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With quite a lot going on at the moment I’ve had to pull back the time I’ve been putting into playing and evaluating all of the games that come my way. I’ll always post gameplay of the titles I get but while I don’t feel comfortable committing to full reviews 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.

Slay the Spire [Nindie Choice!] - While deck building games would usually fall into the category of titles I’d file under “an acquired taste” the Switch now has 2 rock solid titles with that style of play that have proven mainstream friendly this year. While SteamWorld Quest went more story-driven and static though, Slay the Spire very much embraces a roguelike approach instead that keeps it challenging and surprising across many attempts you’ll make with its heroes that each have a very different style. There’s definitely a learning curve here, as you’ll need to experiment with different combinations of cards to work out which synergize the most effectively together and which you’re better off without. For true roguelike or strategy fans this is absolutely a title you won’t want to miss out on, it easily lives up to the positive buzz it has been receiving.

War Tech Fighters [Nindie Choice!] - While there have been a few big robots battling in space games on Switch to date none of them have quite clicked for me. Though War Tech Fighters takes a little getting used to it’s the first that has put the overall package together in a way that’s compelling, if perhaps a bit repetitive. Strangely one of the elements that made me a believer is the use of the somewhat cinematic finishers that you can use to dispatch your enemies once their health is sufficiently low. You have a small boost to incentivize you doing them and thankfully the wealth of ways your mech will finish off enemies manages to make it fun, even if it ends up stilting the flow of gameplay. While it may lean more heavily on popcorn fun than some may prefer, a bevvy of upgrade options and a sense of flair help it to climb to the top of the genre heap on Switch.

Graveyard Keeper - Ever since the release and massive success of Stardew Valley I’ve been waiting to see what games it would inspire. Surprisingly, there really haven’t been many to date but now we have Graveyard Keeper stepping up to the plate. Certainly the elevator pitch for the game would be “Stardew Valley but with a morbid sense of humor” and that would be an accurate assessment on the surface. Dig a little deeper and spend some time with it though and there are some clear differences beyond just the gallows humor. Functionally many of the tasks and general routines are very similar, with you needing to explore, learn skills, acquire equipment through purchase or crafting, and make friends. Where Keeper comes up short is that it isn’t as structured and well crafted. Progress is slow, quest goals tend to string together too many tasks, and on a general level the game feels a bit more like a refined rough draft than a carefully composed and polished masterpiece. There’s no doubt fun to be had here, it can just be a lot of squeeze at times for not quite enough juice.

Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered - If you’re seeking third-person shooting action with a healthy dose of destructions peppered in while this title may show its overall age it can still offer up some fun. Since it includes all of the game’s original DLC there’s a plentiful amount of content to work your way through, the question is whether what often feels like generic gunplay will sustain your interest throughout. Your missions will keep things moving with the best often being those that demand you wreck buildings using a number of means but repetition will still slowly set in. In part you can blame that on the sparse martian environments you’ll be working through which lack in distinction so mentally it all begins to meld together. Still, it has just enough to set itself aside as a unique experience on the Switch that it has some merit.

Q-YO Blaster - Let’s face it, there are simply a ton of shmups on the Switch and they come in all shapes and sizes. In terms of personality Q-YO Blaster does at least distinguish itself, with an odd sort of pixel art style that packs style and no lack of ambition. Indeed, some of the bosses almost look inspired by the likes of Cuphead in their scale and loving details, though in more of a 16-bit form. Where things are a bit more shaky is in the gameplay itself which more often than not feels a bit generic unfortunately, and the difficulty doesn’t help here with stretches that feel a bit too easy punctuated with sudden jumps. That said, if you enjoy the likes of classics like the Parodius series and want something a bit more unorthodox it makes for a great choice.

Redneck Skeet Shooting - Ugh, there are just some games that you can’t understand being released on Switch. Sure, there are mobile ports of all kinds that have made it over, undoubtedly with varying degrees of value and success. In the case of Redneck Skeet Shooting the extremely limited play, dull grinding, and very little genuine content would make it an iffy prospect even on a mobile device. Aside from looking for some sort of lowbrow humor (which there really isn’t any, I just struggle to identify the appeal beyond that) this budget title just has so very little to offer that I can’t recommend it.

Sunday, July 7

Mini Reviews: June 24th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With quite a lot going on at the moment I’ve had to pull back the time I’ve been putting into playing and evaluating all of the games that come my way. I’ll always post gameplay of the titles I get but while I don’t feel comfortable committing to full reviews 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.

Battle Worlds: Kronos - Big picture turn-based strategy titles where you need to move your units around to outflank and outsmart the enemy aren’t heavily represented on Switch so fans of the genre will likely be interested in Kronos. Lacking the flash of the likes of Wargroove and with a more punishingly heavy consequence for failing to exercise caution and care in your every move, Kronos distinguishes itself though there’s no denying its pace is a bit plodding. However, if you’re up for a sustained challenge the unit variety, demand for making proper use of every opportunity, and smarts of this strategy fest should overcome its somewhat bland presentation.

Timespinner - With some great pixel art and a story that takes you through a variety of eras to change things up, Timespinner has its strengths. That said, given the competition in the Metroidvania space on the Switch the combat, exploration, and upgrades you’re able to obtain over the course of the game may be novel but they also fail to thrill. While the time-stopping mechanic, in theory, could have really helped set the game apart aside from some telegraphed spots where it can be useful or in boss fights it doesn’t really go anywhere. While by no means a bad game it struggles to make its case to be among the top tier of games available in the genre.

Phantom Doctrine - When it comes to turn-based tactical strategy there’s no doubt that emulating the X-Com mold from the PC space is a smart way to go. That said, the various attempts (short of Mario and the Rabbids) to make this sort of experience work on the Switch have been a bit half-baked. Coming in somewhere in the middle to the bottom of the pile we have Phantom Doctrine, which tries to build some intrigue with its cloak and dagger feel. While what is going on outside of the missions themselves can be interesting (though perhaps a bit confusing as you try to get your bearings) when you’re in the action the interface and mechanics feel pretty clunky and detract from the experience.

Mainlining - Starting with the positive Mainlining comes to the table as a pretty unique experience on the Switch, with you working to use your computer and hacking skills to catch cyber criminals. If you like the challenge of not having a game hold your hand there’s an additional plus as you’ll be left to work with the information you have access to and will have to  follow every lead at your disposal in order to progress. Where it takes a major hit is with the controls though, as this is obviously a game that was made for the PC with a keyboard and mouse and while the attempt to make it work with a controller isn’t a horrible stab it really makes for a cumbersome experience.

Monday, July 1

Mini Reviews: July 1st Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With quite a lot going on at the moment I’ve had to pull back the time I’ve been putting into playing and evaluating all of the games that come my way. I’ll always post gameplay of the titles I get but while I don’t feel comfortable committing to full reviews 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.

Duke of Defense - Given that the tower defense style strategy genre is pretty well-represrented already on the Switch in terms of numbers Duke of Defense is a bit of a tough sell. Granted, it plays a little differently than some of its contemporaries but its look and overall experience still feel quite generic unfortunately. Granted, outside of exceptions like X-Morph Defense and OTTTD that clearly break away from the pack Duke of Defense isn’t any worse than any of the rest, it just lacks that spark of excitement and originality I look for in this overdone genre.

We. The Revolution - Definite points for being daring enough to do things differently and to help put people into the mindset of a very different and tumultuous time in history but this is very much an acquired taste. Sorting through the evidence and trying to make the right decisions from the bench while managing your personal and political livelihood as well isn’t something you do often so it’s interesting but it isn’t without its issues. I suppose part of the point is being forced to decide between what you’d choose to do morally and what you may need to do pragmatically to stay alive but it can also be aggravating when it comes to gameplay.

Cybarian: The Time Traveling Warrior - This is one of those titles where very quickly I struggled to find the compelling fun. While your warrior character may look cool his extremely limited moveset for attacks quickly makes for dull gameplay. With so many side-scrolling games already on Switch that both look amazing and have exciting gameplay to boot this really comes up short.

SCRAP - With a mix of endless runner, platforming, and a bit of puzzling in its gameplay SCRAP isn’t too bad as a budget title to play anywhere but it’s just nice... not thrilling, but nice. It plays smoothly, you’ll be challenged to grab everything on every stage the first time through, and at times you may need a few attempts to get your timing down. Not bad for the price though, I suppose.

Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love - I think it may be possible that the classic adventure genre may be among the toughest to have a break out hit with. This is in part because, as a whole, the majority of titles I’ve played in the space have a pretty consistent level of quality and polish, delivering some laughs with smart puzzles of all types. Irony Curtain has a slightly different sense of humor than many of the others but the lovable but misunderstood weirdo main character thing has obviously been done to death so it’s hard to get super excited. Still, if you enjoy the genre and getting in some giggles it’s a good choice.

Scrap Rush - While you try hard not to be overly reductive when evaluating games when there’s an unmistakable inspiration involve you have to note it. While Scrap Rush does offer up a bit of a variation on the method of dealing with obstacles and dispatching your enemies there’s no missing its similarities to the Bomberman franchise. To its credit its single-player mode at least has a different feel to it, even if it isn’t terribly exciting, and it does a decent job of helping you understand what you’re capable of. Then, whether against bots or friends, you’ll be working to shove blocks of scrap at each other and trying to squish everyone else while not allowing them to do the same to you. It doesn’t do a lot to clearly stand on its own but it’s not a bad alternative if you and your friends could enjoy a variation on a familiar theme.

Azuran Tales: Trials - It has a bit of an old school feel to it, and once you get rolling Azuran Tales isn’t too bad but there’s no denying its quite rough around the edges. Awkward animations, some bugginess (falling through the floor), and mechanics that aren’t quite up to modern standards hold it back but if you’re patient with it there’s some challenging gameplay to be found here that may appeal to people looking for something to dig their teeth into.

Attack of the Toy Tanks - I’m a bit torn on this one as I have fond memories of playing Combat way back on my Atari 2600. For what it lacked in complexity and attractiveness it made up for with fun with crazy ricochet shots and variety. While Tank Toys may look much better the core experience isn’t terribly different, you’ll move around trying to shoot your enemies while using cover to your advantage. Just whether playing against the CPU or someone else it just doesn’t do much to make itself exciting.