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.