Friday, August 23

Mini Reviews: August 23rd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Hotline Miami Collection [Nindie Choice!] - Shadow dropped as a surprise just this week Hotline Miami was one of those indie darling titles that had shocked me continuing to be a hold out more than 2 years after the system’s launch. To help soften the blow, and in what I think is a nod to practicality, both the original and its sequel have been released together in this collection. This helps with the fact that neither game is terribly long and, in general, the sequel isn’t quite as beloved as its predecessor. These titles are all about execution, thinking and reacting quickly, and often a fair amount of luck. Both are brutal in their violence, but there’s something quite satisfying when you manage to string together a series of kills and leave a bloody mess in your wake. If you’re hoping for more, the story here is on the thin (and weird) side, but there’s no denying that when it comes to intensity and carnage there’s nothing quite like it.

Wolfenstein : Youngblood - Bethesda has continued its streak of bringing games with ambitious scope to the handheld-capable Switch, but of their offerings on the system Youngblood feels the least satisfying overall. Granted, the co-op mechanics (if you’re able to find someone decent and reliable enough to play with) and the budget price help to keep this still being a great overall deal, just for some reason the characters and story here felt a little more “going through the motions” than New Colossus or the likes of Skyrim. Still, if you don’t mind watching textures morph and some visual funkiness that manages to generally keep the frame rates nimble the majority of the time, and like the thrill of dispatching Nazis in a variety of creative ways, it does manage to deliver the thrills.

Friday the 13th: The Game - Though I’ve always been a fan of the concept of asymmetric multiplayer games (a game where you’re not playing with evenly-balanced sides, one side will be more powerful but less numerous) there’s no denying they aren’t for everyone. What really works with pairing this concept with the classic horror series is that it makes pretty well perfect sense that the unstoppable force that is Jason Voorhees is able to match up well with a bevvy of camp counselors and have it make for a fair fight. As Jason you’ll need to wisely use your capabilities (each with their own cooldown) to locate, track down, and dispatch your prey, often in quite a satisfyingly bloody way. As a counselor you’ll certainly want to avoid detection and hide when appropriate but your real goal will be to complete tasks like repair a car to help you drive away or call the police in order to not just live in the immediate future but survive the ordeal as well. As always, online play can and will be a crapshoot depending on when you’re trying to play and in terms of who you may get paired with. If you consider the unpredictability of it all to just be part of the fun though, and can overlook some comically weird and quirky animations at times, there’s fun to be had here if you put in the time to understand its overall mechanics well.

Never Give Up - Ever since Super Meat Boy hit the indie scene developers have been scrambling to recapture the addicting and aggravating qualities that can make almost constant failure and punishment engaging. Never Give Up is very much in that general mold, making you use your somewhat limited platforming abilities to nimble jump over, around, and through tons of very nasty traps that will leave your body a bloody mess. Thankfully your lives are unlimited and there’s next to no delay from the time you bite it yet again to being thrown right back into the meat grinder. What stands out for this title is its smart and progressive layering of difficulty. You’ll always start with a relatively simple and light area that you can likely get through without a scratch. However, each time you reach your goal the game will then present you with a tougher and more elaborate version of that same general room, forcing you to take on more and more to reach the goal. Muscle memory is a big part of the experience, and for the most part it all plays fine, just I’ll admit there are times when the controls didn’t quite feel as responsive as I would have liked given the stakes and quick deaths in the game.

Sega Ages: Space Harrier - When it comes to retro games essentially being ported over to the Switch they’re always a bit of a take it or leave it proposition. Some will make attempts to add some value but in the case of Space Harrier this is a pretty no-frills package relying primarily on people’s affinity for this very unusual and, I think, great arcade shooter. There is an added mode that feels like it loads up a small Pikachu on either side of you but unfortunately they really do very little to almost nothing aside from add protection in limited circumstances, hardly changing things up in any way. If you’re a fan of the arcade classic or want to broaden your retro shooter horizons this isn’t a bad pick-up but it’s likely only going to be something of interest to enthusiasts.