Sunday, September 15

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

Star Wars Pinball [Nindie Choice!] - If you’re either a massive Star Wars or pinball fan you can stop reading the review now and just buy this… rest assured, they’ve got you covered. Falling into the category of maximum, bordering on preposterous, effort, Star Wars Pinball isn’t just a few random tables. It’s an outright collection right out of the gate and represents an amazing value with 19 tables spanning the movies (including the more recent one-shots, for better or worse), TV shows (though, sadly, no Holiday Special), and even popular characters. Rather than phoning it in with relatively generic table layouts and throwing in sound bites to accentuate the action the folks behind the game have made a real investment in trying to imbue each table with unique character, many of them taking full advantage of the virtual nature of the game to concoct tables that wouldn’t be practical (or even possible) in a physical form. That does likely mean that not everyone will love every table but at the same time I applaud the effort and it really does make the depth of the total package remarkable. Throw in a Career mode that tries to include some elements of variety with objectives and challenges to complete and this is a great example of a game package swinging for the fences to deliver the full value of its price of admission.

Blasphemous [Nindie Choice!] - From first glance during a Direct there was no question that Blasphemous, visually, was something pretty special. With a dark and gothic tone all its own, this is certainly a stand-out in the Switch library. What may be divisive for the average gamer will be the degree of difficulty that comes along for the ride. Owing much to the likes of Castlevania in its overall style and feel, with you slashing your way through enemies, finding power-ups and secrets all about in a non-linear way, the old school sensibilities of those original games is also in full effect here. This is an unforgivingly tough game, one that will prompt controllers leaving peoples’ hands, whether being put down or even thrown. If that sounds like your jam I’d say the experience is pretty easy to recommend, though perhaps it doesn’t do a great deal to stand out from its inspirations in terms of innovative gameplay. If you’re not a seasoned gamer and aren’t looking for a title to kick you down and coldly tell you to “git gud” repeatedly you’ll likely be better off taking on something a bit less ambitious though.

Hyperforma [Nindie Choice!] - Part of what makes me a huge fan of indie titles is walking into new experiences that take me by surprise. Hyperforma easily catches your attention with some strong visuals, a great soundtrack, and gameplay that feels unusual and fresh. Combining puzzle sensibilities with a fair amount of classic Breakout, here your goal is to chip away at a 3 dimensional structure to expose and then attack the puzzle’s core. Effectively rotating each figure in 3D space takes a little getting used to, trying to keep your orb(s) working efficiently to get through the outer layer defenses while also trying to avoid blocks that will do you harm. As you progress you’ll gain some power-ups that you’ll want to put to smart use to help you work more quickly, and on a general level things remain pretty fresh throughout. Where the problems do creep in is that no matter how cool things happen to look, and though you do end up working your way through by trial and error, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I spent a fair amount of time not quite sure what I was supposed to be doing or how I was being evaluated as I completed each stage. Still, for a pretty reasonably low asking price there’s something different and exciting to it, and as a puzzle fan who usually feels like he has seen it all that makes it worth a look if you’re in the mood for a unique experience.

Inferno 2 - As a huge fan of arcade-style twin-stick shooters any game raising its hand as being part of that genre immediately has my attention. Inferno 2 is a budget-friendly entry with a solid and clean visual style, plenty of options for how you want to manage your power-ups, and some challenging play. All that said, with so many options for this type of game on the eShop I’d say comparatively it lacks the personality to truly set itself apart from the pack and jump into an immediately recommendation. It’s satisfying and challenging, yes, and its price makes it a very easy impulse buy, just don’t expect anything more than a rock solid implementation of the genre. If you’ve been spoiled by the multitude of titles already on Switch that go the extra mile though it may seem lacking.

Himno - Falling into the category of “Uhm, I’m not quite sure what’s going on here” we have Himno, a title that seems to be trying to go for a randomly-generated platformer vibe, but that ends up just being kind of flat and uninteresting in the process. You’ll use your modest moves to explore and progress from stage to stage, navigating spaces that may be created on the fly but that as a result tend to lack in personality or interest. While it may be budget-friendly it never managed to impress me as an experience I could get hooked on, especially when there’s so much out there that feels more polished, cohesive, and compelling, even on a budget.