Thursday, September 19

Mini Reviews: September 19th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Jet Kave Adventure [Nindie Choice!] - When it comes to reasonably-prices platformers typically retro pixel art games are what comes to mind, but in the case of Jet Kave Adventures you get a little more visual bang for your buck. You’ll play the part of Kave, a former chief who stumbles into an alien whose ship has crash landed. Once you pick up a discarded alien jetpack early on the game moves from a more traditional straight platformer to an experience that’s at least a little more involved, even if not terribly long or inventive. For me the setting and action are a bit reminiscent of Joe and Mac back in the day, but with a little extra flavor thrown in, so in general it’s a good thing. While it doesn’t break much new ground for its price it delivered more than I expected and takes a respectable stab at providing a different flavor from the ordinary for the genre on the Switch.

Niffelheim - Survival games have made their presence known on the Switch and have taken on a pretty wide variety of forms from casual to more hardcore. Niffelheim joins those ranks and distinguishes itself visually, with a viking-styled flair, and in terms of challenge it’s somewhere in the middle by not being oppressively hard but it won’t hesitate to kill you if you’re not careful and cautious. Somewhat consistent with the genre you won’t get much direction, you’ll create your character (making a few choices as to the type of Warrior you’ll work with) and then get dropped into the world with minimal guidance past merely surviving. Through exploration and experimentation you’ll then begin to accumulate resources, work out the means to craft items and reagents, and then slowly expand your footprint while warding off the forces that mean to do you grave harm. This is definitely a slow burn grindy experience, so if you’re looking for quick and light it absolutely won’t be a match, but if you don’t mind the pace and can overlook the clunky combat there’s some enjoyment to be had for genre fans.

CHOP - While the Switch and independent developers have certainly helped bring about the full return of local competitive multiplayer action the result can, at times, feel like a very mixed blessing. In the case of CHOP I’ll at least give it credit for having a distinctive look, quick and bloody action, and some variety in stages, modes, and options to help keep things interesting. While each of the 4 characters has their own special ability that gives them an edge in some specific respect the core action revolves around quickly traversing the stage to get yourself into position to either come in hard with melee attacks or take a chance and throw your weapon in the hopes of turning your enemy into a bloody mess. This makes for chaotic action without a doubt, but its longevity will be very dependent on the availability of friends to play with locally and whether you find that the available modes differentiate themselves enough to keep the play from getting stale. Among the choices on the Switch it at least gets some points for having its own look and feel, and its reasonable budget-friendly price makes it worth considering if you’re looking for some competitive thrills when getting together with some friends.

DISTRAINT: Deluxe Edition - One of the more interesting aspects of the full-on return of the classic point-and-click adventure genre is that indie developers have really explored using it as a vehicle for using that base and telling interesting stories with it. That’s definitely the case with Distraint, as it uses dark and often trippy visuals to try to tell a different kind of story and convey the experience of a young man named Price as he navigates the twists and turns of the path in life he has chosen, along with his guilt and regrets. In terms of actual gameplay it can be disappointing as the puzzles as a whole tend to be very linear and even a bit clumsy, but if you’re down for the weird visuals and an unusual story it shouldn’t disappoint.

Super Dodgeball Beats - Music and rhythm games are always fun to check out in general, and with Super Dodgeball Beats the promise of manga-style visuals and the world’s best playground sport getting involved only added to its potential. Unfortunately, the result in this case is a game that has a decent sense of humor, and looks very cool, but whose gameplay is a real letdown. The controls aren’t particularly great, never a good start, but the real problem for me is the nature of the visual cues and how they often correspond to the music. When things move past being very easy discerning which button you’ll be pressing and in what rhythm gets muddy to say the least. Circles that appear and then shrink around members of your team give you guidance on what to do but visually it’s all pretty busy and when beats move from one character to another they can be easy to miss. Add on to that the fact that the music and what you’re doing don’t always feel completely in synch and it makes for a frustrating and sloppy experience, and with so many great titles in this genre on the system it makes it easy to pass on.