Thursday, September 5

Mini Reviews: September 5th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

River City Girls [Nindie Choice!] - While the beat-em-up genre was absolutely a staple of both the arcades and the early console days more recently titles have been few and far between. The great news is that if you’ve been aching for a new excuse to dust off your brawler skills and smack some bad guys around River City Girls is easily among the best offerings available on the Switch. In general reminding me of the excellent Scott Pilgrim beat-em-up from a number of years ago there’s a quality to the presentation, action, and obvious love for the genre here that’s unmistakable and it’s a blast to play solo or with a friend. Of course if you’re someone who’ll simply settle into what combos work and fail to make full use of your attacks the that continue to unlock as you progress it will probably feel repetitive but that’s simply the nature of the beast and it won’t have been for the game’s lack of trying to give you new moves to work with as you level up.

Creature in the Well [Nindie Choice!] - With Creature in the Well there’s just so much to like and appreciate. The art style is distinct and interesting, the mix of slashing and pinball elements are unique and make for fascinating puzzles and action, and there’s no doubt that I’ve never played any game like it. Once you get a fair distance into the game and begin facing more situations that center around timers though there’s no denying that it’s probably tuned a little too far towards being challenging for the average gamer. The frustration in some of these circumstances actually would often make me feel like there’s some technique or trick to things that I missed at some point, and that I’ve made it harder than it is meant to be. However, even with a fair amount of experimenting I’ve not found a way to do better than what feels like a mix of the planets aligning and outright luck to just barely satisfy a specific module with enough power before its timer goes to zero. This leaves me a bit torn on a recommendation as I absolutely think this is a game worth playing, but whether it would be toned down a bit in general or have a more lenient difficulty setting added I do think it’s in need of some tuning to be more accessible to a broad audience.

Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch Edition [Nindie Choice!] - Oh Bulletstorm, you were a title that I don’t think ever got quite a fair shake back when it was released. Built on moving from one over-the-top set piece of action to another, with plenty of opportunities to creatively dispatch enemies in between, there’s a gleefulness to the game’s violence you’ll either love or hate. Throwing Duke Nukem into the mix turns out to make the game even more over-the-top-er-er, weirdly having him take the place of the game’s main character but deliberately not changing any of the interactions or dialogue with the other characters as far as I can tell. So aside from Duke’s classic bravado (which fits into this game like a glove) there are some funny interactions from his being spliced into a pre-existing game and feeling disoriented. What then seals the deal is that the game’s intense action plays out very capably on the Switch, looking great and feeling surprisingly smooth. Even in handheld mode it manages to keep up well enough to be respectable, not something every port of this scope can pull off. If you enjoyed the game back in the day or simply have a penchant for loads of ridiculous shooting action this is a blast.

Root Letter: Last Answer - As someone who isn’t terribly familiar with visual novels, and can find them a bit too plodding with not enough to do, Root Letter is a bit of a surprise. Offering up just enough interaction that works much like a classic point-and-click adventure, smart dialogue, some strange characters, and an intriguing mystery, it’s helpful in showing what the genre is capable of in the right hands. I also appreciate the option, since this is a remastered title, to explore the game in its original anime form or with its new photo-realistic look, each very distinct from one another and impressive in their own right. If you’re either a long-time fan of the genre and have never indulged in this story or are curious about what it has to offer among the titles of its kind on Switch I’d say this is the one that has managed to make the strongest impression.

Damsel - When you envision what a game that involves killing vampires and saving innocent humans would play out like you’re probably figuring on something high on intensity and action. In the case of Damsel you’d be mostly wrong. Playing out as a speedrunning puzzle action shooter platformer of sorts it offers up a mixed bag of elements that can be engaging but also don’t quite scratch a clear itch either in the end. I’ll give it credit for not being as lacking in variety as a fair number of its competitors, but even with varying objectives and elements to concern yourself with it’s all a bit vanilla, only really kicking in a challenge if you’re determined to get your name on the leaderboards perhaps by being quick or maximizing your combos through technique.