Thursday, October 17

Mini Reviews: October 17th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Little Town Hero [Nindie Choice!] - When you’re a game studio responsible for what may be arguably one of the biggest and most successful franchises in the world it must be challenging to break away and do something very different. They’ve proven themselves in the past by making some smaller titles like the excellent HarmoKnight in particular, and in the case of Little Town Hero they’ve again plotted out a pretty unique direction and made something worthwhile. The emphasis in the game is on strategic turn-based combat against some pretty intimidating monsters who mean to do your town and friends harm. The hook is that while elements of the battle system may feel familiar and similar to concepts in some tactical RPGs or even deck-building games there’s nothing I’ve ever played quite like this. Getting up to speed with this takes time, as do the battles themselves which tend to be a pretty drawn out affair, but the result tends to be quite rewarding if you have patience and the right mind for it. Layer in a pretty light-hearted story with fun characters, a great art style, and plenty of charming polish and this is absolutely a unique title that stands out on its own and should be rewarding for the right audience.

Kine [Nindie Choice!] - Cutting right to the chase the Switch has a massive library of puzzle games of all types and levels of polish. That said, on pretty well every level it doesn’t have anything that quite compares to Kine. The core challenge of the game is its 3D puzzling, featuring 3 distinctive characters who each have their own unique ways of moving around and being manipulated. What you’ll find is that in order to get through each stage you’ll need to very precisely work out how to navigate its challenges, and it’s going to take some serious thought power to do so as the game moves on and continues to raise the bar in terms of the intricacy of its levels. Throw in the game’s terrific art style, easygoing jazz soundtrack, and periodic insightful and fun comments and it’s a compelling package for puzzle fans in search of a change of pace on the system.

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors - While it got off to a little bit of a slow start the Switch has been blessed with a ton of great beat-em-ups to choose from, and especially for fans of the original arcade title Ninja Saviors is a strong addition to the list. You’ll pick your ninja, each of which has their own variation in play style, and then take on a load of challenging side-scrolling slashing action. Especially for retro fans showing respect for the original game is critical, and there’s no doubt that Saviors does this, absolutely delivering what feels like an authentic sequel to the arcade classic original. Depending on how you approach the game this could be viewed either as a strength or a weakness. The game’s strictly side-to-side movement and combat are authentic, and I’m sure there’s a crowd thirsting for the simultaneous simplicity and challenge it brings, but even moreso than games where you have more ability to move around it does make much of the “filler” combat while you progress to the challenging boss fights feel generic. If you’re playing co-op with a friend this can still make for a lot of fun, and if you enjoy this more classic style you’ll likely be in heaven, but the more modern your tastes are it may feel a bit limited.

Sublevel Zero Redux - Way back when there was an underground 3D shooter that shook things up nicely called Descent. Though it wasn’t for everyone it was a unique title that challenged you to think about complex 3 dimensional spaces and navigate them all while engaging in combat with enemies. Sublevel Zero Redux in many regards feels like a spiritual successor to that title, bringing labyrinthian 3D spaces, a variety of weapons systems, and an added wrinkle of challenge in the fact that it’s a roguelike game which brings along its own challenges, unpredictability, and variety. While conceptually and in terms of general play I dig it there are also some elements that feel like they bog things down a bit. Mainly the concern with ammunition and resources and the need to manage your weapons and support systems a bit. For me they just interfere with keeping the action going and detract from the fun, but if you can live with what may be somewhat minor gripes it’s a unique and engaging shooter that may feel very new to many people on Switch.

Stranded Sails - Survival games and cultivation simulators are somewhat of a niche, but with periodic stand out titles like Stardew Valley that manage to get the formula right in a way that can break out into the mainstream they can make a big splash if done right. Stranded Sails aims high and attempts to use a shipwreck as the basis for your needing to start things up from scratch to build a thriving village from limited resources, and to a degree it is successful. Once you get the lay of the land and understand the systems you’ll be able to cultivate, collect, and craft your way to success. Where it struggles is in helping to compensate for the inevitable grind that you get stuck in for titles like these. Where some titles use engaging stories, a little more variety in game systems, or even fair doses of humor to smooth things over Stranded Sails feels a bit too rote and generic, lacking that polish of charm. Still, if you’ve got the itch for building things up and getting your ship’s crew back on its feet it can be satisfying.