Tuesday, October 22

Mini Reviews: October 22nd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

A Hat in Time [Nindie Choice!] - When it comes to 3D platformers and you’re looking to release on the console that Mario helped make you’d better be ready to deliver. A Hat in Time has a cute look and certainly some strange situations and characters which helps to serve as a solid base. Where platforming is concerned while it doesn’t quite reach the level of polish (and in places, performance) that Nintendo’s mascot mustachioed plumber hits there’s no doubt that it is swinging for the fences at every step. This includes some control mechanics and level designs that deviate from what you’ve come to expect and in particular that aspect is one I appreciate about the title. The density of secrets and things to collect on any given level can be a bit overwhelming, and early on I wasn’t always sure when I was supposed to be trying to collect them (it adheres to the Mario 64 template of focused missions to complete per run), but more often than not the experience left me with a smile on my face to be playing a new platformer with a different style and sense of humor that felt rewarding. While a patch to file down some rough spots would be ideal I’m glad I’ve finally played a new platformer series that gets more right than wrong and am hoping to see more of it in the future.

Battle Planet: Judgement Day - As a huge arcade-style twin-stick roguelike shooter fan this is a title planted firmly in my wheelhouse. Feeling a bit like arcade shooter meets Super Mario Galaxy, the space for fighting enemies and disarming bombs is always a bit limited so you’ll need to quickly get your bearings and keep on the move, taking advantage of the terrain whenever you can or at least trying to avoid areas with things like lava to try to keep yourself out of trouble. Progression across runs is supported, thankfully, so there can be a bit of a grind until you feel like you’re more in control of things but that’s par for the roguelike course. Each of the 3 characters does play a bit differently so you’ll likely settle into a favorite and then work to max them out, and if you’re able to play with a friend you can really eat up the competition working to complement each other strategically. While there’s nothing in particular that absolutely drives this to the top of my list for the genre (keeping in mind there are quite a number of amazing titles that serve as competition) I love Battle Planet’s change of pace and style and would happily recommend it if you think it looks like it would suit your tastes.

Into The Dead 2 - This is one of those titles where you generate quite a bit of excitement and anticipation going in (“Zombie game! Bring it”) and then manage to enjoy yourself a bit while grumbling a bit in disappointment nonetheless. With a too-high price point and mobile roots while this endless run-and-gun zombie shooter can be fun the contained, on-rails, and grindy nature of it all doesn’t feel very good on a dedicated gaming console to be honest. I have no doubt the physical controls may make playing the game more comfortable but in particular playing this on a large screen feels weird and unnecessary, the core gameplay simply isn’t very complex and for multiple reasons (overall ease, quick runs, limited gameplay scope) if I’m looking for this sort of experience I think playing on my phone would be more ideal… and likely cheaper in the end since it wouldn’t take too long to get my fill. It is worth noting that if you're into the gameplay and love movie nostalgia there are also Ghostbusters and Night of the Living DLC available to enhance the game as well for an additional price.

ZikSquare - New ideas and ways to approach gameplay are always welcome but there’s no doubt they’re a bit of a risky proposition. You can see the effort and desire behind ZikSquare, to build a dynamic platforming experience with a direct tie to accompanying music. The attempt is an admirable one but the resulting gameplay is unfortunately a bit on the shaky side. Visually there's certainly a lack of polish but more critically though the number of moves you have to work with is relatively limited there's just a bit of roughness to it as well that can at times be frustrating. If you're a creative type who would enjoy the prospect of creating your own levels and music the added mode that allows you to do just that may be enough to make it worthwhile, but if you're just in it for the platforming you'll likely end up being disappointed.

Where the Bees Make Honey - Art is inherently in the eye of the beholder and that certainly carries over into interpretation of game design. Not all games are meant to appeal to everyone, and ideally there should be an audience out there for just about every possible kind of experience. In the case of this title, though, I'm struggling to identify who that would be. Inconsistent, quite short, too often clunky, and with a layer of what can feel like pretension trying to act like there's some grand point it is trying to make this is a weird kitchen sink experience of a game. If somehow that sounds interesting to you be sure to check out the gameplay video to give it a look, this is one of the more odd (and not in a good way) titles I've explored on the console.