Thursday, October 24

Mini Reviews: October 24th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Overwatch [AAA Choice!] - While I don’t think most people likely need to be told, Overwatch is a pretty thoroughly impressive game. But what’s most shocking is how well it plays on the Switch. This is a title that people had serious doubt about in terms of how it would perform, and even moreso than some of the other impressively ported top-tier games that have come to the console Overwatch stands almost a head above everyone else. While it may be trimmed and pulled back in ways people who’ve played it on other systems may notice, it looks great and generally performs incredibly well, including little but vital things like gyro aiming that are spot on.

Where people may be divided is in the gameplay itself, which is heavily geared towards teamwork, at times in almost an oppressive way. Unlike its competition which generally will let teams roll however they like, even when sometimes laughably unbalanced, Overwatch wants a set number of people to fall into each key role, though at least there are enough characters in each that you can move the dial around a little bit. The result is what in many ways feels like a blending of the FPS and MOBA genres, full of quick action but perhaps a bit more stiff and structured than some run and gunners may appreciate. While perhaps it may be more ideal to play it on another system from a big picture perspective, to be honest the Switch version feels minimally compromised and plays incredibly well.

Megaquarium [Nindie Choice!] - Simulation/building games have always been a genre I think of the PC for in general, and indeed many have their roots there. While they can be ported over to consoles, more often than not the PC-based core tends to be very noticeable and a mix of clunky menus and controls hamper the experience with a controller. Megaquarium exhibits practially none of those issues, is both intuitive and controller-friendly as a whole, and if you’ve been itching to get your build on it may be just what you’ve been looking for. The goal is to take on an aquarium that’s either new or in need of help, get your tanks and gear to support them set up, manage the aquatic and vegetative life in each, and then oversee the expansion and maintenance of it all to keep it growing and thriving. While perhaps lacking in the extra thrill you can get from something like Rollercoaster Tycoon this is still a very competent and rewarding sim, and it scratches an itch I’ve had on the system for a while now nicely.

Starblox Inc [Nindie Choice!] - With iconic titles like Tetris, Puyo Puyo, Lumines, and others out there in the action puzzle genre it can be a tricky business to establish yourself. Too often games fall into the trap of seeming to start with a base mimicking one of these classics and then settling for being a variation on that theme. Starblox Inc tackles originality by blending genres, in this case by pairing with fighting, and the result may not be for everyone but it’s at least fresh and different. You and your opponent will each have your own puzzle to work on and will try to grab pieces that are falling and then quickly arrange them to complete matches. Where the challenge comes in is that instead of working on the puzzles in isolation and then triggering attacks on each other you’ll be attacking each other directly as you try to vie for pieces. In many ways it’s a subtle change but the resultant gameplay is pretty different in an often aggressive way. Granted, this is either a mechanic you’ll embrace or be less enthused with, but you’ve got to give credit for shaking up the norm.

Sea Salt - Real-time strategy at one time was an absolutely huge genre in the gaming community, with the likes of the Command and Conquer and Warcraft/StarCraft leading the pack, but that has been mostly dormant for quite some time. I traditionally think of it as a PC genre as well, but for the most part thankfully using a controller usually doesn’t seem like a major impediment. In the case of Sea Salt while you won’t be worrying over resource collection (a positive in my book), you will be managing a pack of dark minions of various types trying to exact punishment as a vengeful sea god who has seen their followers betray them. The resulting gameplay is a mixture of strategy, tension, and sometimes amusement as you’ll need to be smart about how you manage and add to your flock to avoid a variety of traps, characters with special attacks, and what are typically tricky boss battles. While I wouldn’t say it jumps out as an experience that anyone will enjoy this genre isn’t widely represented on the console and among them this may be the most satisfying of its brethren, though I may be biased as I like the dark carnage this offers up as your minions rip through the unfaithful.

Just Ignore Them - Unfortunately this ends up being yet another title in what feels like a pattern of games with scary and/or creepy themes that delivers stale and uninspired gameplay. This ultimately plays out as a point and click adventure, where you’ll be trying to keep your character alive and progressing in order to advance what story there is. The issue is that the scares are limited, the progression is painfully linear, and the experience as a whole is incredibly bland. If you’re willing to gut it out you may find there to be some worthwhile reward to the experience but with such a large library of superior games calling it’s hard to justify bothering with this one.