Thursday, November 14

Mini Reviews: November 14th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Sparklite [Nindie Choice!] - Since I’m a huge fan of roguelikes and their ability to revitalize and alter how you play more classic genres I’ve always wondered how it would pair with the Legend of Zelda series. One successful crack at it was Swords of Ditto, which featured of classic elements and smart ideas but to me was a little more long form and determined to be a bit weird in how it implemented some elements like combat. Sparklite takes a far more traditional track, working with weapons and mechanics much more directly reminiscent of the Zelda series and keeping the world a bit more compact, generally making for quicker runs if nothing else. Once you get your bearings and understand how elements like badges work (letting you dictate which tweaks and enhancements you want to use to help you out, they’re varied and extremely vital to your success) you’ll be off to face a pretty stiff challenge, especially in the early going.

Exploration and getting into a groove for understanding what you should prioritize on your runs is crucial to cutting down on time wasted. Mini dungeons where you’re assured a new badge or a fair reward of Sparklite should take priority, you should develop a sixth sense for which boulders may have a cave hidden under them, and acquiring new blueprints to craft new gadgets should always take priority. From there it will be a matter of your tastes and your level of skill. Just be ready, until you’re sufficiently geared up to take on the bosses (especially early on), you’re likely to get a bit frustrated. Some quibbles over the somewhat clunky menu, no provision for a more easily available mini map, and other nuisances can creep in at times but there’s no doubt that this is a high-quality adventure that’s challenging, inventive, and rewarding.

Dead By Daylight - Conceptually I’m a big fan of asymmetric multiplayer, and am always eager to see how another team has tried to tackle this tricky formula. Taking on the role of either the killer or one of the “potential survivors” in a horror movie-like setting is a smart twist and obviously one everyone can already relate to. In the case of Dead By Daylight the execution is a bit on the simpler side that the previously released Friday the 13th which operated similarly but locked into using Jason Voorhees in his many incarnations as the killer. Here instead you’ll have an assortment of killer templates to choose from as well as some licensed options if you’re willing to pay for them like Ghostface or Michael Myers as examples. As the killer you’ll be looking to leverage your core and special skills (which vary) to help find and dispatch wayward teens. As one of the pursued your focus will be on evasion, trying to keep each other alive, and fixing generators that will eventually provide for an exit to your torment. To throw in a little extra challenge there can be timed button press skill tests to keep it from being just a matter of waiting but once you’re used to them they don’t add too much to the mix. Since this game is 100% reliant on the online Switch community to keep alive you’ll need to carefully consider whether it is likely to sustain itself unless you have a group of reliable friends to play with though.

Planescape: Torment / Icewind Dale - Much like the pairing of Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II, released at the same time as this pack, the most likely audience for these titles will be veteran gamers who remember playing these on PC back in the day. In the case of Planescape: Torment the format is quite different, with everything happening in a much different place and the action being more character-centric rather than party. Icewind Dale, on the other hand, is far more similar to the likes of Baldur’s Gate in its execution and play. While the attempt to adapt these titles for play on the consoles is admirable there’s no missing the clunkiness of the control systems and some of the graphics. Scaling can be odd, text in particular isn’t very crisp (I wouldn’t recommend it played in handheld mode unless your lighting and eyesight are pretty great), and there are obviously more smooth modern experiences. That said, if you’re itching to revisit these classics or are curious to see why they’re so revered the content is still there to make them worthwhile.

Haunted Halloween 86 - This title and Creepy Brawlers are interesting, games made now for the NES directly that are playable on the Switch. Working within the constraints of what is possible we now have games that are throwbacks both technologically and in terms of style but that have a few modern sensibilities thrown in. That modern twist, in the case of Haunted Halloween 86, is a more elaborate move set that you have available, with you additionally being able to dictate which moves you want to make available to yourself to help you in your side-scrolling adventure. From there this is a pretty straight up old school platformer, offering up a variety of creepy environments and an assortment of challenges. If you’re a huge fan of that era in many regards this feels like it fits right in and should be a treat.

Football Game - Being honest I’m starting to tire of games like Football Game that try to gloss over being designed in a very limited and linear fashion with some anticipated promise of a payoff down the line. Very quickly it’s clear that things aren’t quite right with your character’s mental state and that things have happened. That thread is supposed to entice you to continue to pull and unravel the full story. Unfortunately, the point and click adventure elements to get you there are so dull and by the numbers you’ll need to carefully consider whether any payoff will really be worth your wasted time with subpar play.