Monday, November 25

Mini Reviews: November 25th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Black Future ‘88 - Roguelike shooters have been a staple for me on the Switch, generally providing a great outlet for intense play for some period of time that will feel familiar to a degree but ever-changing. Typically these games tend to be top-down affairs but in the case of Black Future ‘88 you’ll be taking on a cyberpunk and pretty bleak world full of robots and inevitable death. There are undoubtedly elements that work very well here, the visual style and weapon variety are both exceptional, multiple base classes offer up pretty different feels to keep your runs fresh, and the fact that biologically you’re literally racing against the clock representing your demise will keep you moving. Where it falls down a bit is most often visual clarity. Between occasional elements moving in the foreground and just a lack of clarity in the action when a lot is going on at once it can be pretty easy to lose a truckload of health or even die without really knowing what the cause was. That’s not to say it isn’t hella fun,it just adds to a general frustration factor due to death often being quick and perhaps the reason behind it being a bit too ambiguous.

Squidgies Takeover - Billed as a mix between Lemmings and some physics Squidgies Takeover is a smart and pretty entertaining puzzler that’s also a nice change of pace from the norm for the genre on the system. While you can play it in docked mode with the pointer controls I’d very much recommend against it as the persistent hardware issues causing the need to recalibrate often are present as always and since this title is concerned with precision it isn’t a good match. The great news is that in handheld mode using the touchscreen is a breeze and allows you to enjoy the game as it is meant to be. Initially levels are focused on walking you through the concepts of how you’re able to utilize each power and when, helping you hone your timing and understanding of what will need to be done later. From there it’s all about timing, some planning, and then plain old execution to make effective use of the commands you have to work with to get you on the path to sustained success.

Biolab Wars - When considering ultra-low budget titles it’s hard not to grade a bit on a sliding scale as impulse buys are often what they are to people, there’s a hope it works out but if not there wasn’t much lost to get it. With a look and feel reminiscent of the old NES days, Biolab Wars is an old school side-scrolling shooter with sensibilities that often feel more representative of that era than the current one. You’ll run, gun, collect power-ups, try to avoid enemy fire, and can expect to die relatively often. Not much here is what I’d consider inspired or even polished but that isn’t to say if you’re in the right mindset you can’t have a pretty good time with it. If you’ve been itching for a variation on classic shooting themes and are willing to part with a few paltry bucks this may be enough to entertain you for a little while.

Contraptions - With a hook that appears to have been inspired by a combination of Rube Goldberg machines and the classic Incredible Machine franchise we now have Contraptions for puzzle fans to enjoy. Using a slowly growing collection of gadgets in conjunction with the level environment your goal will be to string together a series of events that will trigger the completion of the level, which can take a few different forms. Placement, direction, and proper timing will all play a crucial role in your ability to size up the challenge in front of you, conceive what solutions there may be, and then work it out through trial and error. The lack of general visual polish and the sometimes wonky behaviors of element in the game can be a frustration, but in general it gets the creative juices flowing and will let you practice building hypothesis and then testing them out until you find the solution.

Mars Power Industries - Given the sheer number of great puzzle titles of all shapes and sizes as well as asking prices in order to make a real impression in genre on Switch you have to be swinging for the fences and either doing something new or doing it in a way that stands out. Unfortunately in the case of the pretty humble and even basic Mars Power Industries they’re not doing much of either. Tasked with powering up stations on the planet’s surface using the surrounding resources you’ll have only so many turns to deploy equipment shaped in specific configurations. Your job is to figure out what to put when so you can rest assured that the colonists will be safe and happy, then move on to the next puzzle. On a general level it’s not bad, it’s just hard not to note how generally simplistic it all is, making it likely a poor choice for genre die hards on the Switch.