Tuesday, November 5

Mini Reviews: November 5th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 [AAA Choice!] - Going way back to the days of playing games with friends on my Commodore 64 I’ve always enjoyed Olympic-style multi-event games. Back then it was the Summer/Winter/World Games series by Epyx at home complemented by arcade hits like Track & Field or HyperSports. The variety of play, the element of mastery to getting the timing and technique down for every event, and the outright competitive spirit when playing against friends or trying to beat high scores was always a blast. Now, when it comes to modern versions of these titles, even the Mario & Sonic series to date, things have been hit and miss. Sure, for the die hards these mini game collections are a staple for local multiplayer bragging rights, but for me there’s just been something lacking at times that sapped my enthusiasm.

That all changes with this year’s incarnation inspired by the upcoming Tokyo 2020 games. Sega has come at this title with guns blazing and checks a ton of boxes successfully. Great and diverse Olympic events, a pretty lengthy and terrific single-player Story mode (which includes additional mini games), retro-styled 2D events that emulate the classics, sometimes off-the-wall Dream Events that demonstrate even more creativity… this is a maximum effort title that offers so much sheer variety that just about anyone should be able to have some fun. While there’s no doubt not all events will appeal to everyone, which any collection of mini games suffers from, the typical support for multiple control schemes and different approaches to how events work in general signify Sega’s commitment to doing everything they could to do right by its fans. In a category where over the years I’ve become pretty jaded this title has absolutely restored my enthusiasm for the genre, and I’m looking forward to the same team attacking the Winter Games in 2 years.

Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan [Nindie Choice!] - Going old school can be a risky proposition at times, but when it is done right the results can be rewarding as well as nostalgic (at least for people like me). Sydney Hunter is an action platformer with a retro 8-bit look and at times a degree of challenge also reminiscent of days gone by. Your job is to explore, avoid traps and creatures who’ll do you harm, and pretty well to always be on the lookout for cracked blocks that you can swipe to reveal hidden collectibles. If you’re not good at spotting such blocks the game unfortunately gets significantly more frustrating as it will make you backtrack far more, and that’s not so fun. However, if you’ve got the itch to grab your whip and tackle thirteen stages of ancient temples in search of fortune and glory it’s a retro romp well worth checking out.

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King - An opening admission (and perhaps given my age this will be shocking), of all the SNES-era games I played in my college years I don’t believe these two were among them. That said, with so many contemporaries and fans out there who I know hold them in high regard I was very curious to check this collection out. Without the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia my impression of them is first and foremost that maybe even moreso than the typical re-released game these are products of their time. While you can quickly get the hang of the rules of play for both you’re really just dropped into playing, and in particular in the case of The Lion King I was a bit baffled at what I was even supposed to be doing at first. Not a big deal, just worth noting. The degree of what felt like cheap design, with the game whittling down your health at times using unfair means, was a bit more annoying but obviously with some repetition you’ll get through it. It’s just a classic tactic for artificially making the game longer I’ve never been a fan of. In the end, these are older games you’ll either embrace as is or find dated in their design and execution. If you hold nostalgia for them this is absolutely a terrific collection, packed with not just the base games but additional version from other platforms and other value added content I really appreciate from an archival standpoint. It’s a solid pair of titles, its ultimate value will very much differ from person to person though.

Creepy Brawlers - When you decide to set your sights on making a retro game in the vein of a classic like Punch-Out, even when we’re talking about a budget title, it’s a tricky proposition. Fans of the NES classic who enjoyed the mixture of action and ultimately puzzle-solving while engaging a variety of enemies in the ring will pretty well instantly understand what they’re looking at. In place of the strange array of international fighters though, in this case you’ll be dealing with an assortment of movie monsters of various kinds. The result does work, and can be fun, but there’s also no missing that it’s not a very polished experience. There’s just something with the responsiveness that feels just a hair slow and in places the game feels picky. That said, for the most part this is a style of play nobody else has dared to touch, so the mix of the horror movie theming and variations on a classic title may be just what you’re looking for when the price of admission is so humble.

Delta Squad - As a self-proclaimed super-fan of twin-stick shooters any title that looks like it could scratch that itch is immediately of interest. In the case of Delta Squad that enthusiasm unfortunately left pretty quickly. Your goal is to save the world, blah blah, and in order to do that you’ll need to work your way through meandering and non-descript levels shooting zombies, foot soldiers, heavy guns, and more. You’ll have the choice of which unit type you’ll be working with, though while they do differ none of them will help the game get any more exciting and rewarding. For a twin-stick shooter the enemies are not plentiful and the action is lacking. Your biggest challenges will often be to stationary guns that hit hard, and are often arranged near each other to complicate matters. The thing is, the experience is all stick and no carrot. If there were a clear gameplay pot of gold at the end of the somewhat clunky rainbow that is playing this game it could be worth sticking it out… but there just isn’t. Given the competition in this space at all price points this Delta Squad is only suitable for cannon fodder.