Wednesday, December 11

Mini Reviews: November 21st Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Children of Morta [Nindie Choice!] - While I have played (and generally enjoyed) a ton of roguelikes of all flavors on the Switch I can’t say any of them has been quite like Children of Morta. Played from a top-down perspective and with a serious dungeon crawling style it’s challenging, has an absolutely fantastic art style, and features multiple character classes to play that are each viable and have distinctive feels. The run-to-run progression, opportunities that represent risk and/or reward, and unpredictability of precisely what you may face are all on point as well but what pushes the game the extra mile for me are the quick but poignant story threads you’ll slowly encounter as you get further in. At its core this is a game with family themes and beats and for me it really amplified the connection I have to both the game and its characters. That extra degree of care is uncommon in the genre and it really elevates it to the top tier of roguelikes. If you’re down to grit your teeth a bit and eat it on one run and then find success by the skin of your teeth the next Children of Morta is a terrific example of what roguelikes are capable of in talented hands.

Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game [Nindie Choice!] - While deck building and card battling games have made their appearance on the Switch in a few different forms, none of them has been quite like this. A common approach is for these titles to go the “freemium” route with things like loot boxes, random drops, and incentives to invest some money to improve your chances. Instead, LotRACG opts for an up-front price where you’ll have access to everything and will be able to build your deck strategically as you progress rather than having to figure out how best to work with that new hot drop you got that doesn’t fit well into any of your decks. Of course, the other massive leg up this title has is the benefit of grounding in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, with characters, races, creatures, and stories both familiar and new. If the slow burn of deck building and strategy are in your wheelhouse you’ll want to give this title a look as it shows both polish and care, opening the door to plenty of challenging and rewarding play.

Bee Simulator - Blending together elements of flying games, exploration, some mini game action, and perhaps a bit of overly-aggressive environmentalist themes Bee Simulator is a unique experience. Working as a single member of a greater hive you’ll get a feel for the life bees live from the inside, working to collect nectar, rumble with competing insects every once in awhile, and engage in an occasional dance perhaps to share the location of some premium flowers. For the most part it’s a light affair, though I’ll note that quite often race sequences seem strangely out of balance in their difficulty compared to other tasks and younger or less experienced gamers may well find them frustrating. I’m noting that challenge disparity primarily because outside of those race sequences this is an easily accessible and friendly title whose attempts to educate and enlighten (while I’d argue perhaps heavy-handed) are appreciated. While it may not ultimately have a great deal of variety, and its story doesn’t last terribly long, it’s most certainly a unique title unlike just about anything else on the system.

World Rally Championship 8 - Racing games are a bit of an uncommon sight on the Switch eShop and something even further into the niche realm, in the form of rally racing, are truly a rarity. If you’re a fan of more simulation in your racing WRC8 tries to satisfy, and many of the hallmarks of the rally racing genre are here with a multitude of tracks, racing conditions, and off-the-track elements that will let you try to tune your racer to suit you. If you’re planning to play it docked while it works admirably to keep the framerate steady without a ton of compromises there can be rough edges at times, which are often unfortunate as those moments tend to be where you need to be in control to avoid losing precious seconds. If you’re hoping to play it primarily on the go in handheld mode things deteriorate quite a bit though and it gets into a mess of blurred textures and pop-up as the system struggles to keep things moving the best it can but falters. Unfortunately if you’re itching for a rally racing fix on Switch this will likely be your best (since it’s almost the only) option, but there’s no denying it has some serious potholes you’ll need to be ready to deal with.

Rocket Wars - Games like Rocket Wars are honestly getting hard to review without a bit of a jaded tone. I’m thrilled that this modern era and indie developers have helped to revive local multiplayer into being more fun with a variety of options to choose from but at the same time having played so many it’s hard not to note so many of them have become hard to differentiate. While Rocket Wars plays well and at least features a few more interesting modes like one where you’ll work to defend your goal while destroying the ones belonging to your competitors there’s just not a lot otherwise setting it apart. You’ll fly, try to collect power-ups, attempt to work some technique to conquer your foes… and then see who the winner is, and that’s nice, but there’s really nothing else fresh that it offers that will give it longevity. The price is at least right, just if you’re in the market for a game like this be sure to review your options since there are several out there in the same general space.