Thursday, December 19

Mini Reviews: December 19th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The Talos Principle [Nindie Choice!] - Among the indie titles that I’ve played and loved on the PC there aren’t too many that still haven’t made their way to Switch. With the release of The Talos Principle the list continues to get smaller. This is a first-person puzzler that features a variety of smart brain teasers that will challenge you to take some relatively simple mechanics and run with them in order to progress. Throw in a fair amount of philosophy, reflections on humanity, and well-hidden secrets and it’s a very approachable game just about anyone should be able to enjoy. Just be prepared for some bouts of frustration along the way as the expectation is you’ll ponder and work through new situations by working things out, there doesn’t tend to be much hand holding to get you up to speed.

Cardpocalypse [Nindie Choice!] - While deck building and battling games were never something I got into physically, I’ll admit that in the digital space they’ve managed to get me pretty hooked. While we’re still somehow waiting on the well-known Hearthstone to make its way to Switch (I hope), with smart titles like Cardpocalypse available it hasn’t been too painful to wait. What makes the title notable is the schoolyard RPG aspect of it, where you’ll play the new kid in town trying to make friends and build a solid deck along the way. If you’re just looking to get down to business you’ll have the option to do that as well to a degree, but the joy here is in navigating Jess through the travails of Elementary School clique politics with some smart deck building and opportunities for customization along the way.

Williams Pinball: Volume 5 [Nindie Choice!] - As a self-avowed lover of pinball, especially anything to do with classic Williams tables, I’m perpetually excited to see what new tables the folks at Zen Studios have converted this time. In the case of Volume 5 they may actually have delivered a pack with no clear tag-along table of weaker renown, all 3 are well-known and highly-regarded, if not necessarily at the top of the food chain. I’d consider Tales of the Arabian Nights to be the strongest entry in the bunch, offering satisfying ramp play, great effects and sound, and overall just a satisfying experience. Next there’s No Good Gofers, a popular table inspired by the Caddyshack movies. While it was never a table I loved it undoubtedly has character, a sense of humor, and offers a challenge, though the overall “flow” of the table wasn’t something I ever got in tune with. Last, but not least, there’s Cirqus Voltaire, an incredibly flash table with a very distinctive personality and design but one I always felt has a very “hungry” center opening. Perhaps the only thing I’d consider a letdown, though it is pretty tangential, is that the enhancements made to the tables overall feel more lacking in substance than some more recent packs. They look nice and jazz things up a little but they’re making no improvement of substance to play. Still, since that feature isn’t something everyone appreciates anyway it does little to detract from the overall quality of this new pack.

Event Horizon: Space Defense - If you’re looking for a space shooter with a decent dose of strategy thrown into the mix this may be an option for you. While you’re able to control one ship you can move around with to engage enemy fighters as you progress you’ll be able to get new craft, hire other pilots to help you out, and upgrade your space station itself with improved defenses. The problem is that in general the interfaces and how things flow are just plain clunky and little explanation is offered up to help you come to terms with it all. You’ll just end up noodling around in the menus and experimenting to figure out what’s available to you and then work out what’s best to do through trial and error. If the overall experience were more rewarding perhaps there’d be a payoff to that investment but there’s just no stand-out aspect to the game, across the board at best it’s just acceptable at best.

GENSOU SkyDrift - While I’m a fan of games that are weird or unusual there’s definitely still a need for the underlying gameplay to be solid in order for the experience to have merit. Obviously inspired by Mario Kart Double Dash, SkyDrift has elements of that series that are easily recognizable and some of the settings and tracks even feel vaguely familiar. What’s missing is any sort of nuance or charm though as mechanically the racing itself is clunky, the power-ups are generally lackluster and unintuitive, and the experience as a whole is a bit of a head scratcher. You can compete locally or online (I don’t imagine this particular game will fare well in the longevity department but could be wrong) as well as take on the Campaign mode but it’s honestly overall a pretty bland affair. Perhaps Touhou or more general fans of anime may like the quirkiness of it all but from a pure gameplay perspective there are better Mario Kart-alikes on the system.