Friday, December 20

Mini Reviews: December 20th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Jamestown+ [Nindie Choice!] - The Switch has most certainly been blessed with a wide variety of excellent shmups since its release and with the release of Jamestown+ there’s now another strong contender on the pile. With an unusual alt-history story, a variety of unlockable ships whose style changes the gameplay pretty substantially, and a very consistent challenge no matter what the stage it really delivers. For some added fun and challenge throw a few friends onto the pile and it can make for a screen full of chaos and fun, for sure. If your tendencies are towards a more classic arcade shooting experience, moreso than its competition Jamestown+ has elements that are fresh but are still very rooted in  that overall feel, and it very much delivers reliably consistent and challenging gameplay to boot.

Travel Mosaics: A Paris Tour [Nindie Choice!] - Even as consistently as indie titles have managed to surprise me, there are times when I’m almost taken aback by a title out of left field. If you’re a puzzle game fan you’re probably familiar with the Picross franchise, and the satisfying gameplay it offers. There have been some challengers in the same sort of space but to this point nobody has been able to break free of the pack in terms of innovation and polish. For me, Travel Mosaics is the total crasher of that party and not only packs in wonderfully polished presentation quality for a budget price, but knocks it out of the park with large and challenging puzzles, a smart power-up system, and a smooth overall control experience even as you toggle between colors. Puzzle fans, you won’t want to miss this one.

Demon Pit - Aside from some AA and AAA conversions, the first-person shooting genre hasn’t seen a tremendous amount of representation on the Switch to date. There are a few titles here and there to pick over but none of them have really stood out as clear top-tier experiences. Though Demon Pit has a promising look and feel, reminiscent of the classic Quake franchise, its repetitive and pretty simple overall arena survival format can only scratch the FPS itch for so long. To be sure, the grapple mechanics and need to keep moving and be aware of the ever-changing area you’re in can be satisfying, but it pretty quickly becomes clear that there’s simply not a ton of content driving the experience. Fun in bursts or if you’re a determined leaderboard climber, but not too much more.

Tamashii - When it comes to games packing in some weirdness on the Switch I’m typically a big fan. But a tendency towards the bizarre or disturbing isn’t enough in itself, the gameplay still needs to deliver to make it work. In the case of Tamashii you can see the potential, and it is undoubtedly packed with “WTF is that?!?!” moments, but ultimately those elements of weirdness aren’t able to cover up that the mechanics and controls in this puzzle platformer just aren’t very good. There’s a definite trial and error feed to it at times, but when there’s often frustration where you know what you need to do but it can be a struggle to execute it can be aggravating. If you’re willing to endure some warts there’s a load of weirdness to be enjoyed here, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Straimium Immortaly - If you say the words “roguelike shooter” you can assume my ears will perk up and I’m down to party. Straimium Immortaly, aside from having a very unusual name and what I’d consider story text that feels like it was translated to English through a game of telephone, does manage to set itself apart with a challenging and unique style. However, contemplating the overall experience it’s hard not to consider it to be tip-toeing around being unfinished or at least in need of some serious revisions. The difficulty is all over the place, the controls can be a bit wonky, and some more useful training or a deeper tutorial would be welcome to help get things rolling. Perhaps what I find most frustrating about it, though, is that visually it is far too busy and has elements that make it hard to tell whether they may hurt you or not. After bumping into numerous objects you’d figured were part of the background and meant you no harm you’ll begin to understand the complaint. Put enough quibbles together and it becomes more of a complaint, and these collectively make it a hard experience to recommend.