Tuesday, December 24

Mini Reviews: December 24th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Demon’s Tilt [Nindie Choice!] - Pinball is absolutely a cornerstone of retro gaming so I’m always excited to see what people come up with to celebrate it. Normally my preferences tend to run to loving recreations of classic physical tables but in the tradition of even some Nintendo titles over the years “video pinball” has a legitimate place as well. Demon’s Tilt is very much a game with that style in mind, featuring elements that could never happen in physical form, but still adhering to familiar core mechanics to put together a unique and often challenging experience. Granted, there’s only this one scrolling main table, though it does have alternative play areas and plenty to learn, but it’s going to take some time and experimentation to tease out all of its secrets. While it can be a challenge to keep track of the ball when the action gets quick and intense Demon’s Tilt offers up a pretty intense and unique experience on Switch and is easy to recommend to any retro gaming fans out there.

Farabel - Strategy games are woefully under-represented on the Switch but perhaps the bigger issue is the lack of high-quality entries for the genre. Farabel takes a stab at shaking things up with some time-shifting and an odd mechanic where rather than leveling up you’ll start at the top and need to choose how to downgrade yourself as you progress. Perhaps it all would work better if the base strategic play was more tactical or interesting but overall it all feels pretty bland and ordinary, regardless of what unfortunately just amount to gimmicks seemingly put in place to distract from that fact. If you’re hard-pressed it offers some light strategy, it just isn’t terribly satisfying.

Clumsy Rush - Try to imagine what two hippos racing each other on only two legs would look like… it likely wouldn’t be pretty. Going with that base concept, and sporting controls that are appropriately wonky and a challenge to come to terms with, we have Clumsy Rush. Your goal? To get to the finish line in possession of the crown. Your tools? The ability to independently move your left and right legs (using the shoulder buttons) and a dash… though if you want to keep the crown on that isn’t an option since you’ll drop it. The result will be you and a friend either laughing out loud at the maddeningly streaky nature of trying to simply move in a straight line or the sound of controllers being smashed from frustration. This is absolutely a hit or miss title that isn’t terribly complex but hit the target it was aiming for by simply being silly and unique.

Regions of Ruin - Conceptually Regions of Ruin has the elements of what could be a rewarding and deep mix of RPG and city building mechanics. Unfortunately, the linchpin for your success is going around to collect resources which will require you battling it out with a variety of enemies as you explore. That’s where things begin to fall apart a bit, or at least get aggravating and repetitive. Combat has a small degree of tactics to it as you’ll need to get comfortable with when to block, dodge, counter, or attack, but in a variety of situations you feel extremely ill-suited to success. The conversion over from the PC space that it seems more intended for is also bumpy, with a fair number of interfaces that are confusing, clunky, and poorly explained even for vital things like moving between locations. The experience just feels incomplete or in need of some serious patching before it can hope to meet its promise. There’s something to enjoy here if you’re determined but the obstacles to enjoyment are aggravating.

XenoRaptor - As a huge fan of shooters, the twin-stick variety in particular, XenoRaptor on paper is absolutely up my alley. Hitting the Campaign mode you’ll work through waves of varied enemy fighters and some bosses, unlocking various upgrades and alternative weapons you can use to customize your ship. The weapons you have to choose from are pretty varied and once you get rolling you should be able to find a combination that suits your style. The issues are all in the gameplay though, though it’s hard to put a finger on how to describe them. There’s just a weird sort of jankiness to movement of both your own ship and those of your enemies, it’s almost like a periodic stutter you see in both your radar and as they fly around. At times the boss battles can be aggravating when they’ll hit you from off the screen, having visibility that’s obviously better than yours. With some of the weapons there’s just sort of a delay in their execution which affects accuracy, forcing you to lead enemies somewhat weirdly in order to connect. There’s just an unrefined quality to the game that doesn’t quite work here, and given the quantity of higher-quality shooters of all types on Switch it’s hard to recommend this one.