Monday, January 20

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

Deponia Doomsday - If you’re a big fan of the bygone heyday of the point and click adventure games the Deponia trilogy is well worth checking out. This second chapter in the series takes a pretty different path, one that throws time travel into the mix with generally humorous results. The dialogue tree options remain as unexpected and often silly as the classic LucasArts games, encouraging you to sometimes shoot from the hip just to see what can happen, which is fun. If there’s a complaint I’d say that getting “lost” is a bit more likely in this middle chapter as the areas you have access to can get quite large and the elements you’ll need are then spread out. It does keep things from feeling too linear but it also makes it likely you’ll be checking a guide at some point to get your bearings.

Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha - There’s no doubt the Switch has become the ideal platform for retro and throwback titles of all kinds. Not only is portability a plus but for the modest investment needed to pick up a FlipGrip the ability to enjoy vertically-oriented arcade titles as they were intended is pretty satisfying. In the case of this collection of 6 titles you’ve got an odd blend of diversity and more of the same. Half of the pack’s 6 games are from the Strikers 1945 trilogy and represent the classic shooter experience. Each of the other 3 are pretty wildly different, with 2 titles (Sol Divide and Dragon Blaze) experimenting with alternative styles of play that are definitely a mixed bag. The last, Zero Gunner 2, is the only title played in a horizontal orientation and charts its own path with enemies coming from all directions and sporting unusual controls where you’ll essentially use one button to set a pivot point so you can shoot in a circle. It’s different, for sure, but seemingly would have been so much easier and better as a twin-stick shooter. If you’re a fan of classic vertically-scrolling arcade shooter goodness, and perhaps if you’ve got a bit of an open mind for weird variations on the formula, this should at least satisfy with some surprises.

Jump Gunners - Local multiplayer shooters are a bit of a dime a dozen on the Switch so it can be hard to make an impression and stand out in the space. Jump Gunners does at least manage to do that, featuring a number of weapons, an additional layer of challenge and strategy with the benefits and downsides of recoil, and even a few single-player modes. Where it runs into some problems are the inconsistencies in the experience, with some stages working better than others and a tendency to be hard to follow at times as it tries to zoom in and out on the action. Also, while the single-player modes are a nice value add, the one even prompting a smile with elements of Duck Hunt, they’re also not likely to provide much in the long term. As a package it has its place, and plays better than the more generic fare in the space, but its mileage will vary depending on your tastes.

Self - It’s always interesting to see games used as a medium for storytelling and in the case of Self rather than working through a pre-destined story to reach a static conclusion you’ll find that it has many branching paths to encourage replay to discover its different outcomes. Alternating between text-driven story beats where you’ll have to make some key decisions and simplistic mini game sequences that feel inspired by Undertale the experience is a bit of a mixed bag. What’s a bit frustrating is that the minimalist game sequences, which generally just consist of you trying to dodge different themed elements, really just end up feeling like filler and if anything pulled me out of the story which is compelling. If you’re up for something a bit off-center with the text-based story driving the experience rather than the action it may be of interest.

Demolish & Build - Oof. I dislike being outright negative about titles since there can be an audience for just about anything but when the overall package and experience are this janky it’s hard to pull the punches. Poor visuals can be overcome with great gameplay but the title looking like something from the N64/PS1 era with abundant fog, clipping, and pop-in does not get it off to a great start. The fact that your tasks aren’t terribly thrilling, knocking down walls or breaking things up with a sledgehammer loses its appeal quickly, and the in-game direction on what it is wanting you to do is generally poor just locks in the bad taste generally. Sometimes budget titles can be a pleasant surprise but this isn’t one of those times.