Tuesday, February 11

Mini Reviews: February 11th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Knights and Bikes [Nindie Choice] - Memories from my childhood, while often involving playing games on a variety of systems or in arcades, involve a pretty heavy dose of riding my bike and trying to find ways to make exploring fun. Knights and Bikes absolutely taps into that idea, pairing the somewhat unlikely friends Demelza and Nessa on the somewhat secluded island of Penfurzy. Aside from being a bit of an odd bird you’ll find that Demelza is struggling with being raised by only her father after the death of her mother. To help cope with that the answer is a grand adventure in the spirit of the likes of The Goonies, searching for a fabled treasure while trying to thwart an ancient threat possessing the people of the island. What the game does well is blend together some novel and fun combat with a hefty dose of exploration, as well as move effectively between lighthearted silliness and more reflective emotional moments. The result is an experience that sticks with you, which with so many titles out there vying for your attention can be tough to accomplish. While it’s playable as a solo experience it really does shine in co-op, though I’ll admit a few of the puzzles can require tricky leaps of faith that can be a challenge either way. That minor gripe aside this is a game with a load of laughs, childlike wonder, and heartfelt moments that’s absolutely worth your time.

Milo’s Quest - Budget puzzle and adventure games are pretty much a dime a dozen on the Switch but what about a budget title that sort of mashes those two together? While Milo’s Quest isn’t terribly challenging it does effectively blend some box pushing, relatively simple combat, and a fair amount of exploration together in a cute package that works. For the most part this is a low-stress affair and I think the combination of elements keeps it from being as generic and dull as its contemporaries that lack the same variety. It may not have much appeal for hardened gamers but younger or more casual gamers may find it cute and charming.

Crash Drive 2 - I appreciate budget games that set out to deliver a specific sort of experience, even if not terribly ambitious, and generally hit it. The fact that the Switch is generally starved for racing games just adds to the mix, making Crash Drive a bit on the shallow side, but still fun to kick around with for a while. In general this is a sandbox stunt racer where you can roll around, do some flips, participate in some quick challenges against other players online, and generally have some simple fun. The physics are loose, the environments don’t necessarily have too much variety, and at some point you’re just working to unlock new vehicles that aren’t generally that different from one another… but it’s still a decent low-budget no frills good time if you just like goofing off for a bit.

Marooners - Taking on the local multiplayer space on the Switch is no small feat. With Mario Party sitting at the top and a host of indie competitors swarming for attention it takes some effort to distance yourself from the pack. Marooners, in principle, manages to do something fresh which I applaud. Sort of taking the ADHD route to setup rather than needing to go through the slow and perhaps more boring structure of a game board or participating in single events it shotguns you through a series of them, that you’re able to even effectively randomize, and if a specific sequence is taking too long it won’t hesitate to put that on pause, move to another, and come back to resume where it left off later. Of course you can opt to make things a little more structured and predictable but the option to keep things chaotic is something unique that I appreciate. While I like the overall structure I’m less enthused on a case by case basis with the mini games themselves. Quite simply there isn’t enough depth or variety to them, too often they devolve into people running around trying to grab coins, avoid obstacles, and perhaps knock each other out so they can grab a pot of coins by surviving to the end. If Marooners was able to lean a little more into variety and unpredictable gameplay, forcing everyone to adapt, it could have taken on a sort of multiplayer WarioWare quality but, alas, as it stands it’s just decent but not particularly great.

Please The Gods - There’s certainly something to be said for games going out on a limb and trying out ideas and systems that are different, however in the case of Please the Gods I’m not sure how well it works out. Combining survival elements where you’ll need to concern yourself with resources, turn-based combat, and a dose of strategy, the experience has quite a bit going on. That said, whether much of it is sufficiently explained to aid in making your early playthroughs more encouraging than frustrating is a different matter. The combat mechanics where you’ll roll the dice and then need to make decisions on which of your attack and defense options to work with is interesting. Using strategy to try to mitigate risk or capitalize on opportunities, depending on which way the RNG winds may be blowing, is interesting but after a short while it also tends to get a bit tedious since the on-screen action is pretty static and too often reminiscent of generations gone by. If you’re itching for a different take on things and don’t mind the plodding pace it may be worth a look but otherwise you’ll likely be best steering clear.