Tuesday, March 24

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

Sky Racket [Nindie Choice!] - This is one of those games where with the elevator pitch alone I was revved up and ready to go. A retro-styled mash up of shmup bullet dodging and breakout? Where do I sign up? Fortunately, though granted the experience isn’t necessarily a long one (and I’d say it’s a mistake not to have online leaderboards to encourage people to replay stages to compete on scores), Sky Racket’s execution justifies the excitement. Not only does it look like a long lost title from the 16-bit era, there’s just a whimsical quality to it that lines up with that time as well, making it feel like a bit of a lost classic. I’d say the experience is equally good solo or with a friend, though paired you’ll probably want to be sure your skills are at least comparable to keep some frustrations at bay. If you’ve been bemoaning there simply not being enough innovation in the market you owe it to yourself to partake of this great and unique indie gem.

Exit the Gungeon - While I’m not as massive a fan of Enter the Gungeon as some are (given the choice I’d typically pick Nuclear Throne, but I get why Gungeon is popular) I have a great deal of respect for it and easily count it as one of the top roguelike shooters in the indie space. When I heard the word that it would be getting a sequel I’ll admit I was pretty stoked to see how that great base formula had been iterated on. Unfortunately, though Exit will no doubt have its fans I’d find it hard not to consider it a step backwards though. No doubt in part motivated not to simply run with more of the same where Enter was a top-down shooter, Exit is instead more of a platform shooter and that shift makes major fundamental changes in play. Even if it is obvious that there was an attempt to keep as much the same, in particular the bullet-avoiding dodging and constant flow of weirdo guns, for me the action simply isn’t as ripe with possibility and surprise. From run to run far too many details are pretty close to identical this time around, and that lowered degree of the unexpected really dials back the potential for fun… especially when coupled with the fact that so many of the crazy guns and enemies have lost their edge of originality after the original being out there for years now. If you’re eager to take on the Gungeon with a new sense of purpose don’t let my negativity slow you down, just keep your expectations in check for this outing.

Wanderlust Travel Stories - I’ll be the first to admit that interactive novels as games don’t typically do it for me, they too often either lack in richness I expect in a well-written narrative or I just don’t find there’s enough for me to do other than click along to advance to the next block of text. While I’m not sure Waderlust Travel Stories will necessarily bring new people into the genre I do respect that it manages to walk the tightrope of my own expectations telling unexpected stories that are rich in their characterization, allow for choices that I’m not sure cause the ultimate outcome to shift too significantly but that feel like they matter, and then periodic images that convey the beauty of the places being visited. It certainly doesn’t have any action to speak of but if I’m going to read a bunch of text while on my Switch I’m thankful there are options like this one that are actually worth reading through.

Poly Puzzle - Having seen and played a pretty wide variety of puzzle games on Switch, ranging from predictable to creative, Poly Puzzle is definitely pointing towards the innovative and different end of the scale. The concept is pretty simple, rotating almost what I’d call a cloud of polygonal shards until they form into an image of a figure when you get them to just the right angle. For the most part this tends to go almost too quickly to wanting to rip your hair out trying to hit the sweet spot every few puzzles. While it can be satisfying to see the details fall into place to make some pretty wild figures if you don’t pace yourself you’ll blow through it pretty quickly overall.

NecroWorm - There’s something to be said for some decent theming and presentation compensating for or even elevating somewhat lackluster play. In general I’d say that’s roughly where NecroWorm lands, with its sensibilities in terms of action trending towards the classic Snake but with some additional strategy thrown in with traps and other considerations to take into account. Your goal is to simply eat everything you can without hitting anything you shouldn’t or essentially taking a bite out of yourself first. That makes it very straightforward, and perhaps perfect for quick play sessions, but it does wear on you a bit if you’re playing continuously.