Friday, June 19

Mini Reviews: June 19th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Colt Canyon [Nindie Choice!] - Whenever a new roguelike shooter arrives on the scene you know I’m there with a degree of eagerness to see how it has turned out. The thing is, the hill to climb for roguelike shooter greatness has continued to get tougher over the years, honestly the Switch has been blessed with so many great ones of all types that claiming a prime spot on the pile is a challenge. Enter Colt Canyon, a game I’ve checked out at PAX before but aside from having a pretty simple and old-school pixelated look never made a huge impression on me. Whether it has been tweaked since those demos I’ve played or whether in the rush through appointments didn’t allow me enough time to truly get engaged with it I’ll admit my impressions were pretty far off the mark. Taking into account the variety in the heroes you can choose (they need to be unlocked but honestly this wasn’t hard to do), the weapons you’ll encounter, and the various perks you’ll have to choose from if you take the time to find people who have been held captive, the result is pretty challenging and satisfying. Moreso than most roguelike shooters the emphasis here is on using your dash and melee attacks as much as possible. Ammo isn’t necessarily scarce but your carry capacity limitations can deplete your rounds pretty quickly in a big firefight, guns are noisy and attract attention so stealthily chipping away at bad guys can be preferred, and for many guns the reload time can make them a liability when things get crazy. Put together this all makes for a shooter that has a very different flow than its competition, and paired with a pretty modest price I consider it to be worth a look if you’re itching for some pretty challenging shooter action.

Darius Cozmic Collection (Console Edition) - Playing the console versions of the Darius series back-to-back with their arcade counterparts was pretty fascinating and even enlightening, as was playing essentially the same title in a few cases on different historic hardware. Even outside of the often satisfying classic side-scrolling shmup play I think that’s the sort of perspective that makes collections like this worthwhile for fans of gaming who are interested in some of the history as well. Seeing how well (or, in some cases, maybe not so well) the limitations of different hardware were dealt with to maintain a consistent experience associated with the Darius franchise can be fascinating. In addition to seeing different iterations of the same roughly 6 titles spanning consoles including the Sega Master System, SNES, Genesis, and PC Engine you’re also able to see in many cases how the same basic title could sometimes have differences depending on the region it was released in. Of the two collections if you’re just generally a fan of shmups I’d consider the degree of difficulty in the console titles to be more approachable, even if visually some of these games obviously won’t have the same terrific art their arcade counterparts had. Whether your interest is in nostalgia or appreciating history though, this collection has plenty of gameplay to work through and enjoy.

The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters - The survival horror adventure sub-genre hasn’t had too many entries in it on Switch, but given the overall lack of horror games on the system I know many people have been tempted by them. With the original Coma title, while I appreciated the creepy atmosphere and feeling of dread, probably my biggest complaint about it is that the regularity with which you’d need to escape a gruesome death and hide was too high, so high that it virtually ruined the delicious sense of suspense… you just got to the point that being chased was a chore instead of a thrill. In the case of this Coma sequel pretty much everything on the whole is the same, but I’m enormously grateful that for this installment the being chased element has been toned down a great deal. This allows you to get in more efficient exploration, prevent the game from dragging so much, and makes the anticipation of what may be around the corner much more of a thrill. If you’re looking for some great periodic horrific imagery, a creeping sense of dread, and otherwise just a solid adventure with a decent story be sure to check this out!

Darius Cozmic Collection (Arcade Edition) - While I was a pretty big arcade shooter fan in the arcades the Darius series is one I don’t remember playing very much. I couldn’t miss the arcade unit for the original, with its really crazy widescreen cabinet that was unlike any of its peers (which, by the way, is absolutely represented here, just by shrinking the game vertically a bit to make room) but revisiting the series in this collection helped remind me a bit why I may not have sunk many quarters into it. I’d say when compared to its shmup contemporaries Darius is a bit of an oddball, having shooter DNA in common with the likes of the classic Scramble but with some expected shmup power-ups and bosses thrown into the mix for good measure. The branching paths you’d have to choose from, assuming you’re able to survive, are also a pretty cool feature of the games (though not all versions have this) and demonstrate just how much total content is packed into them. While ultimately this collection only has 4 full-fledged titles to choose from (Darius, Darius 2, SAGAIA, and the quite different Darius Gaiden) with some variants if you’re up for the challenge it’s a series that simply has its own unique take on the genre and is well worth appreciating.

Radio Squid - Anyone who has been following me for a while knows that when it comes to weird games I’m a bit of a connoisseur, and when you throw some shooting into the mix it usually just adds to my excitement. Alas, in the case of Radio Squid the combination doesn’t prove to be enough to save some really funky mechanics and a style of play that never really appealed to me at all. The game does itself no real favors in the early going, not really explaining or illustrating how the game is ideally to be played in the first place, making the early going a bit painful as you may wonder if you’re even doing it right. At least as far as I can tell from trying my best to take it in for longer than it really deserved, yeah, you’re probably playing the game correctly… it just is kind of a bummer, funky in a not-so-great way, and just isn’t much fun.