Friday, June 26

Mini Reviews: June 26th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Ultracore - Quite literally a blast from the past, Ultracore is a product of love, having been restored from an originally unreleased Mega Drive title by the well-known developer Digital Illusions (now known as DICE). Having played some of its contemporaries back in the day on Amiga if you’re familiar with games from that era it will feel just like coming home, featuring a look that was quite common at the time and pretty intense play. Bearing in mind that its throwback authenticity is its selling point, be warned that modern sensibilities aren’t in any way present, this is a platform shooter that expects you to hit the ground running, learn as you go, and perhaps struggle at times as you try to develop your plan of action. Probably its most interesting feature, how you’re able to angle your aim differently as you’re running while only using a single joystick, is both its best and worst point. When it works well you can appreciate how smart an idea it is, but there’s a certain degree of frustration you’ll hit at times when it can feel inconsistent in its behavior. Regardless, if you’re a fan of shooters from that era this is a bona fide contender from that era that even many genre fans likely missed out on at the time.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom [Rehydrated] - Remasters are always a tricky affair, and topping that potential problem with a licensed game is likely all the more risky. Feeling like a middle-of-the-road 3D platformer of its time though, as a base Battle for Bikini Bottom isn’t too bad, featuring play as multiple characters who have different skills, plenty of SpongeBob silliness, and reasonable controls. As you may be able to predict some of its biggest issues that haven’t been revisited are its sometimes finicky camera, poorly-defined environmental boundaries with abundant invisible walls, and some issues with perceiving depth that can make precision jumping a pain. Putting aside the issues there’s a pretty good degree of polish here, and as a game for kids or the nostalgic young at heart who remember playing it themselves when it was released, it may be a pretty solid choice. Just bear in mind that even the average modern 3D platformer will likely provide a better experience overall.

Super Soccer Blast - Having already done a reasonably good job of knocking out two very playable indie sports titles in the Blast series the folks at Unfinished Pixel have stepped it up a notch to take on a bigger team sport, soccer. Rather than shooting for the more stripped down arcade experience with a limited team Super Soccer Blast features full-sized rosters and that will generally mean you’ll need to try to come to grips with ball movement for success rather than sticking with a core ball-handler. While the controls are relatively simple and work pretty well I’ll admit that your teammate AI is perhaps a little unreliable, often making effective passes tricky but more critically not typically being in good positions to capitalize when you’re trying to set up to score. All that said, I’d say that on average I wouldn’t consider its shortcomings a killer, you can still compensate and find success. Just bear in mind that this isn’t a big-budget outing and in general that its degree of polish and refinement are roughly in line with its budget-friendly price tag.

Ploid Saga - Featuring two platforming shooters and one vertically-scrolling shmup (with a fourth game option planned to come with a free update in the near future) Ploid Saga attempts to deliver quite a lot of gaming content for a very reasonable price. The risk with this sort of package is that the overall quality can get diluted and particularly in the case of the shmup title that’s the case. While it’s a bit unfair to pit it against some of the excellent indie titles already on the Switch there are so many better-implemented options available at pretty well all price points that you need to recognize its unrefined and honestly pretty clunky look and feel of play. The two platformers are at least a bit better, featuring different overall styles of play depending on which of the two characters you choose, but again when compared to comparable offerings on the system it plays more generically than average and just doesn’t inspire a need to return for more every chance you get. To its credit, if you’re on a budget and are just looking to stretch the gaming content to enjoy it’s not a bad deal, but particularly if you’ve been spoiled by the terrific indie platformers and shooters already on Switch this title comes up a bit short on that score.

Infliction: Extended Cut - Horror adventure / walking simulation games have seemed to be quite abundant on the Switch but unfortunately they’ve all been pretty middle of the road without any clearly stepping up and achieving something great. Infliction blends in pretty well with the rest of the pack in many ways, featuring plenty of tension and some scares, which can be fun, but in terms of presentation and overall feel just not being very refined. To its credit, I’d consider its story, twists, and turns to be above average among its peers… just sort of going down its own little road by making you question what is happening, has happened, and may or may not be real. Clocking in at a solid handful of hours it’s at least not over too quickly but also doesn’t overstay its welcome, and if you’re just in the mood to get that tickle in the pit of your stomach as you search slowly just waiting for whatever may come next it’s not a bad package.