Friday, July 24

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

Dex - Harkening back to an earlier time, Dex is a side-scrolling cyberpunk RPG adventure that, at a minimum, feels refreshingly different on the system. With attractive art, a generally well-written script, and even reasonably-good voice acting it definitely tends to show the work that has been put in at least. Where the game suffers a bit is in the combat and hacking elements that at first feel novel but turn stale through sheer repetition without much evolution and what I’d consider a rough start where it felt like you are generally left to fend for yourself and fail a bit in order to learn the ropes. I’d consider the experience likely to satisfy someone looking for a cyberpunk-style fix or wanting a reasonably-good RPG with a more active battle system and some tough choices as you contemplate your upgrade paths. However, if your hope was for some engaging combat or real excitement it’s not quite up to that standard, and you’ll likely want to look elsewhere.

Max and the Book of Chaos - This is one of those titles that screams being up my alley, featuring some relatively arcade-style shooting action and excitement. Taking inspiration and even some visual flair from a variety of sources the oddity of Max right off the bat is that it doesn’t make a firm commitment to being a platform shooter (where you’re running and gunning sideways), a variant of the likes of Buster Brothers / Pang (where you exclusively shoot up), or perhaps what would have made the most sense as a twin-stick shooter. Instead it chooses its own hodge podge mix of it all and doesn’t work well because of that. Due to this fact the result really irked me honestly as the controls feel like they’re holding you back and so much of the time you’re being hurt or killed by what feel like cheap attacks paired with poor mechanics. In particular, enemies that will fall and unleash an attack that goes the length of the screen get tiresome, especially with the regularity with which they show up as you progress and how quickly lone ones will appear and fall. Throw in power-ups whose availability is too inconsistent and it makes the mistake of thinking that just making itself really hard is sufficient, failing to differentiate between gameplay that is challenging fun and just being joyless by merely being difficult for its own sake. With so many varied shooters on the Switch (including tough ones) that do a far better job this is definitely a miss.

Colloc - There’s nothing wrong with a decent and clever puzzle game that gets your mental gears working and to Colloc’s credit it is at least a little bit different than any other genre game I’ve played on Switch. The rules and their nuance take a bit of getting used to but once they click they do make sense and simply solving the puzzles then generally isn’t too difficult. What the game is really about is tackling each puzzle as efficiently as possible and completing them in the minimum number of moves. This may seem like a relatively simple matter but it is the fact that when more than one piece is present that your moves affect both in parallel that inevitably complicates things. It’s not a bad experience, though perhaps it feels wasted on dedicated gaming hardware, and if you’re not interested in pursuing perfection you’ll likely blow through it relatively quickly.

Jisei: The First Case - As has been the case with several other recent mildly-interactive visual novel outings on the Switch, Jisei will probably appeal to a thin audience that is pulled in by the overall story, but most people will want to keep moving. In this case the story involves a young man with a curious ability to experience the last moments of a person’s life and the trouble he finds himself in after encountering a woman murdered in a coffee shop bathroom. There’s a certain level of intrigue and quirk to the characters that may draw you in but just don’t expect much in the way of real depth or backstory to fill in some blanks on who this person is and what they’re about. My biggest issue is the simple lack of much to do other than read the text on screen and look at the art changing periodically as you mostly talk to the other characters and move the story along. Relatively short, the lack of many choices also means it won’t take too much to burn it out after a few tries if it would even happen to take that many. If you really want a story, it may suffice, but otherwise you’ll want to pass.

Waifu Uncovered - Whenever there is any doubt about whether or not Nintendo has really changed its ways over the years, a quick reflection on the presence of the likes of Waifu Uncovered is all you need to consider. With your goal being to “save” a collection of 8 different gals from clothing that has been infected by a deadly alien virus, it is obviously of utmost importance that every fiber of covering them must be obliterated. Aren’t you such a great guy to be so concerned with their lives that you’d undertake such a grave task? To its credit, though its arcade shooting action is a bit loose and on the generic side I’ve certainly played worse on the system, and the inclusion of all sorts of bizarre aliens and memes to shoot at adds an element of humor. Is it great? No. Will people on your friends list raise an eyebrow when they see you clocking serious time into it? Probably. But hey, if it sounds like a good time to you that’s your business.