Thursday, September 10

Mini Reviews: September 10th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Avicii Invector [Nindie Choice!] - While there have been quite a few great rhythm games on the Switch, it seems that room will now need to be made for another rock solid musically-based experience. Playing as a bit of a counterpoint to the excellent but almost nightmarish and grim Thumper, Avicii Invector is hardly a walk in the park but there’s just something about its style of play and its often-amazing visuals that is quite inspiring. I have no doubt that given the music being the product of the game’s namesake, who unfortunately took his own life after struggles with medical problems and depression, the search for inspiration and the positives in the world were a part of his journey that unfortunately ended too early for such an obviously-talented person. The play feels like a mixture of an endless racer and rhythm game, with periodic sections where you’ll fly through rings instead. Whenever you’re having success the tempo will progressively speed up, so it isn’t unusual to hit rough patches where your multiplier will tumble, but at least the game will again slow itself down and let you get your bearings once more. About my only complaints are how the game will sometimes have odd sections where the difficulty will go up very quickly and then almost as suddenly return to a more manageable degree periodically as well as the left trigger beats that visually hit later than my brain would prefer, resulting in periodic early beats that were close but not quite close enough for the picky mechanics on that particular element. If you enjoy playing games to a terrific and pretty varied soundtrack this is one well worth checking out.

Wintermoor Tactics Club [Nindie Choice!] - When you think of the tactical RPG genre the words “accessible” don’t normally come to mind but Wintermoor Tactics Club is just that sort of surprise. Not only does it offer up a pretty friendly and well-crafted introduction to many traditional tactics concepts, it does so with a roughly relatable (well, to a degree at least) core crew of nerds who just want to be able to keep their role-playing club going. Having a challenge thrown at their feet with the need to defeat all rival clubs at head-to-head battles (relax, it’s just some snowball fighting) the group initially despairs but then realizes that the strategic lessons they’ve learned dungeon-crawling could pay off in real life if they treat it as one of their gaming sessions. With great (and some weird) characters, a steady but fair progression in concepts and difficulty, and some pretty smart overall battles to be won along the way this is a great introductory tactics game that just about anyone should be able to follow and perhaps develop an initial love for the genre with. For veterans, yeah, it may be a bit too simple for your tastes, but even then there’s still the enjoyable story of people you may well find something in common with who are worth rooting for.

Adventures of Pip - While there are loads of reasonably-good platformers on the Switch many of them typically have a difficult time to stand out from the rest with new worthwhile ideas. In the case of Adventures of Pip, its mechanics that will have you starting out as a lowly single pixel who is able to periodically power up and take on more refined forms that have new capabilities is relatively fresh and works well. If you’re a completionist there are secrets and challenging spots all around you begging to be found, explored, and mastered, but even if you’re not inclined to track everything down you’ll need to flex your smarts periodically to figure out how to get through a tough spot. Typically the answer is to revert to a lower resolution form in order to take on capabilities that those possess to get by a particular obstacle. This leads to a need for being precise, observant, and creative as you need to figure out how to get to specific spots and collect everything on each level… sometimes leading to some genuinely challenging sections you’ll need to flex your old school platforming muscles with to get by. Cute, creative, and quite secret-laden this was a surprisingly good time for a pretty humble package.

Party Hard 2 - When the original Party Hard hit it was a shock to the system, an odd mix of puzzle game, crowd simulator, and virtual serial killer experience. Morbid, to be sure, but also gruesomely fun as you got to understand the different elements of death available to you and how best to use them with some trial and error to work out optimum strategies. The sequel hasn’t changed anything of the core experience really, just fleshed it out with bigger spaces, more implements of death, and some different choices of character who each have their strengths and weaknesses. It can be an agonizing experience at times when you’re able to pull off some great kills, and be most of the way to completing your objectives when suddenly you get a little careless, someone sees you, and now you’re trying to deal with the cops. With experience and some savvy you’ll learn ways to avoid or dodge the cops but any time you complete a stage there’s likely to be some close calls at the hands of someone along the way. It won’t be a game for everyone but if you’ve got a bit of a sick streak in you it’s a great way to indulge in bumping off some people in violent and creative ways… which can be quite satisfying sometimes.

The Snake King - I’m sure pretty well just about everyone is familiar with the classic game of Snake. In my case, my earliest memories of a game in that vein was the Intellivision classic Snafu that I loved to play against my best friend but I digress. There have been variations on the theme over the years but the core play, with you simply growing longer as either time goes by or you eat and then trying to maneuver yourself in a way that you don’t end up being trapped by your own body. Though The Snake King does at least update the presentation a wee bit from the old school monochrome look you may have enjoyed on your early phone unfortunately it has done little else, so this will either be a throwback with new visuals you’ll enjoy for the nostalgia (or perhaps to suck in a younger gamer who appreciates the simplicity) or you’ll quickly be looking to move on to something more complex.

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