Tuesday, September 15

Mini Reviews: September 15th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Golf Zero [Nindie Choice!] -
Who knew that a game that initially confused me quite a bit in terms of what you were supposed to be doing (it should probably be more clear in the initial stages how you should be playing) could end up making me a fan. This is absolutely one of the more unusual games I’ve played this year really mixing up a puzzle platformer with golf to make something completely new and different. You see, you’re able to make your shots while in the air, which you’ll absolutely need to do the majority of the time, and while you can’t control your shot strength (in the end, probably a blessing) time will slow when you initiate your shot, making your focus aiming one or more shots in the hopes of finding success. Where it really can get diabolical is when you then layer the objectives that need to be met for a gold medal into the mix, forcing you to go the extra mile and prove your skills further. If you’re easily frustrated this probably won’t be a good fit for you but as a lover of quirky games that take a big chance on swimming upstream I have to give credit where it is due, this is a smart and pretty challenging budget title that deserves some attention.

Fight Crab - OK, so I definitely consider a title like this a love/hate proposition. Giant crustaceans of all types and sizes duking it out in a variety of environments from cities to dinner tables who can grab whatever is available to whack at each other until one combatant is flipped and loses? Since I love games that are a bit off-center it makes me giggle and dig in but I can understand how someone could reductively look at it as a game of wild flailing and button mashing. To some degree they wouldn’t be 100% incorrect. I found that technique can still be effective and win the day but spam can work well, but that’s also true of most fighting games out there to be fair. The thing is, underneath the chaos and admitted lack of nuance in the controls as a whole, there is a degree of technique in positioning and knowing when to engage and when to back off that does elevate the strategy component a bit. Unlocks for playing include all manner of hard-shelled sea critters as well as a barrage of increasingly-preposterous weapons you can wield. This absolutely won’t be a game for everyone but there can be a degree of joy in laying some smack down with some ridiculous weapon in one hand while trying to hold your opponent in place with the other. It’s weird and a bit crazy, but it’s also undeniably unique.

Space Robinson - As a huge fan of roguelike shooters Space Robinson has me a bit perplexed in trying to figure out where I stand on it. Its retro look is clean and pretty clear, its various weapons are varied and can give you pause as you try to figure out which will suit you best, and the challenge is certainly there... and that’s all for a budget-friendly price. Where it loses its luster though are with perks that are inconsistent in their usefulness, a lack of better meta-progression that helps the game evolve, and for the most part no real elements of risk/reward. The result is a mildly-satisfying shooter that has many roguelike trappings but that just feels like it comes up short when there are so many noteworthy and better structured titles in the genre on the system. I repeatedly went back to the game in the hopes that it would just suddenly click with me and my opinion would turn more positive but unfortunately I think the more I played the more I was frustrated by it not quite getting to the level of too many of its peers.

Othercide - Tactical combat simulations have always been a genre I’ve had interest in since the early X-Com days but over the years that bar has proven to be a very high one to expect other games, especially indies to reach let alone surpass. Othercide takes a similar but slightly altered path overall, always a smart move to avoid too much direct comparison. It’s a strange mix of good and bad though. There’s no question that the aesthetic style it brings to the table is distinctive and quite attractive, and the various skills and attacks you’ll be able to cultivate in your warriors can be tactically varied enough to find a mix that suits your style. That said, there’s no getting around the fact that the UI is cumbersome at best and the console controls come off as clunky, and since there’s no escaping those elements as you interact with them constantly you can only learn to tolerate them. If you don’t mind the fact that in many ways periodically losing is the only way to ultimately succeed and are drawn in by the dark story you may find it worth your while but in general there are better strategy fixes available on the eShop.

Tin & Kuna - When it comes to platforming fun the Switch generally has you covered from the AAA level all the way down through budget indies so it can be a tough genre to make a splash in. Tin & Kuna takes a fair shot at it, working with more of a rolling mechanic for controls that does feel a bit fresh and different, but that isn’t to say it always works to the game’s benefit. In particular trying to move a big ball around accurately with a smaller ball can be imprecise at best and since getting through levels relies on doing that specifically you can expect to become used to close but no cigar moments where you’ll need to go back and give it another try. The fact that the camera tends to want to come at you from a high angle also really needlessly complicates situations where you need to jump to platforms a bit above you, and sometimes that will require leaps of faith where you believe the platform is but may rudely find out otherwise. It’s not a terrible experience by any means, and the variety it offers is a perk, but I’d consider it to be mid to low on the Switch platformer bang for your buck scale.

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