Wednesday, September 9

Mini Reviews: September 9th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Hotshot Racing [Nindie Choice!] - With its low-poly look coming straight out of classic Sega arcade titles like Daytona Racing we have Hotshot Racing, and while it may not have incredible depth or nuance damn if it isn’t a whole lotta fun. There’s nothing too complicated, you’ll choose from an assortment of international racers who each have their own flair (I love my boy Viktor), choose which of their cars you prefer, which each are tuned a little differently for variety, and hit the tracks. This is full-on arcade racing, with plenty of bumping and jockeying for position to put your opponents into the wall on turns and then conserving your boost to be sure you can fly across the finish line. The boost-building mechanic, which has you either power-sliding around turns or drafting your opponents who are ahead of you puts just enough technique in the picture to make you work for it and provides a little room for skill and strategy as well. For kicks aside from the main championships the Arcade one-off races can be switched to a cops and robbers mode as well as elimination, helping to provide some variety as well. It’s an absolutely outstanding old-school, fun, and great-looking arcade racer.

Inertial Drift [Nindie Choice!] - While some people prefer their racing to be a bit rough around the edges, banging around turns and defying any sense of realism, others prefer to go the other direction and focus on nuance. That’s certainly the case for the aptly-named Inertial Drift, which won’t give you the arcade-like thrills of bumping into your competitors (when you do race against a single opponent you don’t make contact with them, they’re always effectively ghosts), but instead focuses on skilled drifting, which offers great fun and challenge in its own right. The big differentiator here is that the right stick controls the angle of your drift, which is a brilliant idea, and really allows you to have fabulously-precise control of your car through turns, and as you get better your understanding of how best to turn versus drift continues to evolve. There’s no doubt the degree of challenge is also higher here, but if you find yourself struggling initially I’d very much recommend choosing a different racer and car. Every vehicle has its own associated technique with it in terms of how you approach turns, whether just letting off the throttle, braking, or whatever it may be. Each feels very distinct and I could see where different people could prefer each particular style of racer. To top it off the hand-drawn sort of art style looks pretty amazing, so if you prefer nuance to trading paint this may be the racer for you.

Circuit Dude - Even with as many varieties of puzzle games as I’ve played on the Switch I’m happy to say that none of them have been quite like Circuit Dude. Similar in many regards to a traditional box pusher, I don’t know if it’s the theming that’s simply good at disguising traditional elements or just that its approach is a bit different so it feels like a fresh take. You’ll progressively be introduced to different components that would go on a circuit board that will act as obstacles to you filling in the proper slots. While initially the order or path you may take to do so won’t make much difference it doesn’t take long for every move to have a serious consequence as you’ll find there’s only one path that’s going to successfully allow you to complete the board and get to the exit without getting trapped. If you like puzzles that are focused on process and the order you do things in, trying to break them down in order to plot an optimum route this provides that, but with a very friendly theme as well overall.

OkunoKA Madness - Fast-moving platforming with a focus on precision is what it all ends up being about on OkunoKA Madness, and the fact that this title has been geared towards speedrunners is thus no surprise. With a feel reminiscent of the likes of Super Meat Boy where it comes to the need for accuracy in order to complete certain sections or grab extra bonuses fans of that style should feel at home, but I’ll warn you that I’d say the controls don’t feel quite as tight and responsive somehow, so you’ll need to just get used to the game’s mechanics. At least since you may find yourself spending a fair amount of time on single levels, trying to perfect your jumps and timing, it’s very whimsical and pretty to look at. While the characters themselves may have a more Flash-game type of look to them the environments are often quite gorgeous. It’s probably going to be an acquired taste geared more towards the hardcore crowd but if you’re been looking to scratch that twitchy platformer itch this should satisfy.

Batu Ta Batu - Let’s face it, there are a ton of puzzle games out there on Switch, most of them in the budget-friendly space. That said, since there’s so much variety in what those games offer you won’t know if you’ve found something perfect for you until you see it. Mechanically Batu Ta Batu is pretty straight-forward, you want to combine smaller colored blocks to create bigger ones and then move them to the side where you can remove them for points. Smaller pieces can’t move larger ones so which piece you’re trying to manipulate is always a consideration, and given the risk that longer pieces in different directions can cause a log jam you do need to consider your strategy as you’re quickly moving at least a bit. I do wish that the investment to unlock additional modes wasn’t so high, seeing more variety quicker would probably help hook people further rather than having them potentially miss out because they don’t want to grind it out. It’s good to have it added for variety but I’m not sure it has anything that makes it a clear winner in a crowded space.

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