Monday, October 19

Mini Reviews: October 19th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Crown Trick [Nindie Choice!] -
Among the many genres and subgenres roguelikes have managed to infiltrate I can’t say that a tactical turn-based adventure-ish RPG is one I’ve run across to this point. If there can be more compelling examples along the lines of Crown Trick I’ll just say now I’m all for it. This is a title I originally saw at PAX East and left me feeling iffy about the affair. Whether that was just that the demo wasn’t structured quite right, or the time allowed didn’t really allow me to dig in I don’t know, but the more time I’ve spent with it the more it has impressed me. There’s absolutely a learning curve for understanding what makes the game tick, especially when it comes to fighting bosses. It’s amazing how survivable encounters with tough enemies can be if you’re patient, observe the environment and your opportunities there well, and make effective use of multiple spells and abilities you’re able to have at your disposal. Attack, move, set up Spell A, blink (your ability to teleport away or out of trouble), Spell B, attack, attack, move, and repeat is similar to how many of my battles played out. Elemental damage plays a huge role in things and that’s where the environment comes in. I found I tended to have my battles play out in only a subset of my environment and if I’d moved further in even more opportunities would have presented themselves so don’t hesitate to move around and see what you have at your disposal if your enemies look too formidable. Summed up Crown Trick looks fantastic, plays very smart, has a fair amount of great risk and reward opportunity, and presents a roguelike challenge that feels fresh and addictive. It’s definitely worth a look.

Batbarian: Testament of the Primordials [Nindie Choice!] - What’s interesting with indie games is their consistent ability to seem familiar at first but then consistently surprise you by defying expectations. Barbarian is one such title, having the look and initial feel of an old school Metroidvania from the 16-bit era but then upping the typical game in the areas of puzzles and the number of secrets to be found. I was pretty well amazed in just the first few hours how many secrets were just hinted at that I gave a shot, thinking like it is in many games that it was just me being too eager to find something cool, but then finding my instincts had been right. For me there’s just something highly satisfying about that and I found myself spending as much time trying to find secrets as worrying about progress. As can be the case with the genre, getting lost can be an issue as you try to squeeze out everything there is to find and then get back on the main track. However I didn’t generally find myself backtracking too far in most cases and that kept the game from dragging as you need to get around as some games do. While perhaps it may not quite be a must-have experience I’d expect genre fans will find it to be a consistently pleasant surprise.

G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout - Having grown up with the Joes through the comic books and the cartoons I’m undoubtedly in the sweet spot for the love of the organization and their eternal fight with Cobra. With third-person action feeling somewhere between an arcade gun game and a shooter (from perhaps a generation or so ago) the experience isn’t a bad one, but there’s no denying it’s also lacking in polish. I do appreciate the main storyline moving you between sides and character choices, ensuring you can’t get too comfortable with any particular skill set and that the overall fun can be drawn out as much as possible. If you’re able to play with a friend I’d consider that the optimum experience as in solo mode you’ll have a companion along for the ride but their usefulness being called “minimal” would be more than generous. The story is pure classically-ridiculous cheese, the action is unrefined but can be satisfying, and the roster of Cobra and Joe characters includes the major players as well as a few amusingly obscure ones somehow. It may not be art, but it’s not a bad time for some grindy, generally mindless fun (and challenge in spots).

Inside Grass: Little Adventure - Approaching Inside Grass the most important thing to keep in mind is that not all games are meant for all audiences… and that in the case of this adventure the target is likely kids. Quite obviously converted over from being a tablet game, it does work well enough on a controller and in some spots like when you’re button-mashing attacks it’s possible it may be a bit easier. This is a pretty light and not terribly challenging RPG/adventure where you’ll tackle opponents with some quick taps, and break through barriers by executing reasonably-well in a variety of mini game-esque sequences. If you have any gaming experience at all it’s probably beneath you but for budding gamers out there it’s quite accessible, so appreciated.

Two Parsecs From Earth - As you may assume with a Nintendo system platformers are roughly a dime a dozen and though Metroidvanias aren’t as abundant their average quality has been impressive. With this in mind, a title like Two Parsecs From Earth, though sporting a budget price, is tough to get enthused about. Though it’s novel, one issue is that you start out completely neutered and your skill acquisitions are almost entirely things you’d start out with in an average title. This makes the early game a bit of a drag and/or frustrating as you walk by loads of spots you simply can’t get to. Then, as you slowly build up your skills the other issue sets in, that mechanically your robot is just a bit more awkward and clumsy than would be ideal. Throw in the need to re-explore the same areas as you get the skills you were lacking the last time and it’s just a bit too much of a slog in the end.

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