Wednesday, October 21

Mini Reviews: October 21st Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Jackbox Party Pack 7 [Nindie Choice!] -
My family and I have become massive fans of the Jackbox games over time, having played through each party pack at some point. The unique format, where you’ll be using your phones (or a tablet, or a laptop) as controllers is what makes it a very versatile game at parties as pretty well everyone should already be ready to play. Most games are geared for a minimum of 3 people (though I’d say most you need a minimum of 4 to be remotely fun) up to usually 8 but the provision to allow additional people into the game as the audience is a great feature that can get loads of extra people along to enjoy the ride and vote for their favorites. With what in mind I’ll cover the specific games in this pack.

Quiplash 3 is I think, technically, the fourth entry in the series since there was an XL in there at one point. It’s probably my favorite periodic mini game they’ve made (the original can now also be purchased as a stand-alone on Switch BTW) and at parties it has had people roaring. At one party we played it and Cards Against Humanity back to back and the pretty well unanimous vote was that the open-ended nature of Quiplash made it the better game. This third entry does little to change the formula, though it has taken on a Claymation look. Aside from that the third round has been restructured into a multi-prompt challenge, and I think we prefer it to previous formats. 

The Devil is in the Details is an interesting and pretty new concept in gameplay for them, forcing everyone to try to work together towards success but doing plenty to encourage people to game things in their own favor as well. You’ll quickly all need to review tasks, some of which can be done solo, some you’ll need to communicate and collaborate on, and it can get noisy and hectic for sure. Champ’d Up is really the drawing game of the bunch with everyone making and naming their own heroes and then trying to get them to be chosen when given weird awards to work with. Depending on the group this can be a hit or a miss and I’ll note that currently it’s a bit buggy with the drawings not always being represented properly on the main screen (though on phones drawings always appeared correctly somehow). The big surprise hit for my family was Talking Points, a game where each person will essentially take a turn giving a PowerPoint presentation on a weird topic, but someone else is in charge of the slides. It’s a real improvisational challenge but yielded side-splitting results for us so everyone just wanted to keep playing. Truly a great time even among people who are usually on the introverted side but I could see results varying. 

Last, there’s Blather Round where you’re trying to get everyone else in the room to identify a specific person or thing (you’re given a list which includes easier and tougher ones to choose from) but you have very limited means to help them, with basic prompts with a variety of random words and then the ability to respond to guesses others have made. This was interesting and pretty fun but currently it was also buggy, losing a fair number of choices we’d made and showing them as “Blank”. We luckily just worked around this by telling people what the blanks represented but hopefully it can be resolved soon. Truly this may be the most diverse pack of the bunch and while there may not be a clear best game the change from the norm is it is hard to identify the one or two that are clearly the worst. Can’t wait for the next one!


Röki [Nindie Choice!] - When you’re young your imagination can truly be a powerful (and sometimes scary) thing. Being fed by your parents, the media, or your friends it can be unusual what you can not only believe but also conceive around you. In the case of Röki it just so happens that the legendary stories and creatures young Tove’s mother had told her happen to be real. After an initial encounter with a huge troll she’s forced to abandon her father in order to make an escape with her younger brother. What follows is an adventure that explores the gorgeous and distinctly-drawn Nodic landscape as well as quite a number of its mythical creatures, both good and not so much. In general the puzzles here feel sensible, requiring some experimentation at times, but never really moving into the trap of being obtuse like many adventure titles struggle with. What really drives the game though is the emotional experience, seeing it all through Tove’s eyes as she struggles with the challenges around her. It’s well worth taking the time to enjoy for anyone looking for a genuine and unique story.


Supermarket Shriek - Ah, I do appreciate a weirdo title and Supermarket Shriek is more than happy to deliver. Played either solo or with a friend the controls and concept of the gameplay are pretty basic. You’ll use the shoulder triggers on each side to control the propulsive scream of either the man or tha goat sitting on either side of the cart, providing forward (or is it backwards?) momentum if both are screaming and allowing you to turn with only one doing it. You’ll then pair that with what are usually like obstacle courses in various stores that will challenge you to try to be precise and get them through it while working against the clock. With all of the varied traps, obstacles, jumps to be cleared, and simple limits of how accurately you’ll be able to steer it can be a real challenge. While the style of play likely won’t be for everyone I do appreciate the silliness and the attempt to make another approachable oddball game for the system.


HyperBrawl Tournament - This futuristic sports title boasts a mix of 2-on-2 goal-scoring action with brawling and varied arenas. You’ll choose your teammates, choose their special weapons of choice, and then try to use smart play to defeat the enemy team. While it has promise, and can be fun for a bit, ultimately as a single-player experience it can be frustrating and just gets too repetitive as in order to win you’re more likely to stick with strategies that work even if they may be a bit cheap. Another issue is just a general lack of fluidity, your players move pretty slowly and making contact with the other team is lacking in excitement, it’s more of a means to an end. At least with some friends some smack talking and more aggressive play can liven things up. It’s not terrible but at the same time it never really got its hooks into me compelling me to keep returning to it.


Death Ray Manta SE - There’s nothing wrong with a very arcade-like twin-stick shooting experience with a little flavor of Robotron and some others, I love the classics and still load up Robotron with some regularity. That said, while Death Ray Manta SE throws some funky voice samples, sounds, and a kaleidoscope of colors at you it comes up a bit short if you’re looking for staying power. I get it, there’s an onslaught of things coming at you, shooting at you, and you need to shoot, dodge, and destroy. The thing is, even compared to the likes of the original Robotron there just doesn’t feel like there’s much to the visual cacophony other than chaos for its own sake. Sure, there’s a gem on each screen you can try to quickly grab and there’s a mild variety of enemies but there’s just some gameplay magic and nuance that I feel like it’s missing to make it stand out in the crowd.

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