Thursday, October 29

Mini Reviews: October 29th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Carto [Nindie Choice!] -
Having played so many of them, unfortunately the first thing I assume I’ll see when approaching any sort of puzzle game is that it will be something I’ve seen before. What’s so wonderful is when a title takes that assumption and utterly blows it out of the water, something Carto does with heart and just very smart design. Long story, but you play as Carto and you have the ability to manipulate the world to rearrange it. Cool, yes, but where things get clever is combining this with puzzles that vary in how they’re constructed as you advance the story. Talking to various villagers you encounter you’ll find that what you’ve laid down will need some rearranging, sometimes just to make sure the edges of the various tiles work together but often in order to ensure elements like roads or foliage are placed relative to each other as they’re meant to be. Throw in some great characters you’ll encounter along the way and it’s a cheery, creative, and unexpected treasure of a puzzle adventure well worth your time.

Crimzon Clover: World EXplosion - If you’re a fan of arcade-style shmups you’ve been pretty well served on the Switch as the library of classic and new titles has gotten to be impressive. In the case of Crimzon Clover you can add yet another to the list. Featuring intense screens absolutely full of chaos representing your own substantial firepower and that of your enemies it will put your bullet-dodging to the test without it being an outright bullet hell title. The 3 initial ships, as the additional one that can be unlocked, aren’t majorly different from one another but they are each worth trying in order to find the feel that suits you best. The key to success very much seems to be using your lock-on and bombs consistently and often in order to keep replenishing your break meter, which allows you to unleash hell on your enemies. I was impressed by how well the game performed, never really slowing down no matter how many enemies, bullets, and stars were filling the screen at once. I’d say the wonky and inefficient way you need to access the online leaderboards is the most disappointing aspect of the game, why those can’t be front and center moreso I’m not sure and it does knock down the motivation to continue to play a bit. However, if you’re a big fan of arcade shooting grab your Flip Grip (to play in vertical mode, of course), sit back, and enjoy!

Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm - When you set your sights on trying to capture the essence of games in the mold of the Zelda series it has to be a daunting challenge. After the success of the original Oceanhorn which sported a more classic 16-bit look the developers apparently decided to go all in on moving to a full 3D world, an ambitious move without a doubt. The result, while generally pretty attractive, does manage to capture many aspects of the experience but also has some notable weaknesses that keep it from reaching its potential. Probably the weakest area overall is the game’s combat, mostly noticeable since it plays quite a large part in the overall experience. The lack of a means of locking onto enemies is part of it but there simply not being enough variety to it over time makes it into a sort of necessary slog. I do appreciate attempts to break up the action, with elements like a hoverbike sequence pretty early on, but them merely existing doesn’t make for a net positive when it’s obvious the mechanics and quality are a bit lacking. I don’t mean to be overly sour, for the price of admission this is a reasonably good adventure that has its moments. I just hope in their next effort they’re able to focus on diversifying and improving the depth and quality of core elements like combat that can keep a long adventure feeling fresh when well-implemented.

Galacide - Daring to blend genres that typically haven’t been mashed together can be a risky business, but the upside is that when it is done right there can be a substantial reward for your effort. I have no doubt the people behind Galacide had that in mind when they designed a game that combines a classic side-scrolling shmup with an action puzzle game. An ambitious idea, to be sure, but in terms of how effective and engaging it is? Well, that may be a rougher road. It is, no doubt, novel and it can be satisfying if you’re able to get into a groove. Grabbing colored gems from destroyed enemies, your goal is to complete groups of same-colored barriers that stand in your way to clear them and gain a helpful power-up in the process. The main problems I ended up having, though, are that overall that core experience never really seemed to evolve as you went along and that you’d get so occupied trying to complete the puzzle that the shmup elements (aside from the obligatory boss battles) were just background noise to an extent. Given that there are many fans of either of the game’s genres who don’t appreciate the other, the compromises made to satisfy the concept may make it hard to find an audience for.

Umihara Kawase BaZooKa - Credit where it is due, I can’t say I’ve ever played anything quite like this game. Mixing elements of an action platformer, a bit of an odd shooter, and I suppose ideally a fighting game it actually took a little while to take it all in. If you’re playing solo you’re likely going to hit the Challenge mode, which mostly consists of you trying your best to “hook” an enemy with your fishing reel, get them pulled in, and then knock out as many of their friends as possible by using that former enemy (or object) as your bazooka shot. Of course, some enemies aren’t as easy to deal with, it was ones you needed to do a “jump attack” to knock out that I found annoying though since you couldn’t simply jump and land on them, you’d instead double jump close enough to them and your character would then attack them that way. Weird and didn’t work very well. With some friends around, or if you’re thinking you’ll find someone to play with online (no dig on this title specifically, online communities for indie games are typically short-lived at best), you can also hit the game’s battle mode which really ends up being an odd and far more limited version of a game like Smash. I suppose if you’ve got a connection to this license the roster of 22 characters (who, in my eyes, mostly look only minorly different) may be exciting but if you’re someone like me just seeing a bunch of anime characters in an unusual action game it may be tougher to generate much enthusiasm.

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