Thursday, October 1

Mini Reviews: October 2nd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Projection: First Light  [Nindie Choice!]
- I’ll admit that simply seeing this game for the first time I pretty well fell in love, completely digging the unusual aesthetics and the promise of creative puzzle platforming it showed. In execution, for the most part, Projection really delivers on its potential and represents a unique experience as a result. Wrapped in a story that’s honestly a bit odd, and yet entertaining, you play as quite the troublemaker who is drawn to a special butterfly and after a series of pretty silly but calamitous events finds herself in an old shadow theater and in the presence of some strange people in wonderfully ornate dress. Since there’s no dialogue of any kind these folks did often seem odd, but I ran with it nonetheless. The mechanics you’ll be playing with generally involve your ability to independently control a light source with the right stick, with the goal usually being to cast shadows using objects in the environment your character can stand on to use to get where she needs to go. While there are easier obvious ways to go with some effort, and perhaps using an object put in the right spot, what I loved was an ability to reach new out of the way places, really challenging me to experiment and often use more advanced techniques with some precision. Due to the extremely dynamic nature of the light and shadow things can at times get a little wonky and feel inconsistent, but since you’re in control of a light source that can be put anywhere I don’t see how this could have been avoided either. It’s absolutely one of the most creative puzzle platformers I’ve played in quite some time, making a beautiful title also a refreshingly unique one.

Alwa’s Legacy [Nindie Choice!] - Games that aspire to capture the look and feel of earlier eras can be a mixed bag, but when executed well can be quite a treat. Alwa’s Awakening was a rock solid entry in that vein, providing a challenge and plenty of great puzzles and boss fights with a vintage 8-bit look. With Legacy we’ve now moved into the 16-bit era and an overall look that’s appropriately far more vibrant and genuinely beautiful in places. With a small collection of spells you’ll acquire relatively quickly the game will challenge you to make smart use of them, both for conquering what can sometimes be tricky puzzles and platforming challenges (especially if you want to grab everything) and taking on some tough bosses as well. I would say more often than in most games I got into dead ends where I needed to more quickly understand I wasn’t meant to try to complete that area just yet, but some of that is due to a style of defying the obvious path. While sharing a whole lot of DNA functionally with its predecessor Alwa’s Awakening, Legacy ups the ante with a terrific 16-bit makeover and some new and worthy challenges.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 - Ever since the original title in the series way back in the day I’ve been a big RCT fan. While management games like this aren’t always very creative or fun (looking at a variety of theme park managers over the years, including a few duds on Switch), for the most part the proper titles in this franchise (not the terrible mobile-ized ruined ones) have been a treat. Everything about the game on the PC is here, including laying out and tweaking every detail of your rides and attractions, plotting out your research plans, managing your personnel, monitoring your guests to see what’s working and not, laying down scenery and theming to make things special, and best of all creating some truly wild and outstanding rollercoasters. The one big issue is that there’s no getting around doing all of that is pretty cumbersome with console controls. To the credit of the development team the radial menus and control scheme in general works well, though it does have a bit of an initial learning curve. Just competing against a mouse and especially a keyboard altering things like names or getting into deeper menus just takes far more time. Throw in the need to fight a bit too much with the camera in critical spots like during coaster construction and it’s hard to ignore some of the shortcomings in the control implementation. If you don’t have access to a PC that can play the game be assured, the depth of play here is 100% intact and absolutely worthwhile, just be ready to work for it a bit harder than you would where the game was designed to work first.

Hot Shot Burn - Promising some “hot” multiplayer shooting action, to its credit Burn doesn’t lack in personality. With a handful of characters to choose from (quite a few requiring an unlock) that differ not just in their look but also weapon and special it also manages to do a better job of differentiating characters than most that just go with aesthetics. Play is in relatively small and simple arenas, though they do have some variety and special attributes in some cases to make things interesting. Where it comes to control I was really hoping for a twin-stick setup to make aiming independent of movement but unfortunately (probably to make single joycon play viable) it’s single stick, which has that tendency to make the action a bit janky at times as you’re trying to evade and shoot somehow at the same time. As this type of game goes I’d say it’s at least above average but while you can go it solo against bots this is simply a multiplayer game through and through, and its longevity is dependent on what you and your friends (or, if you’re lucky and able to scare up some random competition on online) may be looking for.

Nubarron: The Adventure of an Unlucky Gnome - Trying to make a puzzle platformer a success on the Switch has become a bit of a challenge given the thick library already available in the genre. Nubarron takes a decent stab at making a splash with a cute character, lush setting, and some decent (though perhaps uninspired) puzzle action. However, not far into the game I started noticing a general sluggishness in the controls and gameplay, despite there honestly not being much to the game visually. It unfortunately got worse with my jump sometimes not responding at all, and being mindful of the fact I regularly play super-quick action games where precision is everything I can confirm it is in no way related to my trusty Pro controller. Closing the game down and returning seemed to improve matters briefly but once I was sensitive to the issue responsiveness continued to be a persistent problem and concern. Perhaps a patch can remedy this issue but in its current state I can’t recommend the game.

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