Friday, December 11

Mini Reviews: December 11th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Tanuki Justice -
There are, no doubt, loads of retro games of all flavors and degrees of quality on the Switch, and among them Tanuki Justice stands out as probably one of the most authentic not based on a property I’ve seen. The thing is, that’s both a good and a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for. It is absolutely cut from the classic side-scrolling mold of the likes of Shinobi and many others, with trying to take out your enemies while on the run and avoiding their attacks. When you’re fully powered up with pick-ups that enemies will drop it’s pretty exciting and you may even feel a bit invincible as you plow your way through… until you don’t anymore. The other very retro thing the game does is heavily incentivize your success with the fact that once you die and get thrown back into the action at roughly the same point but without those power-ups most of the time your adventure is going to go south quickly from there. With some skill, experience, and luck you’ll be able to turn things around in the right spots but that’s all part of the challenge here, and folks looking for a fresh taste of that style of play should enjoy themselves with it.

Alt-Frequencies - Games that do things differently are always a treat on the system, and in terms of its approach there’s no doubt that Alt-Frequencies delivers in that regard. Armed only with a radio, the ability to move up and down the dial, the desire to uncover an unfolding story, and the means to record and send pieces of transmissions it will take you through an interesting (if unfortunately short) journey. This won’t likely be for everyone, working through the various stations in search of clues for how to proceed and then finding snippets that will satisfy your ongoing challenges. It can be a bit tedious, and if you don’t latch on to precisely what you’re looking to record it may be frustrating, but when you successfully advance things it’s also rewarding to keep the story going. The shame is that it shows promise for a more expansive and ambitious story but with it being a new idea perhaps it’s appropriate in its scope. If you’re a fan of games that don’t fit into traditional molds this is well worth checking out.

Out Of Space - While they don’t necessarily come along on as regular a basis as I’d like, co-op multiplayer games have actually become quite well-represented on the Switch and feature a variety of feels ranging from pretty casual to some higher degrees of intensity as well. Out Of Space is a bit of an oddity, and while it may look like a pretty light co-op game with you working with friends to clean up and maintain your space ship it quickly becomes clear that without a fair amount of cooperation and planning failure will always be an option. The first sign of trouble is actually seen in the tutorial where you’ll barely get your feet wet with basics before things just start feeling a bit complicated to try to digest everything once alone, let alone playing with up to 3 friends and mutually understanding the need to manage sleep, eating, buying essential items as needed, and dealing with setbacks at the hands of a steady onslaught of mucky aliens. If you and your friends or family have blown through the likes of Overcooked or Moving Out and are looking for something to raise the teamwork bar further this may not be a bad choice, but otherwise those titles or some others would probably be a better starting point than this often over-complicated co-op experience.

Commandos 2: HD Remaster - Well-regarded games from past generations getting a remaster are almost always a mixed bag. In the case of Commandos 2 I’d say it’s a split down the middle. Certainly it’s nice to see the game looking at least a bit more polished than in its original form, though there’s no doubt it is still rough around the edges, and the pretty unique tactical play it features is pretty uncommon on the system. That said, key areas like control are undoubtedly on the clunky side and the degree of trial and error you may need to go through to find success (absolutely be sure to save often) because of some wonky mechanics at times sour the experience a bit. The key to the game and enjoying it really ends up being how well you’re able to tolerate the bumpy road of knowing what you need to do but having it be more of a struggle than you’d expect to implement your plan. For those looking to reminisce on a beloved title I’d say there’s a stronger case to be made for checking it out, but for people without that nostalgia it’s more likely to be a disappointment.

I, AI - It’s absolutely vital that games, and probably most of all indie games, innovate and come up with new ways to approach genre play that’s been around for a while. That said, depending on what you change the result can really put you into a sort of no-win zone where fans of the genre are either bewildered or baffled at the gameplay you’ve implemented but the game looks enough like it’s a pure genre game that it has no hope of attracting non-genre fans. That really feels like where I, AI lands, as it is just plain odd. Visually it looks like a pretty polished straight-up arcade shooter but right from the opening level of the campaign where you’re playing as a spark of energy trying to avoid threats and even get to a ship it’s a rocky start. The problem is, once you have your ship it’s still decidedly odd and generally dull in terms of play. Perhaps most unfortunately the controls simply feel sloppy as you can’t make effective fine movements left and right which really stinks when you’re trying to quickly take out incoming ships. Just with so many terrific shooters out there on the Switch at every price point this feels like a serious misfire on pretty well all levels.

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