Monday, December 21

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

Shakes on a Plane -
Ever since the likes of Diner Dash (and some others) were a big hit in the casual space the time management action game genre has slowly evolved but kept the basics intact, mostly just throwing additional complexity into the mix. In the case of Shakes on a Plane the hook is that you’re working as members of the cabin crew on an airplane and whether working solo (alternating control between 2 characters) or playing with up to 3 of your friends careful coordination and efficiency are essential to success. Aside from the layouts of your stations often being completely ridiculously inconvenient the challenge will be dealing with passengers trying to get back to their seats, shifts which will slow you down and send the drink cart careening down the aisle, and a variety of other airline-specific hazards. While generally casual in nature, make no mistake, this will push you once it gets rolling along, and given some of the unpredictability of some things happening and their specific timing it can be frustrating. However, if you love the genre or have some friends ready to take it on it can be engaging for the proper (and properly skilled) audience.

Freddy Spaghetti - OK, so just the name’s title made me curious enough to take a nibble, and while I wouldn’t consider Freddy a satisfying meal of a game it’s at least a strange appetizer. You’ll play through the story of Freddy’s initial creation and early (and somewhat troubled at times) existence over the course of 50 levels, engaging in a variety of weirdo physics challenges. The triggers control either of Freddy’s ends and holding them down and then releasing them with the proper timing will also allow him to jump. “Walking” then is a matter of getting down the timing of alternating your trigger presses, getting him to essentially move end to end in an odd fashion. Now take those controls and throw them into a variety of situations that require some amount of precision and dexterity and you have the entire experience in a nutshell, with each experience slowly telling some portion of Freddy’s story. It’s not a great game by any means but I’ll credit it with being fully committed to its weirdness and doing as much as it can to eke out every bit of fun it can with those pretty limited means.

Unto the End - Mixing together the general feel of grand retro action adventures along the lines of Prince of Persia or Out of This World with some more modern touches, Unto the End has the bones of a solid, if aggravating experience. In the same vein as those classics death is always a constant option and you’ll find yourself running into lethal surprises on a regular basis, learning where not to go or at least what to do with some repetition. If it weren’t for the game’s combat feeling pretty wonky and hit or miss (the game calls it challenging or Souls-like, I just don’t think it’s terribly clean or responsive) I think the experience would be more broadly enjoyable. You’re obviously not meant to be a skilled warrior, and with some experimentation and luck you can improve your general tactics, but it’s really tough to feel like you’re fully in control of your fate at times and your enemies aren’t anywhere near as fumbly as you are when they’re on the attack. If you’re up for the challenge and/or frustrations it’s a decent, if short, adventure unlike pretty well anything on the system, just probably an acquired taste of an experience.

Body of Evidence - Somehow games involving the disposal of bodies and clean-up of crime scenes has become a niche genre, and though it certainly makes for morbid play it is at least pretty different conceptually. In this game you’ll be tasked with disposing of and cleaning up the scene of a crime while on the clock before the authorities arrive. In each scenario your methods and activities will vary a bit, ranging from the equipment you’ll use to get rid of those pesky corpses and/or body parts and some of the supporting tasks that are necessary to complete to get everything looking as immaculate as possible. Any speck of blood or piece of furniture or equipment that you haven’t addressed will be counted against you, but the tricky thing is you’ll need to methodically try to check everything yourself, there’s no indication beforehand what may be out of place and while you’ll be penalized for anything you miss it won’t give you any help knowing what was wrong so if you want to get to to 100% you’ll just need to try it all again and be more thorough. It’s novel, but it’s hardly without its flaws.

Killer Chambers - There’s definitely something a certain segment of the gaming public digs about challenging games. They aren’t for everyone, for sure, but certain repeated failure can also make the triumphs all the more delicious. Killer Chambers, as I suppose the name suggests, most certainly falls into that challenging category, making you work your arrow and various trap-dodging skills to their fullest. At first it reminded me a bit of Disc Room in a way with its overall spirit, but playing a bit longer that comparison actually ended up coloring my opinion more in a negative way. While the fact that all of the attack patterns are set I suppose attempts to make your task a bit more fair, able to develop muscle memory for every move left, right, and then jumping at just the right time, it’s also not quite as interesting. When paired with the very compacted space you generally work in rather than more sprawling areas full of opportunities your ability to shine similarly feels confined. I can still see where a portion of the audience will appreciate the gauntlet being thrown down but having seen other games with different approaches I think I’d rather work on my on-the-fly dodging skills rather than executing a very rigidly-defined routine.

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