Tuesday, February 23

Mini Reviews: February 23rd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Blizzard Arcade Collection [Blizzard Entertainment] (Nindie Choice!) -
Before they became Blizzard and released the likes of the WarCraft and Diablo series, among others, the folks at then Silicon & Synapse created a diverse set of 3 very different titles that showed they were set for greatness. Released in a single collection you can now play and appreciate them all in both their original as well as enhanced (how thoroughly varies) forms. Starting with the one I never owned and only rented a few times in theory I should have liked Blackthorne more since it has DNA in common with cinematic adventures the likes of Prince of Persia and Out of This World. You’ll need to run, jump, climb, shoot, dodge, and blow things up in this title, but there’s a stilted sort of quality to your character movement and overall play that never quite did it for me. Still, I know many people with many fond memories of it so I know my opinion isn’t necessarily the popular one. From there things take a big step up in the form of The Lost Vikings, a puzzle platform action title that will have you shifting between your 3 characters who each possess a key skill, with the challenge being using them each properly in each situation in order to progress. Considering it’s a template that went on to inspire many other titles including the popular Trine series it’s a smart title that’s fun and well executed. Saving the best for last Rock N Roll Racing is absolutely one of my favorite games from the SNES era and it’s actually a racing experience I prefer to even Super Mario Kart. Possibly one of the best overall combat racers ever made the fact that Blizzard went the extra mile at some point to give it an upgrade to support widescreen play, to include actual classic rock tracks (with a few new ones added), and to support a 4-player split-screen mode really puts a smile on my face. For retro fans who grew up with these titles or anyone out to see the excellent start the people behind Blizzard had before they hit it huge this is a must-have collection.

SNK Vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millenium [SNK Corporation] (Nindie Choice!) - While there has been a whole series of conversions of the fighting games from the Neo Geo Pocket, and many have been decent, until this point none of them quite felt worthy of more broad support than folks looking for some nostalgia. While there’s no getting around the limitations of it being tied to that much older hardware, with the reduced screen area for gameplay and 2 buttons for control most notably, as a fan of fighting games from both companies the representation in this specific title makes it noteworthy. With a mix of characters from multiple series on both the Capcom and SNK sides, as well as options to play with a singular fighter, paired up for a tag team, or in a team of 3, there’s ample opportunity to choose the style that suits your preference. In addition, don’t let the 2-button set-up fool you, it’s truly impressive how many moves they were able to cram in for each fighter, all with a feel of flow that’s easy to get into hitting signature moves and executing satisfying combos. While obviously there are more technical and visually-impressive fighters on the system this budget-friendly and surprisingly deep fighter shouldn’t be counted out, it’s a winner.

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos [Heliocentric Studios] (Nindie Choice!) - As a huge fan of roguelikes and someone who appreciates games that can bring people together I’ll come out and say I have mixed feelings on this title, though as a whole I think it gets more right than wrong. Working as a sort of rogue-ified version of the 16-bit likes of Link to the Past you’ll find yourself in a world of procedurally-generated dungeons to conquer, loot to collect, and also dead bodies to pile up… and many of them will be those of your fallen heroes. The fact that you can party up locally or online is a plus, and a pretty unique feature within the genre, so that’s very much appreciated and playing with others helps make up for the absolute lack of any real story which really just charges you with soldiering on because of “loot and reasons” pretty much. All that said, I can’t help but feel like the experience is a patch (or a few) away from realizing its potential. In its current state the early game and meta progression are painfully slow and that makes for too much dying mixed with a lot of repetition. Having to unlock each class and upgrade them to make them viable feels like an unneeded chore and with so many choices inundating you for upgrades the overall experience feels unfocused. Throw in a tendency towards cheap deaths to traps (and freaking snakes in pots) and rather than it feeling like you’ve died because you need to refine your skills it feels a bit like it’s purposely slowing you down just because it can. There’s a lot in the game to like but the recommendation is still given with some qualifiers I hope can get worked out in the coming weeks.

Dry Drowning [Leonardo Interactive] - Operating somewhere between a visual novel and a classic adventure Dry Drowning is a bit of an odd bird. It’s future-noir setting and theme are a plus and it does a pretty good job of pulling you into its story and characters. That said, in terms of your level of engagement and cleverness in making you a participant in the proceedings are  a bit lacking, so people looking for a mystery to actually “solve” will likely be disappointed by the more on-rails feel everything seems to have and the pretty minimal investigative portions. The story, as expected, offers some twists and interest but unless you’re fine with watching more often than engaged in playing its overall mix may be a bit too far on the casual side to be noteworthy.

PUSS! [teamCOIL] - As a huge fan of weird and funky games PUSS! certainly has elements that give it appeal. Touted, accurately, as a “dodge-em-up”, seemingly trying to cram every color in the spectrum into your eyes, and featuring an assortment of feline clip art and sounds it more than earns it’s weirdo cred. But is it necessarily a really good game? Well, I can see where there’ll be challenge hounds and oddball cat fans who may be amused by it all enough to persist through its patience-testing stages but mechanically under the hood it’s a bit murky, much like the somewhat blurry overall visual quality. Amusing? Certainly. Great? Meow let’s not push it...

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