Monday, March 15

Mini Reviews: March 15th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


WRC 9 [KT Racing] (Nindie Choice!) -
While simmy racing and I don’t often get along I can at least appreciate titles that are meant to appeal to folks looking for a tougher challenge. In the past the WRC series has always felt to me like it was on the edge of having the entire package put together but this iteration seems to have really found the right balance quality in all of its aspects to be worthy of attention. Rally racing here will be a challenge to get used to as you’re not just dealing with windy and usually narrow tracks that have no shoulder, but then throwing in weather and surface type considerations as well. Getting the feel of how to make optimum turns will take some investment and early on my tendency to oversteer was also hard to get over. Behind the racing there’s then an entire team management component as well, adding another layer to the experience as you’ll need to be savvy about your personnel in the hopes of making your life progressively easier with new sponsors and refinements in your racing performance. Granted, there’s really no competition in this space right now but if you’re bored with the relatively simplicity of the platforms many more arcade-oriented racers WRC 9 has proven to be worthy of your time.


Sir Lovelot [pixel.games] (Nindie Choice!) - Challenging retro-style platforming on a budget often isn’t pretty, with many titles simply showing poor overall design and hiding that behind the guise of deliberate difficulty. Refreshingly Sir Lovelot, while being rough around some edges, manages to deliver more than its price would imply with thoughtful level design full of hidden secrets, reasonably-good controls, and even a bit of cute charm to boot. While at first finding everything on your initial run through a level will be common but pretty quickly if you want to find it all you’ll need to take a critical look at everything and even take some risks to check on your hunches. It’s not necessarily a deep or lengthy experience but among many contemporaries that don’t often show much effort or polish it’s a stand out in the budget space for putting in some genuine effort.


Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure [Vector Unit] - When you load up a kart racing game on any system, let alone the Switch, the biggest challenge is to try to enjoy the game on its own merits and not merely compare it to Mario Kart. Even trying to clear your mind and be open to only what has been put in front of you though, while Beach Buggy Racing 2 has some variety in its racing types and power-ups there’s no mistaking the feel of its more mobile-based roots. There just isn’t much nuance or room for advanced technique with the driving, so many of the power-ups are practically instant hit by nature and can’t really be avoided by their target, and in the end this all makes the experience a bit more fast food in its overall feel. That said, the asking price is far cheaper and the lack of nuance also may make it far more approachable to a casual crowd whose expectations aren’t set to the Mario Kart standard.


Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic [EastAsiaSoft] - While it’s possible that this style of arcade action puzzling this title represents may bring to mind more seedy offerings from Japan my first introduction to it was in the classic arcade game Qix. You’ll control a pointer and your goal is to slowly chip away at an open space while avoiding enemies, trying to uncover the majority of the play field before moving on. For obvious reasons this applied well to games that would expose more inappropriate material bit by bit but beneath it all the gameplay never lost its element of strategy and challenge as you’d try to uncover the board. With experience you’ll find certain tactics can be very effective to help clear large areas safely, but the trick is always having some patience to go with a smart plan. In this case the anime characters being revealed are much more clothed and generally appropriate, possibly disappointing some, but that leaves what’s actually some respectable arcade-style play as the main draw.


GraviFire [Sometimes You] - Of all the typical puzzle game variations I think the one I get bored by the most quickly tends to be the box pusher, partially due to its simplicity but then also because it has been so thoroughly done that it’s unusual to find anything creative or really different offered with it. To its credit, GraviFire does manage to add a wrinkle to keep its box pushing from being completely generic, with a gravity manipulation mechanic, and that does add a layer of strategy to things. However, I didn’t find its rules completely intuitive and there’s no real explanation so it gets off to a rocky start. Even once you’re on board though even the layer it adds just can’t really keep this from feeling like a run-of-the-mill puzzler.

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