Monday, March 1

Mini Reviews: March 1st Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Horned Knight [Josep Monzonis Hernandez] -
If you thirst for the good old days of dodging traps, knocking out monsters, and more often that not doing quite a bit of dying along your adventure when you fail, Horned Knight may be just what you’re looking for. With a simple pixel art style and not too many controls to fuss with it’s a game purely focused on timing and precision, and even in the early going you can expect to do some serious dying. From stage to stage some of the designs I’d say can feel a bit more cheap than others, but in general that’s consistent with most other titles that set out to challenge you. While only the more determined set who enjoy the ups and downs of working to conquer difficult dungeons need apply, for the price it delivers a reasonably good experience.

Under Leaves [RedDeerGames] - It’s always difficult to review titles made with the intention of reaching a more casual and mild audience. Under Leaves is very much in that vein, in no way bringing intensity or action and instead focused on soothing sounds and colors in its artistic locales from all over the world. In each location you’ll be charged with finding multiples of a specific shape, moving between multiple screens to try to track them all down. In some cases it can require more effort than others and if you get stuck there’s a provision for help if you need it. By no means would this likely be for more mainstream gamers but if you’re a parent with gamers-to-be or simply someone who enjoys taking some time to unwind with something simpler it accomplishes what it set out to do quite effectively.

Castle Kong [Drowning Monkeys LLC] - Fans of a certain mustachioed carpenter (at the time) taking on a large and equally-famous gorilla will, no doubt, quickly notice some similarities here. Pretty shamelessly cribbing off of not just the general mechanics of that Nintendo classic but even, for the most part, the stage designs it would be a stretch to call Castle Kong original in pretty well any way. That said, while it lacks the nuance and charm of this famous arcade inspiration it’s at least a decent enough knock-off that you can throw some time into. Some added incentive for a little while after launch is an official contest with some cash prizes for those who go the extra mile and push to be the best on the leaderboards. If you’d like an opportunity to show your old-school arcade cred it may be a good opportunity and it will throw some challenges in your way trying to do so.

Spooky Chase [Burning Goat Studio] - Simplicity can work in either direction for budget games, either getting what it manages just right so it's a success or not quite putting the pieces together so it's only middling at best. Spooky Chase does at least have a novel approach, working as a platformer where you're able to change directions and jump as you try to get to flags placed around multiple platforms in the stage. What sets it apart is that you'll need to do this on multiple passes, with the challenge being that you're able to run into the previous versions of yourself. As you can imagine, once you're on the fifth run and above things can get crowded. This does remain challenging, and at least at first feels fresh, but unfortunately the further along you go the more the novelty wears off and without much outside of that central hook to distinguish it even with a budget price the game quickly becomes forgettable.

Void Gore [Panda Indie Studio] - While arcade-style shooters don’t necessarily need to have a great deal of variety in order to be interesting I’d say the rule would be the simpler your game systems are the more flavor you’ll need to include in order to sustain interest. Void Gore has the simplistic systems down, featuring a vanilla shooting attack, a small variety of potential power-ups, and a zone shield that works on a cooldown and will both wipe out enemy fire and damage enemies within its slowly-growing area. Unfortunately, for the most part, the game from there is all about trying to eke out more points and survive longer while facing pretty well the “same general enemies but harder” until you stop. It’s not terrible but it also really fails to do much to distinguish itself, even at its low-budget price.

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