Tuesday, March 9

Mini Reviews: March 9th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

PAKO Caravan [Tree Men Games] (Nindie Choice!) - Taking something old and juicing it up to help make it feel new again can be tricky business. Having seen quite a few indie titles tackle the challenge of improving on the simple-but-addictive play of the classic Snake without an obvious success, that fact has been thoroughly proven. PAKO Caravan, thankfully, manages to pull off the magic trick with a simple-but-effective visual style, some key enhancements to make things a little more interesting and challenging, and forcing you to continue to adapt to slightly different vehicular behaviors as you progress to keep you from feeling too comfortable. There are no brakes, you’re trying to avoid obstacles and your own caravan as you continuously add to it, and additional objectives like knocking down cones or collecting letters incentivize some risk-taking to claim stars that will continue to unlock new scenarios. I do wish the turning controls weren’t quite so consistently on the loose side, as your momentum can be hard to counteract when you often are spending time along an edge or dodging obstructions, but as a refined version of a classic it does its legacy proud.

Everhood [Foreign Gnomes] - As a huge fan of music of all kinds any games that manage to incorporate music and rhythm into the mix tend to catch my attention. Everhood is a bit of an oddball, looking and in some areas feeling like an understated quirky RPG ala Undertale but veering off on its own path with regards to its approach for battles. Rather than engage in turn-based combat or any of the expected modes Everhood will have you working your reflexes, often memory (as you try to memorize attack patterns), and your sense of rhythm as you try to jump and dodge your way through each foe’s onslaught. While you can opt to alter your skill level, really just getting more lenient as you go down by allowing you to recover health quicker, from even just the tutorial you’re going to get challenged more quickly than the normal curve, and depending on your comfort level this could be a problem discouraging players before they’ve even become invested in the story that early on. It’s absolutely unique, and that has merit, but its minimalism, early degree of difficulty, and story that pays off as you get further in but just seems odd at first make it hard to say will be for everyone.

Super Metboy! [Rebuild Games] - Making games that are relatively simple but challenging  in their action and then incentive you in some way to keep you playing over and over again can be a tricky business without a doubt. In the old days the high score screen was the usual driver, and certainly there are now online leaderboards, but sometimes just a solid provision for local competition and some sort of meta progression where you unlock new characters or abilities these days as well… something Metboy does admirably with plenty of upgrades and varied core characters. With you simply trying to bounce, shoot, and spin your way around the screen, taking out enemies, Super Metboy additionally doesn’t inundate you with things to learn so that also makes it quick to pick up and play, a feature that also lends itself to its simple but fun multiplayer appeal. You and up to 3 friends can work cooperatively while vying for high scores since it doesn’t take long to get the hang of the mechanics. It’s not a revolution by any means but it’s quick to pick up and enjoy, and there’s something to be said for that.

Wind Peaks [Actoon Studio] - Hidden item games are certainly one of the early staples of the tablet and mobile gaming revolution, but to date have only been marginally represented on the Switch. Working to add some value to the proposition, Wind Peaks tries to change up the formula with a few variations in your typical basic activities and looks great as well, sporting visuals reminiscent of the likes of the cartoon Gravity Falls. One definite issue is that while it is fun while it lasts the experience in this case seems to come to an end more quickly than expected, clocking in only at a couple of hours, so put up against a few contemporaries with a bit more content and not wildly different experiences it falls down a peg on that distinction.

Bob Help Them [No Gravity Games] - I’ll be the first to say that it’s a good thing that not all games are made for everyone, in fact there are niche genres and offerings that are a godsend to smaller segments out there looking for specific types of content. That said, there are also games that for whatever reason don’t seem well-suited to particularly anyone either because of their themes or other issues. Bob Help Them falls into this sort of black hole in my eyes, essentially boiling down to a crafting game where you’ll collect or combine certain items within a limited amount of time to satisfy various people you’ll meet. The thing is, that’s pretty much all there is… and very quickly it gets to be quite repetitive even if the specifics of what you need to collect and combine may vary. Perhaps it would work as a game for younger gamers who are trying to improve their memory skills, remembering recipes for certain things, and then where people and resources may be but that’s about it for this overly simple offering.

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