Friday, April 23

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

Picross S6 [Jupiter Corporation] (Nindie Choice!) -
The Picross series has been around for so long at some point that it has become a sort of puzzle game staple, but that can also make people a bit numb to it. While it is true that S6 is more along the lines of a new set of levels released on the same engine that isn’t to say the experience is in any way disappointing. On top of traditional Picross, doing it’s 2-color pixel art thing you have the more challenging (and possibly divisive) Mega Picross which does add a new layer of consideration to up the difficulty. Color Picross, added to the series a few iterations ago, is also a great challenge, though I’d still say I’ve seen multi-color interfaces implemented in a slightly better way overall. For me the real meat is in Clip Picross and the Bonus puzzles though, as they get quite a bit tougher still, and appropriately you’ll need to do the work cutting your teeth on the easier stuff to then unlock the bigger and more complex challenges. If you’re a big puzzle fan, and particularly if you’ve taken a break from the Picross series for a little while, this is a rock solid place to pick it back up and enjoy its polished play and steadily-increasing challenge level.

Hitchhiker: A Mystery Game [Mad About Pandas] (Nindie Choice!) - As the definition of what’s a game has continued to evolve and diversify over the years we’ve seen increasingly creative titles enter the space. In the case of Hitchhiker: A Mystery Game you have more of a semi-interactive experience than game, with you hopping a ride with a few very different people with whom you’ll have some very different conversations and experiences with… and with some point-and-click adventure-esque elements strewn about in between to keep you a little more engaged than simply clicking to advance the dialogue. The result is odd, at times unnerving, and certainly a bit unexpected. As would be the case in real life this won’t be a ride for everyone, for sure, but if you’re game for something different it will get you to that destination.

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion [Snoozy Kazoo] - Just from its pretty unusual title you could guess this will be a bit of an oddball ride, and though its length and depth are a little lacking there’s no doubt that Turnip Boy and his many associates bring a unique flavor to mostly traditional play. Playing mostly along the lines of an action RPG adventure you’ll be talking to your fellow plant life beings and working to find and then bring back the items they demand in order to advance the story. The combat isn’t particularly challenging, the puzzles aren’t often terribly inspired, and the humor is nice for flavor but is typically more quirky than laugh out loud funny. The result is suitably pleasant for a little while, but unless you’re really into the look and sense of humor it exudes you can probably hold off until it’s on sale.

Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia [Circus Atos] - Titles that target younger gamers are always a bit of a challenge to evaluate. Traditionally educational games have generally rightfully gotten a bad rap, as I grew up with some pretty awful examples of developers trying to make school-type subjects “fun”. Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia smartly aims at more of a semi-interactive experience, and that does further complicate evaluating it against intended games. All that said, there’s a simple charm and pleasant quality to the experience you’ll have exploring the small areas Little Mouse can get through, observing various flora and fauna and then being able to look up a variety of factoids on each of them. There may not be a gaming hook to it but the fact that it is pretty engaging and informative at once at least makes it pretty appealing as a form of edutainment.

The Skylia Prophecy [Ezekiel Rage] - Making throwback games has got to be a difficult proposition, especially when trying to find a balance between classic and modern sensibilities. The Skylia Prophecy certainly has some old school appeal if you like getting knocked around and a bit frustrated, and I don’t have an issue with games that are inherently challenging, especially when there’s some sort of reward for your perseverance. Another issue that crops up here though is that I’m not a big fan of controls and systems where it feels like you have artificially crippled controls to make things that hard for the sake of being hard, the way you trigger explosions being a great bad example. It’s not a bad game, and it is certainly easy on the budget, but there’s just a lack of overall polish that grates a bit in critical places.

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