Tuesday, April 27

Mini Reviews: April 27th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Smelter [X Plus] (Nindie Choice!) -
Appropriately named, as it combines elements of multiple styles of gaming, Smelter is a game that defies a simple explanation. One moment having you tackle enemies as a side-scrolling adventure, the next having you take on tough precision platforming levels (that are optional, but who can turn down a challenge), and then finally challenging you to engage in some real-time strategic combat in the initial going it can be a lot to take in. While I wouldn’t say all aspects are firing on all cylinders, for me the strategic element felt more bolted on than polished enough to stand on its own when compared to the other areas, it does make for an engaging experience that keeps things interested and a bit unpredictable at times. While I’d still say the thrilling opening anime sequence overshadows the in-game excitement a bit (it’s pretty damned cool and taps into my child of the 80s brain heavily) even with as many titles as I’ve played through on the Switch this stands out as being its own thing, and pretty confidently so, making it notable and worth a look.

Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers [Twilight Frontier] - While fighting games have been around for quite some time, and each franchise certainly has its own signature feel, there are certain constants gamers have come to expect. Then, every once in a while, someone new comes along and shakes things up… though whether that is good, bad, or somewhere in between is typically in the eye of the beholder. I’d say Touhou Hyouibana falls somewhere squarely in the middle, absolutely innovating and possessing a unique multi-level style that, in many ways, feels like a blend of a fighter and a bullet hell shooter. Add to that the fact that its look is distinct and quite gorgeous and I don’t doubt the game will have fans. That said, while the move sets per fighter have their own sort of flow and style you can slowly get accustomed to the lack of guidance in how the moves and mechanics work feels like something out of a few decades ago where people would get a strategy guide to help progress. Regardless, there’s no doubt it’s a unique fighter worth giving a look if you’ve been looking for something to break the traditional mold.

Buildings Have Feelings Too! [Blackstaff Games] - Featuring anthropomorphic buildings who have many of the same quirks, cliques, and pet peeves that their human occupants do, there’s no doubt Buildings Have Feelings Too is a bit odd. Playing out somewhere between a building sim, strategy title, and a puzzle game your key to success is in understanding how to look at what each building wants and needs and then reorganizing and developing what you have to work with into a smashing success. The tricky part is trying to divine what you need to do at times, navigating through the various screens that can feel a bit cumbersome with the controller to determine a course of action. Where it feels like it falls down a bit is where it feels like the road to success is often a predetermined one, not one you’ll have the option to work out with a style all your own. Even so, the charm and personality of the game’s writing and quirky style help to at least make it a reasonably entertaining title for strategy fans who are looking for something a bit off the beaten path.

Mystic Fate [JanduSoft] - At first glance the voxel-based dungeons (though perhaps a bit sparse on detail) and puzzle-like elements of working your way through in Mystic Date are at least interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take too long before it all feels a bit too bare bones to the point where it almost seems more like an Early Access title working out the basics before fleshing everything out for a final release. Getting accustomed to the mechanics of your coin attack and how and when you’re able to retrieve them at times feels a bit too much like guesswork, and issues like trying to get consistency with aiming as you try to shoot them out is a bit too shaky for its own good. There’s potential for enjoyment here, just you need to be willing to make some serious compromises to get there.

EQI [Hyperstrange] - When you’re working in the budget gaming space it can be tricky to define a fair basis for expectations, but while a lower asking price can make room for being more forgiving you can still sense when things have sort of run off the rails. With a very unusual look, first-person puzzling play, and reasonably cool soundtrack EQI is a bit much to take in at first, especially since you’re given precious little in the way of real guidance on effective play. In the end it’s a 3D puzzle platformer that allows you to rotate the level, but the way this works can be off-putting since there’s a fixed way it rotates rather than it being relative to your perspective so this can, at times, be quite aggravating when you get turned around and aren’t sure what will happen when you trigger it. Throw in not too many levels overall, a dreadful decision to map running to pressing down on one of the analog sticks (making the attempt of running jumps uncomfortable), and just a generally unrefined experience and it has some significant issues.

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