Monday, June 14

Mini Reviews: June 14th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection [Team Ninja] (AAA Choice!) -
Having been a fan of the Ninja Gaiden series in its vintage incarnations I’d always heard good things about the modern series but hadn’t ever had the pleasure. With them now available on the Switch I’m happy to say that, for the most part, they live up to the hype and deliver an increasingly intense experience that performs reasonably well… though if you’re without the benefit of a Pro Controller or playing it handheld I wouldn’t consider it as ideal for enjoyment without some frustration. Starting with Sigma the core style of the series gets established and though, at times, I found the level design to be a bit wonky there’s no doubt that the action delivers. Stepping up the heat with the sequel, everything feels like it got an upgrade with more refined play, weapons that feel even more fun to use, and quite a bit more craziness that helps propel it to what I’d consider the best title in the trilogy. While the third title, Razor’s Edge, absolutely goes all in on making everything even more intense I’d say it often falls into the trap of everything getting muddled and the action difficult to follow. The main culprit is the camera, which in all 3 titles can sometimes really be your enemy, but with the on-screen chaos that Razor’s Edge thrives on the problem is more pronounced. Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of crazy ninja hacking and slashing it’ll be hard not to have a smile on your face working your way through this collection… just preferably in docked mode with something a bit more robust than the stock JoyCon, which struggles with this sort of intense play.


Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town [imaginarylab] (Nindie Choice!) - The point-and-click adventure has been around since roughly forever and the sort of renaissance the genre has enjoyed over the past few years, care of indie developers, has thoroughly proven it can still have legs. Willy Morgan is a title created in the image of the old LucasArts classics, featuring a fair amount of creativity, quirk, and entertaining dialogue, but I also found it to be well-executed. The challenge, more often than not, in these games is to make puzzles unique without also making them a bit inscrutable. While opinions could vary I’d say that among its brethren I found the problems that needed solving here to be pretty smart and, for the most part, sensible… something that can be hard to say when you spend a fair amount of time hitting strategy guides to make sense of things in many other adventures. Throw in a clean and somewhat unique animation style, deviating from the classic pixel-art look, and adventure fans should consider adding Bone Town to their travel itinerary.

Piczle Cells [Rainy Frog] - It has been interesting to watch how the various players in the puzzle game making space have differentiated themselves. Whether the focus has been on simplicity, polish, or some other intangible quality even titles that essentially play the same way have been able to have a different feel to them. I’ve been a fan of the typical Piczle approach, typically juicing things up with a splash of color and quirk with its Professor and other assorted characters. Cells has at least pieces of the formula in place, and there’s no doubt that the style of combining globs that form bigger globs brings a degree of challenge in a style they haven’t tackled yet, though it’s not an unfamiliar puzzle type either. There’s unfortunately just something about it that feels more sterile and lacking in personality than their typical offering, and perhaps there’s just not a great deal of opportunity to inject it here. Cells will provide a reasonable degree of head scratching if that’s what you’re seeking, it’s just lacking in the flair I typically associate with the franchise.

Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt [Digital Dreams] - Oh, the mixed feelings when I saw this title. As a life-long fan of dinosaurs the potential for fun screamed out at me, undoubtedly boosted a bit by the suggestive “box art” for the game featuring you standing close to the head of a hulking T-Rex. That said, while I can understand how people can enjoy the challenge of hunting, I’ve never quite found the experience to be terribly thrilling in video game form. Carnivores, for me, is misnamed since in the early going you won’t be hunting apex or even less formidable predators, you’ll instead be working to pick off their herbivorous brethren, and starting out it’s very slow going at that. Try to avoid being downwind, work to get a decent spot after spotting a dino in your tracker, work to line up a shot, and hope you connect and take it down. The thing is, even as hunting simulators go, there’s a sterility to the environment you’re in that fails to immerse you and periodic quirks and bugs further pull you out of “the hunt” with some regularity. The result makes it tough to pull out satisfaction, though at least as you get further improved gear and more ambitious targets at least liven things up a bit. If you’re looking to get more impressive trophies on your virtual hunting lodge this may work for you, but if you’re just looking to capture the sort of excitement the game’s name and art imply you’ll find it lacking.

Hentai Vs. Evil [Axyos Games] - Hoo boy, where to begin with this bit of anime gal cheesecake mixed with what’s ultimately highly generic play. Your goal here is really to stumble through and collect more stuff for your “visual stimulation” but since there are only two additional gals and a handful of new outfits it isn’t much. To unlock said content you’ll need to brave the game’s “ambitious” 2 modes which play almost completely alike in one of 3 pretty generically-themed environments shooting at brainless swarming monsters until you die… then go out again. In theory, the highlight of the game is the ability to make your character run around topless but the joke’s a bit on you if that’s your bag. Since you play in a behind-the-back third person perspective, unless you use the game’s photo mode you wouldn’t be looking at any of it to begin with. Calling this a cynical attempt to string together a bare minimum of listless and unbalanced gameplay then wrap it up in the ability to see virtual boobs, but only sometimes, may seem harsh… yet is accurate.

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