Thursday, August 12

Mini Reviews: August 12th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Skydrift Infinity [Digital Reality] (Nindie Choice!) - One of the subgenres I’ll say I’m most disappointed having seen ride off into the sunset in recent generations is combat racing. It seems that the Mario Kart series has pretty well dominated that general space for quite some time and aside from people trying to replicate that formula (and generally failing) there hasn’t been much to choose from. That changes with Skydrift Infinity, which doesn’t just entertain with some great competitive combat, but also throws in the fact that you’re trying to do this in the air, adding to the challenge. You’ll work through a variety of events raging from being focused on speed, to combat as everyone fights to end up in first, to elimination races where you’ll be in a constant struggle to keep yourself out of last. Not everything is perfect, I do wish there were more tracks available (though at least they make full use of what they have with reverse races) and in some cases it can be pretty easy to lose track of where you’re supposed to go and where the boundaries are for you to race in, but the thrill of maneuvering through tight spaces, dodging buildings, and then blowing up your enemies helps to make up for it. If you’ve been feeling the need to race and blow some stuff up this will do a fair job of scratching that specific itch.


Project AETHER: First Contact [Sleepy Spider Studios] - As I’ve stated many times I’m a big fan of classic arcade shooting so when titles take that style of play and run with it, trying to add in some new spice, I’m always down to check it out. In the case of First Contact they really throw in at least two additional components rather than just one, with both the fact that you can use twin sticks to aim as you move around the screen and the ability with some weapons to charge up enemies and then detonate them in the hopes of blowing up or at least damaging other enemy ships. On top of that there’s a pretty satisfying variety in weapons you’ll be able to choose between, and you’ll be able to alternate between two of them as you go so you can get pretty strategic with how you approach your loadouts. All that said, in the end the general play just feels a bit bland. That isn’t to say it’s easy, you’ll have to be careful not to be overwhelmed in spots, but at the same time with so much strong competition on the system this shooter, for all of its attempts to make itself feel fresh, just doesn’t make much of a lasting impression in order to take a place in the higher echelon. 


Fire Tonight [Reptoid Games] - Working with a mix of a story of young love, where any distance apart can feel like agony, and some reasonably creative puzzle-solving Fire Tonight at least has a fresh general feel. That said, if the love story component isn’t something you’re craving, perhaps the essence of the puzzles, navigating through the city as you try to avoid fires (thus the game’s title) and the authorities, may not have enough flavor to sustain the experience. It’s not meant to be long or terribly deep, more of a light snack of story and some exploration that completes itself rather quickly. Not bad, but not terribly inspiring either.


Cardaclysm: Shards of the Four [Elder Games] - With a preponderance of deckbuilders on the Switch it has gotten increasingly difficult to distinguish anything but the most unique or well-crafted experiences. To its credit, Cardaclysm does things just a bit differently with how you manage your resources that allow you to summon creatures or use skills, and I found cards that would allow you to steal resources with attacks to be of particular use strategically. Choosing what to upgrade, upping the cost but also utility, is also a challenge that has to be managed carefully, so the care in trying to add complexity is appreciated. That said, the combat itself, which is an essential piece of the puzzle, still generally feels on the generic side here as a whole and lacking in pizzazz that keeps you on your toes, there can be a going through the motions element to it I don’t always find in the genre. If you’re a fan of deckbuilders the slightly different flavor to the strategic component may be enough to make it worth checking out though.


Smashroom [Forever Entertainment] - As you’d expect on a Nintendo system, there are loads of side-scrolling platformers of all styles and levels of quality. Obviously then, trying to stand out in a crowded eShop with so much competition is a challenge. Smashroom at least manages to distinguish itself a little bit with its somewhat unusual combat mechanics with a lack of a typical forward attack, and requiring that you work a little harder to dispatch enemies with what skills you do have, primarily your explosive ability which is also key to breaking up obstacles and propelling yourself around. I’ll give credit for it being different, but in this case I wouldn’t argue necessarily better as you often end up feeling very fragile and that often slows you down without adding much in the way of excitement. If you’re in the mood for a change of pace and style it may suit you though.

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