Friday, August 27

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


Orbibot [PSGames] -
As an old school arcade fan I’ll just plain admit I’m a sucker for any game that remotely resembles the classic Marble Madness. I can’t help it, rolling a ball around, and the unique challenges that can present, just always has some appeal to me. Orbibot, stripped down to its roots, is built on a mix of focused and careful control and what can often be clever action puzzles you’ll need to work out solutions for and then execute. While its low-budget price gives it a reasonable degree of latitude for lacking in polish there are times where a bit of jankiness in the controls can be an obstacle, most often tied to the fact that the camera must be managed constantly, and in some areas of some maps that can present some challenges, especially when precision is often required to keep yourself on the track. Then there are just small details like the hidden items (that look kind of like tiny piƱatas) that are both not explained but then also not reflected in the main menu interface so you’re then unable to know whether you may have even gotten them all in a given level. For what you’ll pay it’s not a bad deal or experience, it’s just in that space where it’s merely good and you just wish a little more effort had been expended to get it another rung or two higher on the ladder of success.


Where’s Samantha [Respect Studios Ltd] - Broadly agreeable and family-friendly titles aren’t always easy to find, so when you come across one like Where’s Samantha it’s typically a nice change of pace from the more demanding fare on the eShop. With its cute little cloth-based characters, color-changing mechanic that will let you either grow or split yourself up, and its generally smart but quickly quite repetitive platforming it has some appeal for a more casual crowd, it’s just important to keep your expectations in check as you begin digging a little deeper as many levels will tend to blur together with their overall similarities as it’s not unusual to feel a sense of deja vu as you work your way through the game.For people just looking for some light entertainment that won’t be too taxing it may be a good game to unwind with, but if you’re looking for something more creative and fun there’s simply not much here to sustain that feeling for very long.


King’s Bounty II [1C Entertainment] - This is one of those titles that, when you see a well-cut trailer for it, jumps out as having some real potential. While hardly perfect it’s attractive enough, and there’s a somewhat cinematic quality to the storytelling that has some appeal to draw you in. It’s when you spend some time with it that issues begin to creep in and tarnish the experience. Movement and getting to objectives can be ploddingly slow, even on a horse, and aside from simply having you wander to eat up time there never feels like there’s a purpose to justify the time wasted on such a simple thing. Then quirks in the game’s interface begin to show up, with some turning to annoyances in how sluggish or poorly-conceived they can be in terms of intuitiveness and efficiency. It’s when you get into the tactical combat that this feels like the issues come to a head though, where even with some instruction performing what are normally simple tasks like switching between units as you plot out your strategy have been handled poorly, or simply understanding why some actions can’t be performed contextually as you try to get through battles. Perhaps with patching this title could better reach its potential but there’s no ignoring that in its current state it’s asking for a lot of patience for only middling enjoyment as a reward in return.


A Night at the Races [Mushy Jukebox] - This is one of those titles you run into periodically that’s simply hard to wrap your head around. The majority of the time playing it you’ll be jumping and dashing around in a pretty fast-moving retro platformer that’s admittedly a challenge, especially due to its breakneck speed. Sitting in a layer on top of that is a slowly-developing story in the “real world” that’s pushing you to git gud in a hurry at said game in the hopes of winning a tournament that will get you out of the financial bind you’re in. It’s strange, will challenge your reactions, and can be a tad glitchy in places, but if you enjoy playing games that seem to be teed up for the speedrunning community it may have some appeal.


Thea 2: The Shattering [MuHa Games] - While I considered the original Thea to be more of a middling hybrid deckbuilder and strategy game (though with a fair amount of story to go with it as a plus), hearing that it had a sequel coming I had hoped things would turn around. Unfortunately, for me it feels like if anything the developers doubled down on the pretty oppressive complexity, trying to stuff even more ideas into the game, rather than taking a step back to create something a bit more smooth. If you’re a fan of having many areas to try to focus on in parallel, perhaps reducing the level of rote repetition, this may be just fine for you. However, the crippling blow really comes with the game’s awkward and cumbersome console controls mixed with an abundance of screens for you to trudge through and wrap your head around. The result ends up being a bit of a plodding bore with a combat interface in particular that never really clicks and certainly lacks even an ounce of excitement. If you have any interest I’d be inclined to start with the original and see how that goes before taking this one on.

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