Thursday, September 16

Mini Reviews: September 16th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Flynn: Son of Crimson [Studio Thunderhorse] (Nindie Choice!) -
There’s something to be said for games that know what they want to be, even if not necessarily revolutionary in any particular way, and are then executed with a high degree of care and quality. For me Flynn is one such game, adhering closely to the classic 16-bit action platforming template and in general then simply staying the course with a steady stream of new weapons and abilities to keep things interesting through its handful of hours of playtime. Through the use of your weapon-based attacks and magic you’ll work your way through puzzles and a fair amount of combat, with the periodic changes to new zones changing up the enemies and obstacles you’ll face nicely. In terms of the bigger picture, both in terms of the narrative and overall design, perhaps the more paint-by-SNES-era-numbers essence of the game holds it back from being a truly inspired stand-out title. However, if you’re a fan of the era it undoubtedly emulates some of the best it had to offer and feels both retro and just a bit satisfyingly modern at the same time on Switch, making the odds of it being a hit with genre fans pretty solid.


Cruis’n Blast [Raw Thrills] (Nindie Choice!) - When it comes to over-the-top, crazy, and almost excessively arcade-style racing I’m not sure anything out there can quite match the classic Cruis’n series. Cruis’n Blast, rather than looking to make strides to evolve or reinvent itself in any remote way, comes to the Switch fully embracing everything (and I do mean this in the best complimentary way) stupidly ridiculous about its lineage and puts it right in your lap whether you love or hate it. For anyone more remotely interested in realism or tight control mechanics you can just keep moving, this won’t be an experience for you. However, if the thought of racing with your neon-lit and juiced-up triceratops as you plow through your opponents, doing backflips and barrel rolls over ramps along the way, sounds plain AWESOME this will be your jam. The adherence to even goofy-ass things from yesteryear like every car surface being highly reflective, something nobody would ever do now but that was all the rage back in the day, is a sign that this port was made with respect and love. Will it deliver hours of entertainment? That would depend on you and whether your goal is just to “beat the game”, which could take only a few hours, or whether you plan to enjoy unlocking and tricking out everything, sucking in the goofiness of it all either solo or with some friends. While not for everyone, I absolutely respect the love and care put in by the developers to honor the essence of Cruis’n, no matter how ridiculous some of it may be to more modern (or simply more “hardcore”) gamers.


CRASH: Autodrive [Studio Nightcap] - As always with titles on Switch that lean more into storytelling and less into gameplay Crash is challenging to really review. There’s an essence of murder mystery to it as you try to suss out a motive and potential killer among a group of what seems to be a random group of passengers in a self-driving car that runs over someone. You’ll quickly find that isn’t that case, with everyone having a connection to the deceased, and that’s where the more adventure-like interactions (though generally very simplified) come in. By checking carefully for clues, participating in a few simple mini games of sorts, and working through various dialogue choices you’ll be challenged to discover Whodunnit. In general it’s not too bad, though the relative lack of refinement in some of the aspects of the experience also make it tough to recommend with enthusiasm. Somewhat unique: Yes. Has an interesting general story (though suspicions on what happened set in early for me results may vary): Sure. If you’re working on a budget and are looking for something to entertain you for a few hours it may work for you though.


SkateBIRD [Glass Bottom Games] - With the exception of the Tony Hawk redux that came to the system earlier this year, the skating scene on Switch has been on the slim side. To date, none of them has come to the table with nearly as much quirk as SkateBIRD, and I’d say that with its 3D gameplay rather than sticking to the simpler 2D plane it’s also more ambitious than most of its competition. That said, while it’s kind of weird and funny to take on half pipes and other skating challenges with some species of bird that is decked out in an outfit you get to choose, the game does have some rough edges in multiple places. The one that stands out foremost in my mind is the double-edged sword of your environment being seen from the perspective of a small creature in a human-sized world. Yes, it makes everything novel, but when you mix some of the areas and the large drops off of things like a table with the missions you’ll be trying to complete on the clock it can make things very frustrating. Falling off an edge while you’re trying to make things happen will often sink your entire attempt, and when you throw in the sometimes-dodgy controls that are a bit on the loose side it’s more commonly a problem than I’d prefer. However, if you’re looking for something just a bit different and enjoy skating games given the lack of options on Switch it may be worth a look.


Boulder Dash Deluxe [BBG Entertainment GmbH] - As a “veteran” gamer it has been neat to see some truly old school classics stand the test of time and continue to get modern incarnations. One I’ve seen get this treatment over the years that has perhaps perplexed me a bit has been the Boulder Dash series. Sure, it’s an action puzzler that has been around since the days of primitive graphics, but is the style and depth of play so great that so many decades later it continues to hold up for anyone outside fans of the OG versions? This “Deluxe” version I would say makes a relatively poor case. Sure, it has quite a bit of content in the form of stages as well as things to unlock for refining the flavor of the game more to your liking, but conceptually really nothing has evolved in any measurable way that makes the experience more compelling and the last-last-last gen visuals do it no favors either. With the exception of true fans who want that slice of nostalgia maybe it delivers those goods, but I have a hard time seeing where a case is made well for more modern gamers to overlook plenty of more compelling and complex puzzlers out there for this dated experience.

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