Thursday, September 2

Mini Reviews: September 2nd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Kitaria Fables [Twin Hearts] (Nindie Choice!) -
Family-friendly action adventure titles have a fair amount of representation on the system, but with its cute characters and pretty basic overall controls, Kitaria Fables manages to pretty easily establish itself as a great option. While the story, for the most part, runs along familiar lines, keeping it simple seems to work nicely for the title, giving you reasons to keep moving around to discover new areas and challenges, but also never bogging things down. A dash of crafting and cultivation help to add some meat to the game’s bones once you get rolling, and some weapon choices help to give you some nice combat options to work with as you face a variety of foes. Further, throw in the ability to play along with someone else co-op style and it positions itself very nicely for a parent or older sibling to play along with a less experienced gamer-in-training as well. While by no means as polished or deep as the top-tier titles in the genre the general accessibility, friendly characters and tone, and plain cute charm or Fables should be perfect for people who just want to just take their time and enjoy themselves, no matter what their age.

Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions [Survios] - While the Switch has finally managed to get some fighting games rolling in the more recent years, sports titles in general have been woefully few and far between. Looking to pick up the practically unclaimed boxing crown we now have Big Rumble Boxing, which brings along a fair amount of swagger as well as characters from the Rocky-verse which is a fair bonus for fans of the franchise. The first word of caution for people taking a look is to walk into the affair thinking of it as a fighting game that features a boxing feel, this isn’t remotely a relative of the likes of Punch-Out or other 3D boxers. With that said, though it feels more like a 2D fighting game overall (though you do have the ability to dodge 3-dimensionally) the typical mass of special moves and nuanced combos don’t come along for the ride, with each general fighting style having their own flow but in general the repertoire of attacks staying limited. Depending on what you’re looking for, the result being more of a Chess-like strategic affair where you’ll be trying to work with what you have to wear down and/or psyche out your opponent to then capitalize will either seem ideal or a bit dull and repetitive. 

Super Animal Royale [Pixile] - Whenever you run into a free-to-play title it’s always a bit of a challenge to rake them over the coals when people could literally try them out and make their own decision for free. Still, since peoples’ time is also a premium, I suppose sharing some critical thoughts and compliments, when appropriate, is also in order. If you’ve played any battle royale titles (but especially Fortnite), just about every general aspect of the game should be familiar here. A standard map that a release craft will fly over, allowing people to pepper themselves about in search of gear and ammo, some urgency to keep moving since the safe area will continue to shrink with time, and everyone trying to survive. The only major differentiator happens to be the perspective, in this case adopting more of a top-down perspective rather than sticking to the first-person perspective, and that change moves the feel into being more of a twin-stick shooter. In principle I’d be a fan of this sort of change, since twin-stick arcade shooters are among my favorites out there, but for me the aim and all just feels a little off somehow. I can’t put my finger on it, and I’m sure with some time I could get used to it, but I was surprised with how inaccurate my shooting typically felt, and with as much as I play them that’s a bit disappointing. The result still gives you the tension and excitement for free, which is a plus, but at least for me the controls just don’t click in a way that would make it addictive enough to stick with for more than a few random rounds once in a while.

Instant Sports Paradise [BreakFirst Games] - While multi-event titles inspired by the likes of Olympic sports have been around for quite some time, Wii Sports helped to establish that people of all ages could enjoy even more leisurely activities together with properly simplified control schemes. Instant Sports Paradise is absolutely a game experience aspiring to that model, featuring a pretty wide variety of well-known leisure activities like Mini Golf or Bowling as well as more daring ones like Wakeboarding or flying with a Wingsuit. Not that it’s a surprise, but while I appreciate the desire to generally keep the controls basic from event to event there can be varying issues. In the case of Bowling it feels far too simplistic, especially in light of so many arcade-style bowling games in the past that added depth but were still accessible, but then for something like Mini Golf the way you manage the power of your shots feels unwieldy. While I have no doubt with some repetition people would be able to adapt to some of the more unusual control schemes, the greater issue is then whether there’s enough nuance and depth to keep them interesting… and for anyone beyond casual players loss of interest will become a problem quickly. The added non-event activities, items you can customize your character with, and exploring the island are nice value adds, but for people who are a bit more experienced as gamers there’s not much that will occupy you for long.

Weapon of Choice DX [Mommy's Best Games] - While in the early days there weren’t many options for run and gun shooter fans on Switch, thankfully in the years since release the offerings have filled in nicely. Weapon of Choice DX jumps into that pool with a fair amount of attitude and confidence, and to a degree it deserves to have a bit of swagger. In terms of the funky weapons, some of the mechanics of each character’s powers, and the degree of intensity it absolutely sets itself apart. Where it gets tricky is whether or not that will necessarily make up for its somewhat unusual level designs and periodic frustrations with the situations you can find yourself in. With a little more refinement and better focus on clear objectives for play it could use its unique elements more effectively, but as it is it feels like it has some good ideas that are held back by some of the ways they’re implemented.

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