Wednesday, October 13

Mini Reviews: October 13th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


The Lightbringer [Rock Square Thunder] (Nindie Choice!) -
Certainly there are plenty of 3D action platformers on the Switch, and they take a variety of forms from intense to more casual. The Lightbringer sort of splits the middle, offering opportunities for challenges if you want to be a completionist but keeping things light if you’re just along for the journey. What’s interesting is how streamlined this experience is, feeling more like a 2D platformer moving in straight lines rather than an open adventure where the goal is exploration. Secrets will be hidden along the way, making you detour a little or double back a bit perhaps, but in general you’re always moving in the direction you want to and in many regards that’s a refreshing change of pace. Some poetic voice acting helps to advance the story, which just gives things a different feel overall as well. While by no means as epic an adventure as you’d normally see in a 3D action platformer, The Lightbringer feels like a solid, steady, and enjoyable adventure that respects your time and delivers generally no-filler thrills… something I can definitely respect.


Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl [Fair Play Labs] - This is one of those titles you walk into with at least a twinge of dread as a reviewer. Not only is it a licensed game, but it is seemingly attempting to at least tangentially take on Smash Bros on its own home turf?!? The thing is, if you don’t spend all of your time picking it apart, and if you really love some of these classic Nickelodeon characters, you can still have a reasonably good button-mashing time with it. I think the biggest weaknesses for me are the lack of items to keep the middling fighting from being so easily apparent and the problems with glitchiness I ran into, which can be really aggravating in some specific stages in particular. That said, my daughter, who grew up with many of these characters, still had a blast and laughed as she’d beat me up with random animated characters in their various color-splashed cartoon levels. Depending on the crowd, things like roster depths and long-standing Nintendo lore don’t have as much pull, nostalgia and familiarity can win. For those people, this will likely be a bit of fun, just be realistic about its limitations going in.


Gleylancer [Ratalaika Games] - Even having played a ton of arcade shooters over time I’m still fascinated periodically when I run across ones that I’d somehow missed over the years. Gleylancer is one such title I must have missed (no surprise since it was only released on the Mega Drive it appears), and while there’s no doubt it’s a port of a game from over 20 years ago… I was shocked that it impressed me a bit. Central to my enthusiasm was a really smart setup I don’t recall having seen many times where you get to choose the behavior of your drones ahead of time. Granted, experimenting with them was a bit frustrating as you’d learn what they were good and bad for, but I really appreciate this smart and generally well-implemented feature. As for criticisms, the amount of debris you have to weave through in places can make the screen pretty chaotic visually at times, with you needing to keep track of what's a ship, what's trash you can't blow up, and where the bullets are. All in all though, this gem from the past at least feels well worth a look for die hard shooter enthusiasts.


Astria Ascending [Artisan Studios] - Astria Ascending is a bit of an odd bird to me. In many regards when you see its art style, it looks something like the old school manual art of classic 16-bit era titles from the likes of Square. Ornate and generally stunning, it feels like a wonderful homage to what RPG fans used to dream their games would look like one day. The trouble is in most other areas though, which either aren’t reaching for, or are at least failing to meet the high standards set by the game’s looks. Turn-based combat looks cool but plays pretty traditionally (see: somewhat dull), character development is elaborate for sure but the interface and the way it is handled I’d consider difficult to approach and odd. The storytelling, though earnest, feels a bit on the traditional side but I wouldn’t say is done any favors by the voice acting trying to sell it. For genre fans there’s plenty here that may excite you, but for people who only decide to pick up a JRPG once in a blue moon there are some more compelling choices out there for you on the eShop.


Starlight Alliance [origamihero games] - On a general level, though things have begun to change in this generation, it can be tough to get people who’ve only enjoyed AAA titles over the years to take a chance on an indie title. Whatever their biases may be, whether looks, polish, depth, or any number of other potential complaints, making headway to change minds can be tough. While Starlight Alliance shows some effort, there are aspects of it that I think fall in line with some of those stereotypes though, so I would hope the first chance someone takes on an indie wouldn’t be with this game. The controls are a bit funky, collision detection is spotty at best in places can be frustrating, and there are simply some design choices in how the game should play that feel odd, possibly tied to limitations in what either the creative or development teams could pull off. For the patient who have scaled-back expectations there’s a mix of platforming, puzzling, and some light combat here to enjoy… but it can be hard to overlook some of the warts you’ll see along the way.

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