Wednesday, November 10

Mini Reviews: November 10th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Instant Sports: Winter Games [Merge Games] -
Multiplayer multi-event sports compilations will always tend to be hit or miss, especially when trying to find the sweet spot where gameplay is just nuanced enough for better gamers but can still be picked up by anyone. The Instant Sports series has been a bit all over the place with its collections, with some events working but others being pretty miserable, and some attempts at elements like an overworld you can explore have been interesting but not necessarily compelling. While skewing a bit towards easy and accessible and not every event is a hit, Winter Games does just enough right to be a reasonably-good pick for families, offering a choice of more precise button controls or more loose (but perhaps fun for some) motion controls as well. In particular the Alpine Skiing, SlopeStyle, Ski Jump, and IceCross do an admirable job of being approachable while leaving room for people who are more skilled to shine. That’s not to say that Bobsleigh, Curling, and Snowball Fight are bad, I’d just say each of those falls down for one reason or another in terms of consistent challenge. Granted, the number of mini games offered is dwarfed by AAA collections, but if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly for the family to enjoy together this shows some promise.

Skeletal Avenger [10Tons] - As a die hard roguelike fan I’m always eager to check out something new in the space, and Skeletal Avenger has some merits that help it at least get off to a reasonably good start. While not visually terribly diverse or exciting, what it does offer up is an approachability you don’t normally find in roguelikes, skewing a little more towards letting you feel powerful before cranking up the difficulty and smacking you down. While there aren’t a tremendous number and variety of weapons and items to work with you can usually get equipped with gear that suits you on an average run, but depending on the whims of the RNG gods you’ll definitely get some runs where it just never comes together. The real issue here tends to be longevity and that’s tied to a comparative lack of real variety as you grind away. Granted, the competition in this space is pretty tough to match, but in the end this just comes to the table as a serviceable roguelike dungeon crawler, not necessarily a great one.

Blue Reflection: Second Light [Gust] - OK, a very quick admission here that I don’t know much about the world of anime and that can make “getting” games like this one more of a challenge I think. The premise is definitely a bit unusual, with you playing the part of a young woman who has become stranded in a mysterious and isolated place with a few other young women, and the goal of the game is then to explore, develop relationships, craft helpful items, and occasionally battle some unusual monsters while trying to uncover what the hell is going on. Combat here is more “functional” than exciting, only occasionally feeling like a strategy is really required for success, so if you’re looking for satisfying battles to break up everything else you’ll be disappointed. If, however, you’re of the mind that the journey and relationships you build along the way are a bit more vital than the destination you may enjoy the slow progression as the characters get to know more about themselves and each other as they struggle in these unusual circumstances. Probably best matched for people already in this headspace, and not necessarily for a random gamer just looking for a cool RPG experience, it’s an acquired taste for sure but likely appealing to the right audience.

Om Nom: Run [ZeptoLab UK] - Oh, endless runner games that would work perfectly fine on mobile devices, how you tend to baffle me on the Switch. The thing is, I won’t make any attempt to even imply that Run isn’t well-made for what it does, or that you can’t have fun with it. It looks good, what controls it has are well-implemented, and I suppose if you have a ton of patience on your side the unlockable characters and extra goodies may be fun to grind for. Just… it’s also hard not to reflect on this sort of game having been out there for ages now, and you can play variations on the same gameplay and concepts for free on your phone or tablet. To its credit, this is priced to be an easy sell, even moreso if it ends up on sale at some point, so if you’re so inclined or you have younger gamers around who may love something simple but engaging, this’ll do nicely and looks darned cute with it’s Cut The Rope mascot character doing the running (and eating along the way).

Pixel Heroes: Mega Byte & Magic [Headup Games] - This was a weird one for me, bringing back all sorts of memories with it’s retro graphic presentation, it’s overall simplicity, and its very oddball sense of humor. I’d say the writing is absolutely what works best for this throwback RPG, everything from the dialogue to the character descriptions are full of wit, weirdness, and fun. Unfortunately, aside from that strong suit most of the rest is markedly weaker. The turn-based combat is a bit on the dry and dull side to begin with but what really takes the wind out of your sails is the poorly-implemented UI which does work but is cumbersome to say the least. I suppose if you take a look at some gameplay and find that the overall sense of humor makes you laugh that aspect could help the overall experience at least be entertaining but otherwise there are definitely better options on the system than this.

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