Friday, November 12

Mini Reviews: November 12th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic [BioWare] (AAA Choice!) -
It’s always a bit tougher with revered classics to return to them long after they were originally made, worried about whether they’ll continue to retain their classic qualities that made them shine when they were released. The great thing about KOTOR is that despite the fact that it looks a bit rough, and some of the voice acting isn’t that great, the lore and storytelling were always the game’s greatest strengths so what is most vital absolutely still holds up. The story takes place very much in its own time and place, helping to distance itself from the associated baggage of the Skywalker saga while still capitalizing on peoples’ fascination with the Jedi and the Sith, who this confirms have been locking horns for quite some time. Whether you’re eager to jump back into a world you enjoyed inhabiting quite some time ago or are simply intrigued to see what all of the accolades have been about this Switch release is a great way to enjoy the game whether on your couch or on the go.


Epic Chef [Infinigon Games] (Nindie Choice!) - I’ll freely admit to having a bit of a weakness for weird and quirky games, so I’d keep that in mind with my thoughts on Epic Chef. To be clear, while I think it’s entertaining, has some great humor, and does enough to make it worth your while if you enjoy a good laugh, I’d also never claim it’s without its faults. It really gets off to a slow start, especially if you’re a farm sim veteran, and initially just getting around can be frustratingly time consuming as you get from point to point. To the game’s credit that gets addressed pretty quickly, but I’d say the game does a poor job of getting off to a strong start. The thing is, once it does manage to get into its groove with you cooking and competing for culinary dominance it has some good ideas that are generally well executed and is happy to throw some weird curveballs at you periodically to keep you amused. While perhaps a bit grindy (though it could be argued farm sims all struggle with this to some degree) and it could use some refinement in its pace up front to ensure everyone is invested to enjoy the rest, Epic Quest has a unique quality to it and delivers on its promise well enough to be worth a look, especially if you’d like to see a more light-hearted take on the farm sim genre.


Gynoug [Masaya] - The Switch has really seen a strong run of more obscure retro console shooters of late, and while the gameplay of Gynoug may be a bit more generic than its brethren there’s no doubt that its general looks, enemies, and vibe is in a class all its own. Forgoing the futuristic sci-fi aesthetics most shooters aim for, the very organic and sometimes a bit grotesque sights you’ll encounter here are both distinctive and memorable. Unfortunately the general flow of things isn’t quite as unique, but I’d say the more middle of the road than average difficulty may also help make it more approachable then, though getting no real direction on what the power-ups are can make runs early on feel more trial and error than it probably should be. Still, if you’re a big fan of retro shooters or are simply eager to see a game that pointed in a very non-traditional direction and decided to go all in on making the most of itself this is definitely worth a look.


The Prince of Landis [Ratalaika Games] - Bullied and frustrated in his somewhat rural town, a young boy encounters an alien and decides to help it, resulting in him getting some quite different lessons on how to get things done in the process. Playing out as a sort of point-to-point adventure, with you needing to find specific items or determine how to get at them (and sometimes, when) is the general focus, intermingled with a lot of walking around. The trial and error of walking back and forth, even when you’re pretty sure you know what you need, is probably the game’s greatest weakness, though the wildcard of what may happen next or what your alien “friend” will say or do does at least serve as an effective hook. I’ll give it credit for its story and events simply being different, so if you’re in search of some surprises it may be worth a look.


L.O.L. Surprise! Movie Night [Nighthawk Interactive] - Ah, licensed properties for kids being turned into video games. Anyone who has been around should know what a roll of the dice that can be. Surprises like the recent Smurf game can and do sometimes show up to help redeem the sub-genre, but unfortunately then titles like this one show up to restore the balance in the other direction. For true fans of the toys, the younger the better, the ability to have your own character, establish their look, and then follow their journey to stardom may be enough to satisfy. For anyone who is more adept at games (at all) the personalization angle won’t likely be enough to make up for the repetitive and sometimes almost insulting mini games that you’ll need to grind through in order to keep things advancing. With basic skills ranging from memory to randomly placing appropriate items in a scene to simply changing lanes to collect coins there’s a real lack of ambition and faith in the player shown in the nature and starting point of these mini games. Yes, as you do them more and the level of difficulty slowly rises they can pose a slightly higher challenge but the basic nature of the underlying game never improves from being horribly simplistic. Throw in dialogue full of hashtagging and pop culture phrases that were culled from a decade ago and the attempts to seem #OnTrend more often feel outright #cringe and #basic. It’s an odd title where I can’t really identify the target age group aside from gamers just starting out, but I’m curious how well that overlaps the people buying these dolls that look like a more current version of Bratz, just with smaller cherub-like bodies and anime-style big eyes. I suppose if your kids love them this will be a demand no matter what, but just remember that you’ve been #warned!

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