Friday, November 19

Mini Reviews: November 19th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


The Wild At Heart [Moonlight Kids] (Nindie Choice!) -
Sometimes all you need to get excited about a title are a few evocative words, commonly referred to as an “elevator pitch”. In the case of The Wild At Heart it can simply be summed up with the words: Pikmin Adventure. While I do wish the load times were a bit less onerous, the crafting system and health were a bit more well-implemented, and that it didn’t feel like nightfall (and peril) were baked in to interrupting your exploration and puzzle solving in some areas… I’ve gotta admit, this game absolutely has me hooked. There’s a major focus on exploration and often experimentation, the dungeon-like nature of some areas and their puzzles that is an appreciated challenge, and the story and themes of the game definitely pull you in the further you go. This all combines to make for one of my favorite indie titles of the year, despite some of my quibbles with some specifics, and it should be capable of appealing to a very broad audience with its general play style and obvious influences.


Klang 2 [Tinimations] (Nindie Choice!) - When it comes to music and rhythm games there are those titles that take a familiar road, often mapping buttons to specific spots you’ll need to hit in rhythm, and then those that veer off to do things their own way. In the case of Klang 2 on the one hand the controls are much simpler, not making you worry over multiple buttons, but on the other the focus on needing to aim directionally at different types of targets takes the challenge to a different level. Throw in its neon-like visuals matching up well with its often EDM-style tracks and it’s an energetic assault on your senses that can be quite thrilling. The one concern is the degree of challenge once you get over the first handful of stages, sometimes with difficulty spikes suddenly taking your current great performance and wrecking it quickly with patterns that are visually hard to discern, sometimes requiring a few passes just to be positive what sequence of things you’ll need to do in order to get through them. While it may not appeal to all rhythm game fans, people with a taste for more modern music and who enjoy something with a different sense of style than what the genre traditionally provides will want to pick this one up.


Marsupilami: Hoobadventure [Ocellus Studio] - While for a little while the introduction of 3D platforming was seen as the path to gaming irrelevance for its 2D side-scrolling brethren, traditional platformers aren’t only still around, they’re still kicking ass and taking names. Well, some of them are. The thing is, in many regards Marsupilami is a solid title. Though perhaps control responsiveness and overall pacing are a tad on the sluggish side, everything feels pretty smart and accessible. You’re free to simply run and jump along, keeping your head in the game to simply complete the level, or take the time and effort to seek out meatier challenges and secrets that will require you to demonstrate some additional gamer cred to complete. This all somehow gives it both a family-friendly and tough-but-fair degree of difficulty that should help it appeal to a pretty wide audience. I do wish it had a little more to offer in terms of variety, to better match up against some of its stronger competition on the platform, but if you’re just out for a good time it may be a winner depending on what you’re looking for.


Grow: Song of the Evertree [Prideful Sloth] - With so much stress out there in the world right now I’ve been enjoying the bevy of great titles over the last year that have focused more on passive or relaxing themes and moments over more traditional tendency towards just action and intensity of some kind. To its credit, Grow does do a good job of putting you into a sort of sandbox situation with basic tools that you’ll be able to use to help everyone out, work the land, and simply seek out activities that suit you, whether catching bugs, fishing, farming, or maybe a little bit of everything. My problem is just that the bar for quality in many of these activities is relatively low, robbing them of a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction when they require so little skill. Couple that with the lack of drive in the game towards more meaningful goals and more often than not while you certainly have the freedom to do what you like without real direction it ends up feeling a bit aimless and dull. If you’re just out for some peaceful activities it may suffice, but there are other titles out there with similar beats but that are still much more satisfying without being terribly stressful either.


American Hero [Empty Clip Studios] - Games that have been brought back from the dead are always going to be a risky proposition, especially ones that were never completed. Now throw in American Hero being a FMV game from the 90s originally intended for the Atari Jaguar that trends towards being a reflection of much less respectful attitudes towards women in particular and it starts to get a bit dicey. I’ll give the developer credit, before you begin playing they lay down a very clear picture of the situation, the challenges in making the game happen, its limitations, and its generally problematic nature put up against modern attitudes. The thing is, if the gameplay was somehow a revelation in some way it could have all been worth the lead up, but the end product is simply pretty bad all around, and not even in a cheesy B-movie charm sort of way. The story, thin as it seems to be, is actually pretty hard to follow depending on your choices, the acting is spotty at best, and aside from wanting to see the train wreck to the end I can’t say there’s really much to make it compelling aside from perhaps as a time capsule of sorts and a sign of how so many things have changed completely since it was originally conceived.

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