Thursday, December 16

Mini Reviews: December 16th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Wytchwood [Alientrap] (Nindie Choice!) -
When I think of games that heavily involve crafting my mind usually goes to survival titles, a genre I’ve struggled with though there have been some exceptions to the rule. I can appreciate where the appeal is, but there’s typically some onerous element, typically either in inventory management, too many dull or menial recipes, or there simply being too many means to meet your demise. Wytchwood, to me, is a bit of an anomaly, blending together satisfying crafting, plenty of exploration and discovery, a satisfyingly coherent set of management screens, and what turns out to be a pretty compelling story as well. I suppose best categorized as an adventure, you’ll find there are plenty of unusual people to meet, problems to solve, and mysteries involving yourself to unravel. What I really appreciate is that it does all of this in a way that feels highly accessible, focused, and light. Without any real peers that I can think of on the system this is an excellent mix of flavors that I hope a broad audience is able to enjoy.

Super Impossible Road [Wonderful Lasers] (Nindie Choice!) - Rolling onto the scene and feeling like the marriage of Super Monkey Ball, a futuristic racer, and an exercise in calculated risks and insanity, Super Impossible Road certainly makes an impression on Switch. In principle the goal is simple, regardless of the specific event type: get to the goal at the end of the track as quickly as possible. Whether that’s by trying your best to stay on the often-windy track, taking your chances jumping off the side and trying to land on a lower section of track, or some combination of all the above, you can bet none of the options will necessarily be easy. One of the best ways to at least try to give yourself all the help you can is to tune your craft with equipment that best suits your style, usually with a focus on your grip of the track or your ability to control yourself in the air. Whether you try to find a balance and stick with it or even move between a few configurations to best suit the given event and track layout is up to you. Make no mistake, the game earns its name in spades, and racing against others tends to lead to a lot of risk-taking and paying the price, but if you enjoy gritting your teeth and working to “git gud” there’s nothing quite like this on the system.

6Souls [BUG-Studio] - When you’re looking for something to kill some hours on a budget it’s really easy to appreciate the ability of the indie gaming space to deliver some fun on the cheap. While 6Souls is by no means an amazing puzzle platformer, it’s hard to be too terribly harsh on it when the asking price is so reasonable. Very much playing out in a traditional style, the challenge will be working with what reasonably limited techniques you have to get through levels and hopefully try to pick up as many additional pick-ups as you can as you go. While not generally in the “frequent rage quits” class of difficulty, there are definitely spots where you’ll need to work a little harder than is typical, especially if you’re trying to grab everything you can on each level. While its combat is on the weak and limited side, the platforming controls are at least reasonably responsive, and while it will hardly win any awards it’s a very affordable pick-up that will keep you occupied for a few hours.

Clockwork Aquario [Westone Bit Entertainment] - With its huge character sprites, vibrant colors, and old-school side-scrolling design, Clockwork Aquario should certainly charm retro gaming fans. The fact that it was never completed or released, and now has been brought back to life and finished by a modern team, adds greatly to that appeal for the old-school crowd as well. The thing is, outside of that pretty dedicated niche audience I’m not positive there’s enough here in terms of quality core play to demand more than an appreciative look. The controls are just a bit too loose, and the rules for what you can hit and how a bit too inconsistent, for it to stand on its own as a great action game and though its presentation is fantastic, it may be easier to appreciate simply taking it all in through a gameplay video than strapping yourself in to play.

Razerwire: Nanowars [Hammer&Ravens] - As a big classic arcade fan I very much understand and appreciate the fun that can be found in a simplistic design that’s well-implemented. Reflecting on many great classics from the Golden Age the premise was often pretty basic, but smart developers were able to run with that and create compelling titles that demanded an endless number of quarters. I get that Nanowars is shooting for that sort of simple-but-addictive experience, and the one-stick controls where your goal is to protect your main ship by moving around your satellite craft and destroying incoming enemies with the thin line between them is smart enough… but aside from simply trying to be more effective with combos and strategy the core experience has a tough time sustaining interest. To its credit, there are unlockable power-ups and abilities that can entice you to do just another run or two to see how those may shake things up, but the idea just never took off enough to demand an ongoing spot in my gaming roster.

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