Thursday, January 20

Mini Reviews: January 20th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Picross S7 [Jupiter Corporation] (Nindie Choice!) - You know you’ve really established something special when the name of your game becomes synonymous with all games within a given subgenre. Picross-style puzzlers have been well-known for quite some time now, but when you’re more than a decade into your run it has to get tougher and tougher to keep truly improving rather than merely iterating. The Picross S series, as a whole, has done right by the Switch with the addition of different modes like Mega Picross, Color Picross, and Clip Picross, but to date there’d been one wishlist item on Switch fans’ minds that hadn’t yet materialized… and that’s touchscreen support. At long last that piece of the puzzle has been added, and when you combine that with the traditionally clean and yet attractive presentation, the sheer volume of puzzles, and the different modes that all present their own challenges, S7 is really the crowning achievement of the mainline Picross S series and more than ever that makes it a pretty much must-have title for Switch puzzle fans.

Headland [Northplay ApS] - There’s something to be said for creating and releasing family-friendly, approachable, and genuinely pleasant adventures on the Switch, and Headland certainly fits this mold thoroughly. In many ways reminding me of the wonderful Figment, there’s a certain wholesome joy to the colorful world and simple-but-generally-satisfying action that at least caught my attention for a bit. Where the game suffers a bit is certainly in its overall lack of complexity and variety though, even if you may need to use a bit more technique to defeat foes the further you get the flow of combat is pretty basic and without that bit of a oomph elevating it I wouldn’t likely recommend it for anyone who is more than a novice gamer.

RPGolf Legends [KEMCO/ArticNet] - With the general Switch line-up when it comes to both RPGs and Sports titles being thinner than would be preferred, my eyes lit up at the prospect of RPGolf Legends managing to knock out two under-represented birds with one stone. Alas, though it is a mash-up of both styles, offering a chance to alternate between whacking monsters and golf balls, where it comes up short is in offering up something more satisfying than generic to help elevate it over the merely adequate. Unfortunately, Switch fans in this space will almost undoubtedly be aware of the charming Golf Story, making comparison inevitable. Though it had its own flaws (particularly it losing its way in the final third of play), there’s no single area where RPGolf Legends is able to stand apart with its story feeling generic, its combat and general action too lacking in variety, and its golf mechanics a bit too thin. While it may still provide some hours of enjoyment for those truly starved for a sports RPG, for everyone else it will likely disappoint a bit.

SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash [SNK] - Deckbuilders have become a full-fledged thing nowadays, with many pretty great ones on the Switch, but back when Card Fighters’ Clash was released they were a bit more of an oddity. I have to give credit to the people behind the game, the roster of characters from both universes is stellar, the pixel art for most of them is gorgeous, and on a general level there’s quite a bit to appreciate here. Unfortunately, having now played quite a number of more recent roguelike deckbuilders that offer up a degree of unpredictability, progression, and terrific challenges I found it really hard to take things back a few steps to the level Clash delivers. If you’re a huge portable fan I have no doubt the nostalgia factor may be enough to make this a winner, but from the angle of the strategic gameplay it offers it suffers from the progress that has been made since it was released.

Shadow Man: Remastered [Night Dive Studios] - Bringing back games for another run on modern consoles has always tended to be a mixed bag. Titles from some generations and developers can be a pleasant surprise, but some others feel a bit doomed to disappoint. In particular the first-gen 3D games have a tendency to do poorly, and unfortunately Shadow Man falls into this category on multiple counts. Aside from the gameplay itself always having been a bit lacking, a mix of exploration, sort of third-person shooting, and messy 3D platforming, it’s hard not to get ugly flashbacks to the N64 era with the game’s muddy visuals. Most everything is dark, many textures that used to be blurry (in particular some characters’ faces) are unintentionally hilarious now, and all of this makes for a tough-to-enjoy experience in the end.

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