Wednesday, January 5

Mini Reviews: January 5th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Pinchcliffe Grand Prix [Invictus Games] - As a pretty proud fan of titles that don’t conform cleanly into existing genres, falling into the “weird” space, I welcome experiences that defy expectations. In principle, based on the name, you could assume this would be a racing game… and for the most part you’d be wrong, though it does include a light racing game as a piece of its offering puzzle. With characters, visuals, and story derived from a Norwegian stop-motion animation film from the 70s it’s also not like anything you’ve likely ever seen or played. Considering the content ultimately seems most geared towards kids or more casual gamers this probably works out to being a plus as they’re more likely to embrace the unusual and very slow pace of the game’s core story, which plays out most like a point-and-click adventure but with a host of varied mini games you can participate in as well. Yes, at some point you will collect enough parts that you’ll be able to assemble your grand car, and move onto some fun racing, but it’s really the full package of oddity and quirky, wholesome charm that will either quickly turn you away or perhaps make you a fan.

Eufloria HD [Omni Systems] - Offering up a mix of naturalistic but simple visuals, soothing sounds, and a bit of mild strategy, Eufloria is a pretty unique experience. What little there is to know is explained quickly, putting your little spores to work to counteract those of your enemies is generally efficient, and it hits a sort of sweet spot in making you work for your success without necessarily overwhelming you with challenge or complexity. All that said, it’s probably less appropriate for traditional strategy gamers and more for people who are looking for something simple to play distractedly as a diversion. While it may not inspire a need to shout its praises it’s also reasonably priced and may be a great match for the right audience.

Planet Quiz: Learn & Discover [] - Educational games are always going to be pretty tough to review, as in the minds of most people the concept of learning and fun are mutually exclusive. If, however, you happen to be a fan of all things concerning the Earth, whether geography, wildlife, or nature in general, you may like the direction this particular game is running in. You’ll be able to challenge yourself solo, responding to multiple choice questions that range in difficulty, to see how well you know your stuff or play with some friends to see who the real expert in the group is. One oddity with the experience though is that with its quiz format it feels like its educational value is a bit at odds with its entertainment value. You’ll more likely do well in quizzes the more you already know, perhaps nullifying its value as an educational tool, but I’m not sure people seeking to know more would view this as their path to greater understanding. Still, if you enjoy the trivia quiz format, to play against friends or test yourself, it may be worthwhile.

Match Three Pirates 2 [Denda Games] - Out of the gate I’ll say that I have always been, and continue to be, a big fan of Match-3 puzzles, especially when on the go. They’re easy to pick up and put down quickly, they’re mentally engaging, and well-designed ones will actively challenge your strategy and planning abilities the further you go along. In principle, since there haven’t been too many I’ve encountered on Switch, this could have been a pretty easy sell for me. Unfortunately, my familiarity with the abundant mobile competition out there (most of them playable for free on your mobile device to boot) really sunk my opinion of this one quickly. The biggest issue is that neither the puzzles or the visuals stack up well against the mobile competition, and in many regards this looks and plays more like a game produced a good decade ago. The theming, and a bit of a story with you working with pirates to construct an amusement park, could possibly have helped to buoy the experience a bit but unfortunately there was little effort put in to make this worthwhile as well. The resulting overall experience is unfortunately underwhelming.

Hollow 2 [Forever Entertainment] - I’m sure anyone who takes on the challenge of making a game and getting it released dreams of their title being truly memorable. Of course, if what sears it onto memory are the problems rather than triumphs perhaps it would be better to remain obscure. After the pretty dreadful mess that was the original Hollow on Switch I assumed that there wouldn’t be a sequel, but I was wrong. I had hoped that the return would be determined to overcome the many shortcomings of the original, among them the very ugly and muddy presentation, the lackluster (and overly-repeated) enemy models, weak first-person action, and odd overall story. I was, again, wrong. If anything it feels like they’ve either ignored that the original had problems or have even decided to lean in even harder to things that didn’t work, thinking they’d somehow work themselves out this time. They didn’t. It’s a real mess, but if somehow my words don’t sate your curiosity I’d say that of the two the original was more playable, so I’d start there if you’re determined to see the trainwreck for yourself.

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