Friday, February 25

Mini Reviews: February 25th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes [Firefly Games Inc] (Nindie Choice!) - While I’ll open by admitting that, in general, any game with the word Pinball in the title gets my attention, in the case of Zombie Rollerz there’s so much greatness here it had no need to tap into my silverball nostalgia to make me happy. Original, smart, loaded with nuance and depth, this bizarre mix of pinball, roguelike concepts, diverse power-ups, and action is thoroughly satisfying and absolutely one of the best games on Switch I’ve played yet this year. While at first the ball moving slowly down the flippers really bothered me since it detracts from the “pinballness” of the experience, once I got spoiled by how that opens the door to very precise aiming and control to hit distant targets to trigger events or go to hidden playfields I got over it quickly. I will say, it pretty much drops you into things and you’ll need to acclimate at first to everything, and struggle to figure out which power-ups will work together to suit you best, but even ramping up is fun and then when you attack the game with your full knowledge it’s a big bucket of win!


Monark [Lancarse] - I’ve got to admit, there are games that I review that I don’t really get, but sometimes they can still make quite an impression on me… though maybe not always with the hook that would grab other people. Monark is definitely weird and yet chock full of style, dramatic in cliched ways at times but also more than happy to roll out a really weird story with my favorite oddball part of the story being the Daemon Vanitas. For whatever reason the combination of his nightmarish and yet Tim Burton-esque look and generally rhyming speech absolutely made him steal attention every time he pops up. But hey, the tactical combat (once you get used to it) feels pretty smart and keeps you engaged, the opening questionnaire that may only have a minimal effect on the game you play is still at least interesting, and the bizarre school-age drama all at least make for a pretty unique ride. It absolutely won’t be for everyone, but if you’re looking for something pretty off-center in your RPGs this delivers the goods from pretty well all sides.


Edge of Eternity [Midgar Studio] - Whether or not my reaction to Edge of Eternity is a bit clouded by playing another very stylish RPG around the same time or not I can’t say, but despite the obvious efforts put in to make Edge of Eternity impressive more often than not I found it fell flat for me. In particular the opening of the story I found quite baffling, barely introducing you to a number of characters before killing off pretty well all of them… both squandering what time you did spend with them and pretty well ensuring their deaths feel pointless since you’re still just getting to know them. While I’m sure this was meant to be shocking and dramatic in some way it really put me off quickly and colored my view of the story (which, from there, remains pretty run-of-the-mill) from that point. I do appreciate the way the zones are handled in the tactical combat at least. While it isn’t as involved as the systems you see in other titles in the space it does work well enough and helps give the game a little more flavor. In the end it is clear there’s a lot of effort behind this endeavor, I just with the result were more worthy of praise.


Autobahn Police Simulator 2 [Aerosoft] - While movies and TV shows tend to make the idea of being a cop seem to be packed with danger and excitement, I have no doubt that the vast majority of time spent on the job is filled with some degree of tedium getting from Point A to Point B or filling out paperwork. While thankfully filling out stacks of forms is not covered in this Police Simulator, the mundane task of getting on the road to drive somewhere following your GPS is fully on display. The thing is, I know there are people who enjoy driving and other simulators of various kinds to help them find some routine and calm, so I won’t discount the game fully. That said, there are a lot of weird details that I’m not sure are deliberately handled poorly or just on accident that really make it all feel odd. Between roads that are almost entirely empty the majority of the time, to street lights that don’t appear to actually do anything at all, to the almost comical facial movements people make while having conversations with one another I struggled to understand whether the developers are leaning into the weird for laughs or just a bit sloppy. In any case, at best this would fall under an acquired taste… even then only likely for a short time.


Moto Roader MC [Ratalaika Games] - While I was excited to see a retro racer in the vein of classics like Super Sprint and its ilk coming to Switch, I knew it could be tricky. The fact is, aside from playing games like that in the arcade with a wheel they’ve never come over very well in terms of control. Unfortunately, Moto Roader MC fits that bill pretty well dead-on, and with the general speed of everything being pretty quick that just makes it all the more painful. I suppose some credit goes to there being so many tracks, and some layouts that aren’t as turn-focused help make everything a bit more easy to enjoy, but even giving the game some time it remains really easy to screw up, and that’s even without projectiles or bombs from other cars disrupting you. If you’ve got a group of friends to play with locally it may at least work better with everyone being at the same disadvantage, but overall it’s a pretty rough experience.


Thursday, February 24

Top 90 / Best Indie Weird Games on Nintendo Switch


Last Updated: 2/24/22!

Untitled Goose Game [House House] - Bless indie developers and their ability to come up with weird concepts for gameplay that you probably never considered but upon seeing them are easily attracted to. Untitled Goose Game is such a title, and I was drawn to it the moment I laid eyes on its gameplay in one of the Directs. Maybe I can’t speak for everyone but there’s something really fun about unleashing your inner asshole every once in a while and if that thought appeals to you this game should be high on your list. Given a checklist of objectives, you’ll need to use your pretty limited goosey skills and some smarts to figure out how to complete them to progress. One unfortunate thing is that the game isn’t terribly long, though I suppose it may be better not have it overstay its welcome and lose its creative spark. Still, it’s a unique and entertaining playthrough if you’re in the right mindset.


The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth + [Edmund McMillen] - One of the very first games available for the system, as I was already a huge fan from the PC space it was a Day 1 purchase for me and I absolutely have no regrets. One of the most weird, somewhat obscene (which could be perfect, if you're like me), and consistently challenging as what you're working with can vary wildly from run to run... it's simply one of the best roguelikes on the system.


Doki Doki Literature Club Plus [Team Salvato] - First developing quite a notorious reputation as a free title, DDLC has finally made its disturbing way to Switch… and with a few extra bits of content to boot, though they’re just niceties and don’t really move the needle much. To be clear, the warnings shown before you play aren’t to be taken lightly, and this game should be avoided by people who aren’t quite mature or those with depression or mental health problems as this is a title that will very likely trigger you in a serious way. All of that said, while in terms of pacing it isn’t a perfect game it’s also quite unsettling and will leave you with quite a bit to reflect on. That would include personal relationships, the mental health issues that can be around you beneath the surface, and certainly traditional romance games that DDLC starts out in the vein of but then takes an extremely hard and disturbing turn… or two, or three from. As someone who is steadily critical of semi-interactive visual novels you’d have to take this statement with a grain of salt, but by a fair margin this is the most compelling game associated with this genre I’ve ever seen, and its themes, imagery, and characters have a tendency to stick with you, pretty well no matter what specific paths you may choose. You’ll need to be sure to be patient, as signs of trouble don’t appear until maybe an hour in and it’ll take being over 90 minutes in before the rails fall off… but there’ll be no mistaking the point of no return and when it all goes to hell. It is absolutely not an experience appropriate for everyone but, for anyone who shouldn’t be avoiding it for various reasons stated above, I absolutely recommend it if you want a shock to your system and likely something to think about.


What The Golf? [Triband] - Bless the indie devs that are determined to just completely go off in left field and do something unique. What the Golf is not really a sports game, or necessarily a puzzle game as much as it is a constant string of new riffs on the theme of golf, horrendous puns, and a wide variety of pop culture homages. While not all gamers may get every reference, which range from certain infamous mobile games to a super hot indie shooter that had unique mechanics to even a few concerning a certain mustachioed plumber, since it doesn’t dwell on any theme for long it won’t slow you down or limit your enjoyment. For people who just want to blow on through it may not take terribly long to “beat” if you just go to each hole and then keep going, but the additional par and starred challenges sometimes significantly (perhaps a bit inconsistently) ramp up the difficulty by adding new rules or even veering off to an entirely different kind of challenge altogether. Much like one of my favorites from a previous year, Pool Panic, What the Golf? is a collection of discovery and fun that just about anyone should enjoy.


Lost in Random [Zoink] - Full disclosure, up front I’ll admit that I’ve always tended to be fond of games from the Zoink crew, in particular finding their off-beat sense of humor to be great fun. In the case of Lost in Random I really think they’ve stepped it up though. Taking on an ambitious visual design that borders on being Burton-esque in many ways and mixing it with a terrifically dark and distinctive story would already have made me quite happy. However, what really won my heart was the game’s fabulous melding of strategic deck-building and brawling action, resulting in an overall feel of combat that I found utterly unique and that I can only hope to see occur in even more games down the road. I’ll admit that my enthusiasm for those battles, getting to test out my carefully-selected combination of cards, tended to make the more story-driven adventure beats in between feel a bit more bland in comparison, but that’s also where the developer’s trademark humor and quirky characters tended to help keep me happy even as I lusted for more combat. Undeniably distinctive, even if not always perfect, this felt like a perfect compliment to the coming holiday season with its darker tone, and I’d hope that even people who have come to dread seeing the term “deck-builder” would see how its pairing with consistent action makes all the difference.


Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space [Skunkape Games] - Oh, Sam & Max, I simply can’t resist your weirdo humor, references, and charm. Once again the dysfunctional duo have been unleashed on the Switch to do what they do best: rapid-fire tell jokes about everything and everyone in sight (not all of them hit, but I’ll give them credit for a strong batting average nonetheless), make trouble, and consistently deliver new unexpected scenarios and weirdness. Moreso than even their last set of adventures on Switch the five chapters included here, opening with a confrontation with an unruly Santa mind you, change things up and put them in scenarios ripe with potential for silliness and their trademark hijinks. Certainly there are times where the controls aren’t as ideal using a controller as they would have been with a mouse, and there are puzzles that may involve some funky logic, but the enjoyment is really all about the ride and the tremendously funny dialogue along the way. If you’re in need of a good laugh and don’t mind checking everything in a room just to see what dialogue it may prompt this is a title that will reward your diligence consistently and with a fair amount of amusement.


There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension [Draw Me A Pixel] - OK, so typically when you see games coming over in some form from the mobile space I tend to put on my skeptic hat and play “Did we really need this on a dedicated gaming console?” In the case of Wrong Dimension, though, I’ll skip right to the chase and bluntly tell you: YES! Dripping with creativity, humor, and often unexpected and unorthodox solutions to problems (OK, so you may need to make use of the in-game hint system or a FAQ in some cases when you get stuck), this is probably one of the most weirdly inventive titles I’ve played in a while. Across a few very different chapters you’ll often be at odds with the narrator, circumventing his attempts to hold you back and convince you that the title’s statement is true. There’s obvious love but valid mocking humor here for classic adventure games, a beloved Nintendo series featuring a certain warrior in time, and everyone’s not favorite, free-to-play games… and on the whole the jokes (including a few running gags) are amusing fun. While you’re able to play using the controller in docked mode it isn’t much surprise that the best way to enjoy it is in handheld mode with the touchscreen. If you’re in the mood to laugh and work through some very unique puzzles this is absolutely a title you should be checking out!


Carrion [Phobia Game Studio] - While it’s great to play games or watch movies cheering on the brave heroes who fight and persevere against horrible monstrosities, admit it: Given the chance it would be a ton of fun to spend some time on the other side of the equation. Carrion offers up just that, the opportunity to take control (well, with its swarming and morphing form perhaps it should be “control”) of a horrible mutation of a creature who enjoys chomping down on some human flesh and ragdolling them around the room for laughs… and if you have a twisted streak like I do you’ll likely do a bit of that yourself as you splatter blood all over the walls. That core bit of fun was very present at PAX, as were some puzzle-solving aspects, but in the demo you couldn’t get a solid look at how the game would challenge you. The good news is that there are some clever puzzle elements offered up that will force you to consider the situation in front of you and make smart decisions. Armed guards with a variety of weapons won’t get taken out so easily, so some degree of stealth and using alternative paths may be in order, or perhaps throwing a crate (or better yet, a body) to distract them and allow you to strike from behind. Since the experience is so unique and quite engrossing it feels like it is over a bit too quickly, but I suppose I’d rather that happen than it wearing out its welcome. This is absolutely one of the most unique games I’ve played in quite some time and is highly recommended if you’ve ever dreamed of fully unleashing your dark side.


Bridge Constructor Portal [ClockStone Software] - While there have been a few different bridge construction games on the Switch I'd say this one, by far, stands out from the rest. Not only does it feature unusual humor inspired by the presence of Portal's GLaDOS, but just in general even things like the little people trying to use your structures dying or getting flung about made me laugh. Back that up with some smart and challenging scenarios that will make you think hard about how to get through and it's a tricky but fun overall experience.


Flipping Death [Zoink!] - Whenever you talk about classic adventure titles there's roughly a standing assumption that they'll bog down at some point with obtuse item puzzles or funkiness, it's pretty well a genre staple. To combat that Flipping Death doesn't have you managing items in your inventory but instead inhabiting the bodies of the living to perform character-specific tasks to solve problems. The fact that most of these characters are extremely weird and quirky and it all adds up to a great time full of silliness and laughs but consistently challenging throughout as well.


Ms. Splosion Man [Twisted Pixel Games] - I'd heard of this title before but nothing could prepare me for just how weirdly, brilliantly silly it all is. While in principle the controls are simple, limited to moving back and forth and blowing yourself up, its the interaction with other elements in the levels to solve action puzzles and proceed that make it a load of fun. While her almost non-stop chattering of weird (and often dated) pop culture references and commentary may not be for everyone to me they just added flavor to the game's core manic energy.


Pool Panic [Rekim] - This was hands down my favorite title I'd never really heard about that I got to check out at PAX East. Thoroughly weird, consistently creative, and with terrific small but charming details and touches everywhere Pool Panic is a game that actively defies easy description. It's a mix of action, adventure, puzzles, and geometry I can easily say I've never experienced before and to top it all off that sets the stage for some unique and fun competitive local multiplayer to boot. I simply love this game and it was one I absolutely had to finish.


Yoku's Island Express [Villa Gorilla] - All I had to do was hear the words ""pinball adventure"" and my ears instantly perked up. What, again, could have been a pretty easy and by-the-numbers title thrown out to grab the attention of classic pinball fans like myself turned out to be so much more though. Yoku's Island Express is creative, quirky, challenging, and consistently surprising throughout its runtime, and put a smile on my face pretty much the entire time I played it. Throw in the fact that though it may not be terribly easy it's also extremely family-friendly and it's a title that absolutely feels at home on the Switch.


Battle Chef Brigade [Trinket Studios] - Brigade is a game that immediately sounded appealing when I heard the premise and then delivered something truly unique and engaging rather than succumbing to its own hype. One part action game for collecting your ingredients, and another Match 3 puzzler for concocting your cuisine to please the judges it makes for a strategic and often frantic affair. Throw in an RPG story with some surprising twists and Battle Chef Brigade is one of the best overall titles on the system.


Tumbleseed [aeiowu] - I consider Tumbleseed to be one of the best games on the system that very few people gave a chance. In part because it is something completely different and then due to its initial difficulty level it made itself a bit of a tough sell. With its Four Peaks patch it significantly improved on its accessibility and set things up in a way that would both be more friendly to more casual players and not punish people quite so much with unexpected issues like auras that would attack you the same as they would your enemies. Quirky, unique, and full of charm it is well worth taking the time to know and appreciate.


Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure [Stuck In Attic] - I’m pretty much always a sucker for the classic noir detective style, and when a game instead chooses to skewer it a bit with humor as well it tends to make me laugh. This point-and-click style adventure is very much in the vein of the classics from the likes of LucasArts, though as always that comes with some baggage in the form of some puzzle moments that will make you seriously consider hitting an online walkthrough. The key here though is definitely the humor that comes through in some clever dialogue and some truly odd situations, and that’s backed up by what’s generally terrific hand-drawn art. If you’re an adventure fan, this title should be satisfying.


UnMetal [@unepic_fran] - While we hardcore types love our games, that isn’t to say that when confronted with examples of the silliness we regularly accept without question we can’t have a good laugh. It’s in that spirit that UnMetal has been forged, aping the style, story, and tropiness of many classic games and movies only to then crap all over much of it… and if you’re like me that’s when hilarity ensues! The action plays out to match the story your raspy-voiced anti-hero is sharing with his interrogator, trying to explain the events that led to his current incarceration. This setup is really the critical component in the game’s humor, with the interrogator regularly stopping everything to ask an obvious question or make a pointed observation about the ridiculousness of everything that just happened or was said. Obviously having its sights set primarily on the classic Metal Gear series, the gameplay is generally very retro and arcade-y in nature but just decent, it’s really the sense of humor and the game giving you room to be outrageous that elevates it all to a different level. Perhaps if you don’t have room to laugh at the forms of entertainment you enjoy this will be a wing and a miss, as may be the case if you’re unwilling to giggle at some of the more crass humor that the game revels in. That said, if your goal is to play along and be entertained, UnMetal stands out as a game filled with laughs that will keep you playing along just to set up the next joke.


Cat Girl Without Salad [WayForward] - When it comes to weird games I’m a bit of a connoisseur on the Switch, I’ve even set aside an entire category for them specifically. Whether it’s a quirky sense of humor, unexpected gameplay elements, or just developers daring to be different I appreciate the risk of putting something left of center out there. In the case of Cat Girl Without Salad the folks at WayForward have managed to scratch pretty well every itch I could have with regards to entertainment, though I’ll very much note that befitting the budget price on the game this is a light snack of enjoyment and in no way a meal. With that in mind the strange and often hysterically funny running dialogue doesn’t get the opportunity to get tiresome, if you were going to have to repeat each level dozens of times I’m sure it would get old. But with a relatively mild degree of difficulty (though the third mission is a legit challenge) on the whole it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The thing is, aside from the great humor and unusual characters the surprise is that as a shmup it stands pretty well on its own as well, even throwing in unique weapons inspired by classic video games that generally blew me away with their creativity. While you may not love them all I’d wager at least a few of them will suit your tastes and they really elevate the shooting experience beyond the ordinary as well. For being a game inspired by an April Fools joke this is a title that shows far more love and craft than you’d expect, and as long as you don’t mind it being over too soon it’s highly recommended.


Helheim Hassle [Perfectly Paranormal] - Where weird games are concerned I may be one of the subgenre’s biggest fans. Granted, the style of play in them varies wildly but if you’re bringing some laughs, plenty of WTF moments, and gameplay that deviates from the norm I’m typically down for it. Helheim Hassle really nails all of those critical areas with gusto, and the result is one of the most bizarre and creative action platformers I’ve ever played. You see, the hook in the game is that your character Bjørn is able to remove his limbs and as you gain the ability to completely disassemble yourself the weirdness and unique challenges of reconfiguring your various body parts to gain different benefits becomes clear. However, it isn’t just the silliness of moving around as two arms and a head or any number of other combinations that works, it’s the planning and execution behind the puzzles that will test you with the need to pick the right limbs for the right reasons. You may need to trigger a lever that’s hidden away but you’ll need to trigger a platform, make a quick jump, be able to talk to someone, and then be sure once you get there that you still have an arm to work with. Doing that can actually get to be a bit of an undertaking in places and experimentation is definitely the key to success. Pair those smart and creative mechanics with an absolutely bizarre sense of humor, and legitimately funny characters and dialogue I’d say are only rivaled by the likes of the (former) folks at Zoink Games, and you have one of my favorite games of a year where a good laugh is very much appreciated.


No More Heroes [Grasshopper Manufacture] - There’s something to be said for being authentically original, for me that’s especially the case for when the general plan is to be just a bit crazy. No More Heroes is, in many regards, the antithesis of big business design by committee game making. It’s cartoonishly violent, has many over-the-top characters (who you’ll mostly be killing), a storyline that charts a dark and bloody path but is still also consistently silly, and a protagonist who is ridiculous on many levels. Your goal is to literally cut a path through the world’s top assassins to take your place at the top, and on that journey there will be a ton of bloody madness. Sequences where you’re simply plowing through big bads and their minions are broken up by completely bizarre mini games and activities like spending time with your cat to help break things up, which does help to distract from what can, at times, be a bit of a grind. Also, the fact that Travis (your character) is a pretty sexist pig and there are an abundant number of provocative angles taken featuring the female characters may be a bit much for some people to take now, making the game feel a bit dated on a level besides the overall look. While it is by no means a perfect game if you can deal with the flaws it is absolutely a rollercoaster of violence and weirdness that can be quite a lot of fun.


Baba Is You [MP2 Games] - Why settle for going the normal route and following the game’s rules to win when you can simply look for ways to change the rules instead? This simple but smart premise is central to Baba Is You and will have you playing with each stage’s rules that are represented as words on the screen that you can move around and reconfigure. Managing to keep finding new ways to challenge you throughout its runtime this is a challenging and unique puzzler absolutely worth checking out.


Freedom Finger [Wide Right Interactive] - When I originally caught this title at PAX I was drawn in by its sheer attitude, blending together some great voice acting, an abundance of perhaps crude but entertaining humor, and an absolutely kicking soundtrack. It’s when you play the game though that the nuances of a great arcade shooter emerge and impress further. The mechanics of grabbing and then either throwing enemies or using their weapons rather than power-ups is smart and effective. The fact that every track of the music influences the speed, style, and flow of each stage is then just icing on the cake. In many regards Freedom Finger defies easy traditional characterization, never fully committing to any set arcade style and instead providing a pretty balanced buffet of action and smart level designs. That ultimately help it stand out just as much as its surface-level fun and makes it easy to recommend if you’re up for some giggles and a challenge.


My Friend Pedro [DeadToast Entertainment] - All in all My Friend Pedro handily delivers what it promises, bonkers gunplay, challenging scenarios, and when you’re on top of things a ballet of violence. It would have still been a blast to play even with less variety, but the care put into upping the stakes and providing plenty of insane situations over its runtime is very much appreciated. Be aware that the struggle to succeed while looking cool can be very real, you’ll need to take things one step at a time and develop your repertoire for slow-motion violence before it all moves to another level of fun, but the investment is well worth your while.


GoNNER [Art in Heart] - I'm not gonna lie, GoNNER gets off to a very rough start and it a true roguelike in that it is frustrating and hard as balls. That said, as you get the hang of it and unlock more heads, weapons, and gear you'll find combinations that work for you through experimentation and then things start to look up. There are some terrific combinations that are a lot of fun but I tend to gravitate towards the scythe and shark fin for maximum carnage. What brings it all together is the reactive audio that continues to get more frantic as you increase your multiplier and then once you reach a certain point it all goes crazy! If you're down for a challenge it is one of my favorite titles on the Switch!


Thimbleweed Park [Terrible Toybox] - The classic LucasArts adventure games were staple PC titles always guaranteeing great laughs from their quirky characters, silly dialogue, and often-bizarre puzzles. Now some of the best minds behind those classic titles have come back to the table with Thimbleweed Park, hopefully exposing a new generation to their signature style and sense of humor. While the pace is a bit slower than people are likely used to the Switch's touchscreen makes it an ideal platform for playing these games quickly and effectively. Thimbleweed Park is a terrific reminder of how well humor can work in games.


Astrologaster [Nyamyam] - Inspired by the spirit of Shakespeare’s Renaissance England, Astrologaster features a unique pop-up book art style, choral verse that tells the story of your character “Doctor” Forman and his patients, and use of the stars to try to help guide your patients through problems both medical and interpersonal. It’s a bit of an oddity, to say the least, but that’s also what I really enjoyed about it. Once you get used to the constraints of what you’ll be able to diagnose and how you’ll have the option to try to take things seriously, generally tapping into your common sense and intuition, or having some fun potentially at the expense of your clients. Regardless there are some laughs and surprises along the way to be had and as unusual as it all is I must admit that I was intrigued to play through a few more appointments in order to see a follow-up with one of my repeat customers to get a handle on what happened after I imparted my advice the last time. It’s not a game to be taken seriously but its unique presentation and style make it well worth a look if you’re in the mood for something thoroughly different.


Boyfriend Dungeon [Kitfox Games] - Elevator pitch time… so what if the goal was to make a game that fully embraces and meshes together intense slashing roguelike combat and… a dating sim?!? Yeah, I know, right… these things just seem to naturally belong together, for sure. Despite the clash in styles, and though not without some flaws, I have to throw my hat off to the folks at Kitfox Games for putting earnest effort into getting both right in parallel, not obviously neglecting the quality of one for the other and making their genre-bending only a half-hearted effort. The definite risk is that while it does a good job on both ends of the spectrum it wouldn’t necessarily stand up to the best in the genre on either side. Particularly on the roguelike action side since the combat, though decent, isn’t as fluid and varied per weapon to the level that other games in the eShop have set the bar to, but it’s certainly enough to keep you entertained. The only other criticism I would have is that conceptually wanting to have the best weapon for you in dungeons can put you on a very different path from who you want to get to work with romantically, so when this is in conflict it can make things a bit weird, even if the dialogue generally allows you to keep the tone and mood under control to a degree. It’s a weird one, for sure, but it works surprisingly well on the whole.


Cyber Hook [Blazing Stick] - Having originally checked it out at PAX East last year, Cyber Hook was a title I was pretty eagerly waiting to see in its final form. A neon-lit parkour title with a mix of running, jumping, some shooting, grappling, and a fair amount of crashing and burning it’s just a very different experience altogether. I’m happy to see that the final product does seem more polished and diverse in its level designs, though that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t have an occasional rough edge you’ll encounter. The main thing I love about it is the almost Spider-Man like flow you’ll need to get into in order to sling yourself around the course. Now, getting to the point where you can execute that can take some work, execution is everything and jumping from your grapple line can be tricky to get the hang of pulling off consistently… but when it clicks it can be very satisfying. While the likes of speedrunners will, no doubt, hone their runs to perfection what I enjoy most is the improv of it all. Your plan will tend to go south quickly and often and the fun is in recovering and pulling it off anyway, in many ways reminding me of the same sort of thrill I got from the under-rated ClusterTruck. This won’t be a game that will work for everyone, but it’s different, challenging, plays well in quick bursts, and can be just as entertaining, if not more, when runs go wrong as when they go right.


Epic Chef [Infinigon Games] - 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.


Epistory: Typing Chronicles [Fishing Cactus] - Forgive me, but I’m an absolute sucker for games that do things differently… in fact, I tend to seek them out. One of the least represented styles of games out there is the typing game genre. With the only truly memorable title I can recall in the space being Typing of the Dead (which needs to be on Switch, BTW), it’s simply a rarity out there. So when something like Epistory comes along with that style of play as the hook and then pairs it with a unique art style and a very pleasant fantasy story it’s almost a guarantee that I’ll be smitten.So, yeah, making sure you have the proper setup to play this could be a challenge. You’ll need to hook up a keyboard via the USB port in your dock and then, depending on the length of your cord and how your Switch is situated, there may be some challenges. If you can overcome that though, what awaits is just a taste of something different, and if you’re not pretty nimble typing you may find it’s a bit too tough for you when things get more intense. What strikes me as a bit odd is a criticism that the more you play the more many enemies and words will begin to repeat themselves… as if this isn’t a reality in all games of all types, and for some of the trickier things in the game’s vocabulary you’ll be wishing the well wasn’t quite so deep since things like more scientific terms you’re less likely to know on sight so they can be a challenge. For me the game is chock full of enchantment and is simply a breath of fresh air, so if you’re able to manage a way to get it set up in a way that playing it is viable I’m happy to recommend it.


Happy Game [Amanita Design] - Like a moth to a flame I tend to be easily drawn to the oddball titles on Switch, and there’s no doubt that Happy Game qualifies for that distinction in spades. Very deceptively titled, unless nightmare fuel puts you in a happy mood I suppose (yes, I know there’s plenty of you out there), while the experience only lasts a few hours it’s one helluva trippy ride. In terms of gameplay style it mostly plays out with puzzles, but not with any set sort of consistent rules. More often than not you’ll just need to move your pointer around the screen and click or drag on objects (or nightmare monsters) in order to change or trigger them, working out what must be done. The rewards for your efforts are typically some very weird or somewhat terrifying visuals that will either make you laugh (if you’re a bit twisted, like me) or perhaps regret ever deciding to play the game. An absolutely appropriate treat for this time of year, Happy Game may be on the short side but there’s not much question that time is at least memorable.


Kill It With Fire [Casey Donnellan Games LLC] - While possibly not an ideal game for arachnophobes, Kill It With Fire is what I’d consider a “wacky physics type game” done right, as long as you have patience with its quirks. Each stage consists of multiple rooms full of objects that you’ll want to pick up and sometimes inspect, eventually finding a hidden creepy crawly that you’ll want to squish. While initially you’ll need to use the clipboard that displays your objectives early on you’ll find some hairspray that, when paired with a lighter, will let you have a bit more fun, just be careful to conserve your “ammo” and try not to light the whole place on fire in the process. As you go you’ll find new gear to help you be more effective and have fun, and with patience you’ll often find hidden rooms and goodies to reward your diligence. As is the case with many games with this sort of feel it is by no means perfect, but usually it’s the quirk and oddity that help add to the fun… and there’s nothing quite as satisfying and lighting a red spider who’ll spawn spiderlings on fire, then having them all come out flaming while running around causing general chaos. An odd treat.


Luckslinger [Duckbridge] - As a fan of games that subvert expectations and are determined to simply be a bit weird, Luckslinger puts a smile on my face. At its base it’s a retro-styled side-scrolling Western gunslinger that has you shooting, reloading, jumping, and rolling as you make your way through levels and take out your foes. If it were only that the game would just be middling. But add in an attack duck, a luck mechanic that can help or hinder you, a cavalcade of weird characters and humor including a minister who spits some great rhymes, and cut-scenes that randomly throw in modern musical beat drops or other incongruous elements and it just becomes something unique. There’s no doubt the play, especially in the shootouts with bosses, can get tough and will demand that you work out how best to use what luck you have to your advantage. That said, the promise for what weirdness may come next, sometimes prompting a laugh, is a pretty great motivation to figure it out. Tack on a budget-friendly price and this is just a welcome detour from the typical that I thoroughly enjoyed.


Say No! More [Fizbin] - The thing about “weird games” is that they can be very hard to define or describe by typical genre rules or through comparison. Say No! More may be best understood simply by checking out some gameplay or being told by someone like me that it’s strange, made me laugh, and at times even felt cathartic to play. It’s clear that the people behind the game aren’t big fans of traditional “corporate culture”, so in particular if you’ve been in an office and totally get and love the jokes in the movie Office Space, you may really dig this. After being encouraged to discover and unleash your inner contrarian stage by stage you’ll develop a nuanced set of ways to respond in the negative, armed as well with some great trolly expressions like a slow clap to further drive your enemies mad. Rather than being focused on specific strategies or tactics the game is more about you choosing how to express your own style and simply enjoying yourself, perhaps finally letting go a lifetime of pent up frustrations with people you’ve reported to who’ve been insufferable asshats. Unleash your inner “No!” and, even if only for a moment, live a life without fear of repercussions with a smile on your face.


Very Very Valet [Toyful Games] - Blending together time management sims, an injection of Crazy Taxi road silliness, and (ideally) multiplayer madness, Very Very Valet is a unique title on Switch that can offer quite a bit of silly fun unlike pretty much anything on the system. Your goal will generally be to take cars from incoming customers, depositing them somewhere (you don’t need to use the lot if you don’t want to), and then getting their cars back to them when they’re done with their dinner. While this starts out relatively simply it very quickly gets to be a hectic mess and that’s where you’ll ideally be able to play with at least one other person since solo I don’t know that the game does a great job of scaling things down as you progress. Throw in surprises in the form of alternative levels that will have you engaging in even more ridiculous activities and this is a terrific change of pace and style in multiplayer games that people should enjoy.


Golf Zero [Colin Lane Games AB] - Who knew that a game that initially confused me quite a bit in terms of what you were supposed to be doing (it should probably be more clear in the initial stages how you should be playing) could end up making me a fan. This is absolutely one of the more unusual games I’ve played this year really mixing up a puzzle platformer with golf to make something completely new and different. You see, you’re able to make your shots while in the air, which you’ll absolutely need to do the majority of the time, and while you can’t control your shot strength (in the end, probably a blessing) time will slow when you initiate your shot, making your focus aiming one or more shots in the hopes of finding success. Where it really can get diabolical is when you then layer the objectives that need to be met for a gold medal into the mix, forcing you to go the extra mile and prove your skills further. If you’re easily frustrated this probably won’t be a good fit for you but as a lover of quirky games that take a big chance on swimming upstream I have to give credit where it is due, this is a smart and pretty challenging budget title that deserves some attention.


Nine Witches: Family Disruption [Indiesruption] - Walking into the Nine Witches experience I hadn’t seen enough about the game to know what I was in for. It turned out the answer was quite a lot of laughs, some tricky puzzles to solve in order to progress, and an element of the unexpected to boot. In the game you’ll alternate playing as the paralyzed psychic Alexei and his more able-bodied assistant Akiro. While most of the time you’ll be playing as Akiro since he’ll be the one carrying the inventory and manipulating objects, Alexei quite regularly is essential to progress with his ability to go into a trance and move about in spirit form. Whether talking to ghosts, using a sort of radar to suss out hidden object locations, or simply being able to pass through locked doors with ease it’s very important to always remember you have these abilities available to you when you’re feeling stuck, as they’re essential pretty regularly. For the most part the challenges don’t get too complex or outlandish, which is a help, but I’d say that the occasional shootout sections do feel a bit sudden at times and perhaps out of place, even if they’re thankfully rare and for the most part manageable. If your taste in adventures is more geared toward pixel-based classics with a sense of humor this does an excellent job of capturing that essence with console-geared controls which are a plus.


No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle [Grasshopper Manufacture] - It’s a tough thing to make a follow-up title to a game that is revered in part because it breaks the mold. On either side you have the pitfalls of deviating too far from the path of the original’s success and the risk that people will just consider it more of the same. Perhaps it helps when you’re dealing with a title like No More Heroes though, which undoubtedly had a solid helping of craziness integrated into the mix. While this sequel doesn’t make too many major changes at the core, it does work to trim out some unnecessary elements like needing to ride around town to missions (even if your bike was cool) and pretty well doubles down on the helping of over-the-topness that made the original a blast. There were several times this sequel threw some great “WTF?” moments at me an elicited a laugh, the lack of any attempt at having a tether to reality at times could be considered a little too silly by some I suppose but for me it just further enhanced the fun that makes the title a stand-out. Now, again I will warn that Travis and people he deals with are pretty well sexist pigs and the somewhat constant focus on scantily-clad female anatomy can get a bit old and even creepy after a while, but when it comes to the action and strange story elements going along for the ride is full of unexpected fun.


Sam & Max Save the World [Skunkape Games] - I will gladly and freely admit to my bias here, ever since the original Sam & Max Hit the Road made way back when for PC I’ve been a fan of this silly animal duo. Steeped with humor thoroughly reminiscent of the glory days of point and click LucasArts adventures this Telltale continuation of their legacy is well-scripted and a wonderful love letter in general to the classic feel of the genre, though in a 3D rendered world rather than the traditional 2D pixel art style. With Sam playing the relatively straight (but undoubtedly quirky) man to the somewhat unpredictable and unrepentantly nutty Max this duo moves through the game with jokes aplenty about anything and everything they’re given the opportunity to comment on. Granted, not all of the jokes connect, some of the humor now feels a bit dated, and there’ll be people who simply don’t like them as characters but for me there’s a consistent reason to keep a smile on your face throughout the game, even if as always some of the unusual methods you’ll need to employ to get through the game’s puzzles may require some quick reading of a walkthrough for hints to keep you moving.


Vitamin Connection [WayForward] - One thing that’s certainly interesting about the Switch is that somehow it has managed to inspire new types of gameplay at times with its portability, easy-to-share design, and built-in motion controls. Now, granted, the results of the experiments that seem to have stemmed from these features have varied pretty wildly, but when it all comes together it can be pretty exciting. In general that’s how it feels in the case of Vitamin Connection, a title that has an upbeat and cheery color scheme (of a familiar pairing of colors, mind you), soundtrack, and gameplay that blends careful maneuvering, rotating your ship, some shooting, and a few other touches that together make the game not quite like anything else I’ve played. The fact that you can choose to tackle it solo or with a friend is also a terrific feature, and in either case you’ll be presented with challenges, albeit generally different ones in terms of the controls and what you’ll need to have under control. In the case of solo play the challenge will be a degree of left/right brain thinking, managing to have steady control of your ship and to not allow yourself to get distracted. With co-op the challenge will very much be to either somehow be in synch with one another or to use a fair amount of precise and hopefully constructive language to coordinate. With a satisfying story mode (which includes a New Game+ variation) that sports a weido silly story and a gameplay mix of puzzle, action, and even shooting elements, and then add co-op and mini games where you can revisit key parts of the story with unique variations and this is a full fledged experience that should be highly accessible for just about anyone who likes to have fun and laugh while being challenged


Death Coming [Zodiac Interactive] - If you’ve got a bit of a sick streak this game absolutely delivers great moments that will make you break out your most evil laugh. Sure, dropping a potted plant on someone’s head is fun as a one-off kill but the game’s consistent pattern of giving you breadcrumbs for how to trigger a big event, but not having it be clear what will happen until you kick it off, makes for some bloody surprises that are a ton of fun. This is a great game to slowly explore and is full of discovery moments that often lead to hilarious death and destruction. If that statement doesn’t offend you, and instead makes you giggle with anticipation this is likely a title for you.


Goat Simulator: The GOATY [Coffee Stain Studios] - Among the many weirdo physics games I’ve played there’s never been anything quite like Goat Simulator. At a highly counter-intuitive level it somehow manages to be goofy, charming, and fun. That is, if you can accept that the entire plan behind it is to make a game using what look to be a ton of generic assets thrown together, blended into an unusual soup, and then served to you “as is”. If the thought of playing a janky game full of clipping and questionable controls completely turns you off you absolutely won’t want to consider this game, it will drive you up the wall. However, if you want to experience one of the most pure (and unusual) sandbox games there is, you should check out some video and get a feel for it. This GOATY edition that has come to Switch has more variety and weird goat-y-ness than should perhaps be allowed, but if you’re open to seeing the fun in it I’d say it’s absolutely worth checking out.


Pig Eat Ball [Mommy's Best Games] - When a game comes along that has classic arcade-style sensibilities and it is just plain weird it is pretty well sure to get my attention. On both fronts Pig Eat Ball delivers, with an oddball experience and a ton of levels that are reminiscent of classics like Pac-Man but with a weirdo take and a bit more strategy involved. You see, the issue is that as you consume more balls you’ll continue to get more rotund, which can then restrict you from getting around. The solution? Throw them back up, of course. This makes for some entertainment as well as quite a bit of strategy as you try to complete the level objectives as quickly as possible yet for the most part your available skills are limited. Where the fun really kicks into gear is with the game’s sheer variety of settings and variations of levels, you really never can know quite what to expect, and that’s what really put the experience over the top for me.


Super Cane Magic Zero [STUDIO EVIL] - Though it’s not an experience everyone will enjoy Super Cane Magic Zero does more right than wrong and is simply a game that does its own thing without apologies, something I can respect. Mechanically it may be a bit sloppy and there can be a lack of coherence at times, but there’s just an energetic and weird enthusiasm to everything that makes it easier to overlook faults. If you’re looking to laugh and enjoy yourself exploring a weird and colorful world and experimenting with everything there is to do it’s definitely worth checking out.


Bendy and the Ink Machine [TheMeatly Games] - Since there haven’t been a ton of games in this vein on the Switch to date if you’re a fan of some scares and a sense of unease Bendy and the Ink Machine delivers nicely and should scratch that itch. The fact that it’s not bloody or over the top could work as a pro or a con depending on what you’re looking for but I like how effectively the setting and strange characters created a real sense of unease throughout. While it may not be for everyone Bendy and his friends make for a very strange and enjoyable experience.


Bomb Chicken [Nitrome] - Taking the silly premise of a bomb-laying chicken and then milking it for all its worth Bomb Chicken is an unusual mix of platforming and puzzling. You’ll need to be careful and precise in how you lay your bombs, whether to destroy obstacles or to stack them on top of each other to reach other levels. Completely different, silly, and fun this is a great mix of gameplay styles that works very well on Switch.


Super Daryl Deluxe [Dan & Gary Games] - For me there's something really funny about such an unassuming (and honestly dumb-looking) burnout of a kid looking to save the day. Sort of working as a side-scrolling action RPG you'll need to carefully choose which of Daryl's many ridiculous powers to use for success. Facing off against a menagerie of enemies that are almost as unusual as Daryl himself this is an oddball title with a ton of content that doesn't skimp on the challenge.


Bulb Boy [Bulbware] - While it isn't a terribly long adventure Bulb Boy is a creative journey with an unusual art style that consistently challenges and entertains. You'll never quite know what to expect next and the puzzles you'll be asked to solve in his journey require a wide variety of solutions. A great weekend adventure if you're looking for something different to try out.


Octodad: Dadliest Catch [Young Horses, Inc] - What will likely either attract people to Octodad or scare them away will be its unorthodox control and style of play. If you’re looking for a serious challenge with tight controls and impeccable level design you will very much come away disappointed. If, however, you’re open to the experience and the humor of it all Octodad is an excellent representation of the genre as a whole and plays very well as a handheld game to boot. If you’re looking for a major change of pace on the Switch Octodad will be happy to help you out with that!


Serial Cleaner [iFun4all] - Oozing retro 70s style in both its art and soundtrack Serial Cleaner is a more action-oriented game but it still boils down to puzzles of a sort. How do you avoid the patrolling cops (some of which don't move in set and predictable patterns), clean up blood, pick up evidence, and haul bodies to your car to dispose of them? Each map has its own challenges and as you progress the areas you'll need to cover continue to get more expansive. A great touch is that hiding spots and evidence will begin to move around a little as well, keeping you from having a set solution. It will test your patience and your sneaking skills but it is a good time.


DEEEER Simulator [Gibier Games] - Weirdo physics games are definitely their own thing, probably best championed by the reigning king of the genre, the Goat Simulator series. Perhaps obviously from the title, DEEEER Simulator has its sights set in that same direction and to its credit while there are similarities between the two this has a flavor all its own. It does take a little experimentation and trial and error to get rolling, as the game doesn’t really explain the extent of what you can do so you’ll want to be observant, explore, and try things out, building knowledge as you go. I wouldn’t consider the gameplay to be deep, but it certainly can be satisfying in its silliness, pulling in elements of Grand Theft Auto to some degree, giant mech combat, and other surprises for those who stick with it and are open to the experience. It may not be art, but it does have its goofy charms.


Destroy All Humans! [Black Forest Games] - This is one of those titles from the XBox generation that I’ve always heard talked about with some reverence but had never previously had a chance to partake in. Undeniably weird, and consisting of a pretty fair variety of tasks from mind control, to some stealth, to all-out blowing stuff up and more I was also pleasantly surprised with how it remained pretty fresh throughout for the most part… though perhaps its pacing and reliance on connective cut-scenes that each need to load feels pretty dated as well. In terms of looks and performance I’d say it’s pretty consistent with many refreshed updates from previous generations, with everything having a certain unrefined look and some performance quirks at times that typically run a bit more pronounced when playing in handheld mode. All in all I can understand why people enjoyed Destroy All Humans in its original outing, and putting myself into the time when it was released I can even see how it would have fared well among its brethren, if nothing else by just being an atypical animal in the herd. If you’re feeling nostalgic and would like to recapture some of that fun it will likely deliver the goods, but if you don’t have that connection it’s up in the air for a recommendation… and would really depend on whether your love for games that feel off-center and different with abundant humor is more important than more compelling and consistent action and excitement.


Hitchhiker: A Mystery Game [Mad About Pandas] - As the definition of what’s a game has continued to evolve and diversify over the years we’ve seen increasingly creative titles enter the space. In the case of Hitchhiker: A Mystery Game you have more of a semi-interactive experience than game, with you hopping a ride with a few very different people with whom you’ll have some very different conversations and experiences with… and with some point-and-click adventure-esque elements strewn about in between to keep you a little more engaged than simply clicking to advance the dialogue. The result is odd, at times unnerving, and certainly a bit unexpected. As would be the case in real life this won’t be a ride for everyone, for sure, but if you’re game for something different it will get you to that destination.


Jars [Mousetrap Games] - With a visual style somewhere between Tim Burton and the characters in Don’t Starve, there’s a timeliness to the creepy general vibes Jars gives off. While getting the hang of how best to make use of your limited resources for the most strategic benefit can take a few tries in some cases, this works out to be an odd and faster-paced variation on tower defense in many regards. In each scenario you’ll have items you’ll need to protect, and then vials you’ll need to break, which can contain your creatures and items you’ll use or various types of critters who’ll be trying to wreck the things you’re trying to protect. From stage to stage the degree of difficulty and intensity can vary a bit wildly, so you’ll need to be ready for anything, but with quick thinking and action you’ll always ultimately have the means to succeed at your disposal, you’ll just need to work quickly and effectively, and sometimes have a very sound plan ready to go. I will say that the interface for managing your critters and their perks, which is absolutely necessary for your success, can be a bit clunky with console controls, but aside from that and what your tastes are in challenges, this at least stands out as a very different flavor of strategy on multiple levels in the eShop and that alone may make it worth a glance for genre fans.


Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Dry Twice [CrazyBunch] - Leisure Suit Larry is a franchise I’ve been with since the very earliest days pretty much. While I missed the original, a few titles in I got looped into the series on my early PC and then went back to play the originals. Certainly at the time it was all pushing the boundaries of what you could get away with in terms of heavy innuendo and suggestive imagery but it was often quite clever. Having had attempted reboots a few times already in the last decade or so I wasn’t positive the character could work anymore, and some of the more crass efforts did nothing to dissuade me from that line of thinking. With Wet Dreams Dry Twice though I think they’ve gotten pretty close to finding a way to honor the humor and odd creativity of the original titles while being more mindful of how things have changed radically since those earlier days. Certainly this won’t be a title for everyone and there’s still an abundance of humor that could be considered inappropriate. Nonetheless, there’s also enough heart and earnestness in this attempt that I’m happy to say I found Larry’s sort of return to form (though continually made aware with how things have changed) to be refreshing, if still a bit cringe in places.


One-Eyed Lee and the Dinner Party [Ratalaika Games] - I’ve tended to be pretty clear in my distaste for pure visual novels and their lack of interactivity, and when I started this title I had some concerns it was headed in that direction with quite a bit of (often clever) dialogue to get it rolling. Thankfully, while it has a focus on story-telling and character interactions this plays out more like the love child of a visual novel and a classic adventure title, borrowing elements from both and trying to make the most of it. The adventure elements have been stripped down and streamlined, for sure, but that makes it a more frustration-free affair, leaving you unconcerned with obtuse puzzles or mucking around with 10 different combinations of items in your inventory in the hopes you’ll land where the developers wanted you to. On the story-telling side both the main characters and the interesting “people” they encounter and need to work with (and against) provide for a fair amount of humor which can also be at least partially directed by your choices along the way. While the whole affair only lasts a few hours there’s enough quirk and charm here to at least entertain with a taste of something just a bit different, which is always refreshing.


Rain on Your Parade [Unbound Creations] - While most people spend so much of their lives consciously trying to be kind and courteous with others that isn’t to say they can’t have a mean streak in them. Since even in games I tend to stay the noble course I do personally enjoy those that take being nice off the table… requiring that you unleash your inner jerk that has been so starved for air. Much like Untitled Goose Game before it, Rain on Your Parade is all about letting you not only let your asshole flag fly but also to typically revel in it. Let yourself cackle as you send people running, ruin special events, and generally run amok… it’s liberating. What helps elevate it further is simple creativity and variety in the scenarios and what you’ll need to try to do, keeping the experience from being one note. There are some cases where mechanically working out the nuance of what you need to do and how can be frustrating at first, but for the most part you’ll be too busy enjoying the chaos of it all to be bothered if you’ve got virtual karma points you’ve been saving up to burn all at once.


The Procession to Calvary [Joe Richardson] - As a connoisseur of weirdo games I’ve seen a whole lot of different approaches to taking the ordinary and going in a completely different direction then normal but nothing quite like Procession to Calvary. Mechanically playing as a relatively simple point-and-click adventure, what absolutely sets it apart is its bizarre and somewhat Monty Python-esque visual style and sense of humor. Tapping into the world of public domain to use classic paintings and stock music is a smart move, and doing things with that art that are completely unexpected and silly actually ends up being quite a bit of fun, even though undoubtedly it won’t suit everyones’ tastes. While it may not be a perfect experience, and only clocks in with a few hours of play time, Procession to Calvary is a sweet and weird treat that people who seek out unusual tastes should take the time to savor.


Unreal Life [Hako Seikatsu] - Starting out as a young woman woken up with the aid of an AI-driven talking traffic light, disoriented, and apparently without any recollection of who or where you are, Unreal Life certainly comes out of the gate a bit weird. With some help from the said traffic light you do begin to piece some fragments together, in part through the discovery that you’re able to see moments of the past by touching objects in the environment. There’s no doubt it’s odd, but then relatively quickly some shocks and glimpses of a terrible incident pop into view and it’s hard not to get a bit hooked. It’s the game’s mixing of oddities like you befriending a traffic light or conversing with a penguin with some regularity but then veering into some pretty dark territory as well that help it stand out, but for those same reasons it won’t be for everyone.


Disc Room [Terri, Dose, Kitty, and JW] - As a self-avowed lover of the classic days of arcade games a title like Disc Room makes almost perfect sense to me, though I’ll admit not everyone may be as eager to latch on to its unusual concept. Your goal is simply survival while trying to unlock new rooms in a remote base near the planet Jupiter. Your obstacle? A wide variety of absolutely lethal bladed discs of all sorts of shapes and sizes that will cut you in half on contact. Lacking a means to simply shoot or punch your way out of this situation all you’re really left with is running like hell and leveraging those dormant crazy dodging skills you’ve been building up through all of your years of gaming. In order to progress you’ll need to complete all sorts of objectives, starting with obvious things like surviving for a certain amount of time, but then including more unusual ones that reward failure like dying to as many different types of discs as possible. Thankfully as you get further you’ll also gain some new abilities that will make things a little bit easier but that won’t change the fact that to be successful you’ll need to be a dodging prodigy. That may not make it for everyone but for action junkies it’s a good time.


Rock Of Ages 3: Make & Break [ACE Team] - There’s nothing wrong with a little weirdness and quirk and I’ve been very pleased that the Switch has delivered quite a bit in that vein over its lifespan. One of the more successful funky series in terms of its longevity has been Rock Of Ages, historically featuring an unusual sort of first-person pinball / destruction derby experience all while serving up various bits of silliness to sweeten the deal. This third iteration comes to Switch packing in even more variety, as well as provisions for community-based fun, whether grabbing levels created by others, contributing yourself, or if you’re lucky maybe taking on some opponents head to head. The main campaign uses it’s humorous storyline to serve up all of the variety the game has to offer, moving between what are roughly races, more classic levels bent on destruction, and now even a tower defense variant. The variety is actually where the game stumbles a bit, as not only is the tower defense poorly explained, in general these stages just aren’t very interesting or fun by comparison, and the controls don’t really feel up to snuff either. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll likely have good reason to invest in another round but if you’re new to the series and may not be intrigued by the potential for community-made levels the previous iteration may be more appealing as a starting point at a more humble price.


Speed Dating for Ghosts [Copychaser Games] - These days indie developers have created sort of a Wild Wild West atmosphere for what you can expect in games, and certainly with a title like Speed Dating for Ghosts it’s hard not to be a bit puzzled wondering what it’s all about. While the general premise is just what the title says, you talking to 3 different ghosts in the context of speed dating sessions, it’s really a game about the stories they have to tell. Ranging from humorous, to awkward, to somewhat sad and touching, in a pretty brief amount of time and through generally casual conversations it’s surprising how much you can learn from these ghosts across from you and even connect with them a bit depending on your own life story. Each playthrough, where you’ll meet 3 ghosts, talk to them a bit, and then decide whose story you want to see concluded to a degree, is relatively short but if you enjoy meeting unusual characters with varied and interesting stories that you may need to follow the right branching dialogue paths to tell it may be satisfying to you.


Spinch [Queen Bee Games] - When I was in kindergarten I saw the movie The Yellow Submarine, and though I was far too young to really process what was in front of me it certainly left an impression. Very quickly, Spinch managed to give me flashbacks to that experience with its vibrant colors, weirdo enemies, and generally cheery overall feel. Oh, but this game is a very tricksy Hobbit indeed, as once you get a few levels in the surprises and challenges start to kick in. While it looks pretty innocent (though thoroughly weird) to get through some levels in this game you’re going to have to grit your teeth, dig in, and make an investment with your patience. There aren’t very many controls to master, just a jump and a dash, but their timing and combination together have more nuance than you’d assume and you’ll need to be on top of that nuance if you want to get through periodic tough spots. Having far more variety and depth than its trippy visuals would imply, this is a surprising (and pretty affordable) treat for platforming fans willing to take a chance on it.


Supermarket Shriek [BillyGoat Entertainment Ltd] - Ah, I do appreciate a weirdo title and Supermarket Shriek is more than happy to deliver. Played either solo or with a friend the controls and concept of the gameplay are pretty basic. You’ll use the shoulder triggers on each side to control the propulsive scream of either the man or tha goat sitting on either side of the cart, providing forward (or is it backwards?) momentum if both are screaming and allowing you to turn with only one doing it. You’ll then pair that with what are usually like obstacle courses in various stores that will challenge you to try to be precise and get them through it while working against the clock. With all of the varied traps, obstacles, jumps to be cleared, and simple limits of how accurately you’ll be able to steer it can be a real challenge. While the style of play likely won’t be for everyone I do appreciate the silliness and the attempt to make another approachable oddball game for the system.


Beat Cop [11 bit studios] - All in all while it got off to a bit of a slow start, once I eased into my daily routine I found the game to be pretty fascinating, and certainly not quite like anything I’ve played. Initially going for the clean-nosed, no-nonsense style of policework I’ll admit it didn’t take too long before dabbling in some bribes or looking the other way when the situation seemed to warrant it began trickling in. Even when caught taking a bribe one time the penalty wasn’t terribly severe compared to the potential for benefits so in general I tended towards moderation but the game would seem perfectly comfortable with you going full Bad Lieutenant as well. Ultimately I found myself more wrapped up in the minutia of my daily routine and decisions than the ultimate narrative but if you’re looking for something very different Beat Cop delivers quite nicely.


Holy Potatoes! We're In Space?! [Daylight Studios] - In the end I was a bit slow to warm up to the game’s charms but once I hit my stride I began to really have some fun with it. As strategy games go it is pretty light, but that also makes it quite approachable. I believe that having a plan and investing your money and resources wisely makes a difference but on the whole I’m also not positive you couldn’t do pretty well simply stumbling through things at many points as well. If you’re down for some silliness mixed into your casual strategy it’s a pretty good fit and it seems very reasonable for the asking price as well.


Plunge [Spooky Buns Games] - While there’s no doubt that many may be drawn in by the unusual art style of Plunge, what should make you linger is its unique gameplay… working as roguelike dungeon puzzler of sorts. You’ll be dropped into a level with the goal of first unlocking and then reaching the exit. To get there you’ll need to work through enemies, traps, and puzzles, needing to be careful not to get yourself cornered and using some strategy to maneuver around the stage. There are situations where the isometric view doesn’t work quite so well, particularly when there gets to be quite a lot of enemies roaming about, but the quirks, engaging boss battles, and bits of variety that make each playthrough a little different help distinguish this unusual title.


Pressure Overdrive [Chasing Carrots] - I’m a bit on the fence on Pressure Overdrive when it comes to scoring. One the one hand it’s a very unique idea and for the most part it works well, and offers you enough choice to allow just about anyone to find gear that works for them. On the other it has its moments but on the whole the races begin to feel a bit repetitive, not doing enough to differentiate from each other after a while. If you’re a fan of arcade racing and shooting this combination of the two may be good for some fun, but if neither are something you get super excited about it may not sustain your interest for long.


The Office Quest [11Sheep] - While in some regards The Office Quest is a bit bare bones, lacking in any concrete story or character development, it compensates well by simply being weird. As with all titles in the genre frustration can, at times, set in as you try to figure out what you need to do but the relatively small areas you’ll be in helps to ensure there’s not too many options for what to do so stumbling onto solutions tends to happen at a decent pace. If you’re looking for something a bit goofy and fun, with some nice brain-teasing traditional puzzles thrown in along the way, The Office Quest can be a lot of silly fun.


ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove [Humanature Studios] - This is very much a title where you’ll either choose to embrace the funkiness and odd pacing for how unique they are or you’ll probably have strong negative feelings about it. It’s not quite like anything else you’ve likely played but at the same time there may be a good reason for that since it can feel very random at times, focused more on its gags and weirdness than on compelling gameplay. I actually am finding it very difficult to score as where there’s normally some sort of standard to evaluate against with this title it’s just so far out there that it defies comparison. If you’re a fan of the original it’s absolutely worth checking out, beyond that you’ll just need to take a look at the gameplay and see if the game’s pacing and sense of humor suit you.


Truberbrook [Merge Games] - If you’re looking for something with a bit more quirk, some initial mystery, and a load of enjoyable characters Trüberbrook has the goods. Whether you’ll consider the streamlined inventory usage method an improvement or an affront will likely play into how much you enjoy the game, personally though it didn’t always suit me I’ll acknowledge it did save me time. While the latter portion of the game doesn’t quite match up to the promise of the first half its still a nice and quirky option to have in the Switch lineup.


Garage [tinyBuild] - This title which, at a glance, looks like a twin-stick zombie shooter meets Hotline Miami won't be for everyone but I really ended up enjoying the odd journey it took me on. You'll need to carefully manage your ammo, shoot wisely, and know when to break out your melee weapon while you go deeper and deeper into weirdness and often end up questioning what is even real.


Manual Samuel [Perfectly Paranormal] - What story there is over the handful of hours you’ll play tends to be odd as well, but the strange characters and the ever-present narrator commentating on what you’re doing (complete with celebratory hashtags for mundane achievements like taking a leak) do a good job of rewarding your continued efforts. If you can see the amusement of nearly killing yourself while simply trying to drink some water or narrowly avoiding running over little old ladies while struggling to control your car (of course complete with a manual transmission) the experience has its silly rewards. Given the likely polarizing nature of the game’s controls Manual Samuel gets a highly conditional recommendation. If you’re willing to roll with the punches, there’s definitely a unique good time to be had here, just be very aware of its intent to make controlling just about anything more challenging than you’d ever imagine.


Party Hard [Pinokl Games] - Given the theme and morbid action of the game it’s absolutely not something for everyone. With its pixel art looks it never gets terribly graphic but playing a game in the role of a mass murderer won’t be for everyone. The fact that every time you hit a party you can’t count on any specific element being in the same place or present at all is a terrific touch that guarantees there’s no consistent path to success, you’ll just need to improvise sometimes. I’ll give Party Hard credit, it’s a unique and challenging spin on a puzzle game that delivers some fun if you’re on board with its style… and have a fair amount of patience.


Pato Box [Bromio] - Aside from the difficulty potentially being a bit much, though not necessarily inconsistent with the toughest foes you’d face in the Punch-Out series, there aren’t too many concerns. Traditional controls are generally pretty tight, responding quickly so you can try to keep yourself alive, and there’s also an option to go with motion controls that do work but I don’t generally favor. They seem to be about as well implemented as those in ARMS, meaning some people may find them effective but I always seem to contort myself trying to play that way so shied away from their use. The Adventure mode has its moments but, for the most part, is just ordinary with a lot of moving around to get to what you need to do with some minor puzzles along the way. I think the weirdo story beats and insights make it worth exploring, but it’s just there with the fighting obviously being the major emphasis.


Pinstripe [Atmos Games] - If you’re a fan of Burton-esque stylings and weird characters Pinstripe gladly offers those up over its runtime. It’s story is appropriately a bit on the dark side as well, and the characters you interact with along the way help provide the glue that helps make it all feel worthwhile. Paired with a smart mix of platforming and puzzle-solving it is a terrific bite that you could probably finish in a long afternoon or a few sittings.


Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure [Game Swing] - Overall, Stikbold is an engaging multiplayer game that has some wild action and distinguishes itself with a great idea in the form of the Wheel of Rumpus mode. While the Story Mode isn’t terribly long it is quite a lot of fun and it’s great that you have the option to either tackle it alone or with a friend. Results will vary depending on your group but if you like chaotic and raucous fun to get people laughing it sets the table for a good time.


Zarvot [Snowhydra LLC] - While mechanically this is a sort of shooter adventure in terms of gameplay it's the presentation and story of Zarvot that makes it entertaining. You'll play as a cube named Charcoal who, together with his friend Mustard, set out to get a great gift to cheer up their friend Red. Somewhat randomly on the way you'll face enemies you'll need to shoot it out with, some crazy weird boss battles, and all sorts of odd story beats. It's odd, charming, and for the most part gorgeous as well.


Never Stop Sneakin' [Humble Hearts] - As a person who has never liked or enjoyed pure stealth titles in the least Never Stop Sneakin gives me hope that there are more action-oriented takes on the genre that I can get behind. Though it doesn't change up the formula much over the course of the game the sometimes arcade-like qualities of the stealth action really sucked me in. You could choose to just survive the levels but it is when you begin plotting strategy to knock out guards and guns in quick succession to keep your multiplier up that the game shines the brightest. A weird sense of humor and part homage, part mocking of the original Metal Gear Solid and overblown action movie and game tropes are icing on the cake.


Vostok Inc [Nosebleed Interactive] - While Vostok Inc isn’t a terribly complicated game there’s an element to it that can get its hooks into you. I’d say in a way that’s very similar to something like Stardew Valley you can get into a pattern of habits that are somewhat relaxing. Blow up asteroids, upgrade planets, get in some fights, upgrade your ship, take out a boss, move onto the next galaxy and repeat. The addition of the game’s very strange sense of humor at times as you’ll interact with the representatives from each galaxy helps keep things light as well and many of the game’s seemingly infinite achievements are laced with comedic undertones as well. I started playing Vostok Inc expecting to have some silly fun, the fact that it turned out to have some depth and hidden surprises throughout was just icing on the cake.


Embr [Muse Games] - As people who’ve been following the site for quite some time should be well aware, if there’s an oddball game out there to play I’m generally down for it. With just the basic pitch in Embr being a sort of virtual firefighter game it would already grab peoples’ attention, but thankfully it goes the extra mile to make things more interesting. First, throw in some unexpected wackiness in the controls and equipment, then open it up for local multiplayer confusion and competition, then add in alternative escape or heist-like missions into the mix, and there’s a lot more to meat on the game’s bones than you may expect. That said, its off-center nature may be fun but it can also be frustrating, and it’s possible that the honeymoon period where the wackiness keeps things fun and exciting may not sustain itself for long. If you’re a fan of weirdness, learning tricks as you go, perhaps playing with some friends, and keeping things loose this can be a great time, but if you’re into more traditional experiences results are more likely to vary.


Mom Hid My Game 2 [hap Inc] - Taking the baton directly from the original quirky point-and-click puzzler released some time ago, Mom Hid My Game 2 definitely adopts a policy of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and that’s both a good and bad thing. With its budget price and unique sense of humor you can, no doubt, play through it and simply enjoy yourself for a little while but if you load up too much expectation on it you may well be disappointed as well. Each scenario has you moving through the same few rooms and trying to find your handheld gaming console while avoiding your ever-disapproving mother or some other type of threat. If you’re caught it’s no big deal, you’ll just start over and know what to avoid the next time. The puzzles aren’t terribly complex for the most part, the joy is really just in the suspense of wondering where Mom could be (she’s very tricky and can be found in unlikely places, ready to pounce and catch you) and in working through what goofy thing you may need to grab, stack, or move in order to find and be reunited with your beloved GameBoy. For a few bucks, if you’re game, it can make you laugh, just keep in mind it’s a very bare bones experience.


Stonefly [Flight School Studio] - Over my time playing games on the Switch I’ve become a sort of connoisseur of weird games, enjoying the unexpected journeys they tend to take you on. There’s no doubt Stonefly falls into this category with its story told in a scaled-down world of people piloting bug mechs in the trees in search of a living and perhaps fortunes as well. Where the game will likely either live or die for most people will be with its control mechanics, which there’s no getting around the fact that they’re unusual and initially quite umbersome. The good news is that if you give them a chance and a little time they do grow on you to the point that you’ll get a rhythm down with combat, which typically consists of stunning your enemies and then working to push them off the edge. Slowly maintaining and upgrading your mech you’ll become a bit more formidable and versatile, and the experience of navigating your way through the foliage is absolutely different and refreshing. If you’re willing to give it a chance and show some patience it’s a fresh and enjoyable experience, just be warned that it is by no means perfect.


Fight Crab [Calappa Games] - OK, so I definitely consider a title like this a love/hate proposition. Giant crustaceans of all types and sizes duking it out in a variety of environments from cities to dinner tables who can grab whatever is available to whack at each other until one combatant is flipped and loses? Since I love games that are a bit off-center it makes me giggle and dig in but I can understand how someone could reductively look at it as a game of wild flailing and button mashing. To some degree they wouldn’t be 100% incorrect. I found that technique can still be effective and win the day but spam can work well, but that’s also true of most fighting games out there to be fair. The thing is, underneath the chaos and admitted lack of nuance in the controls as a whole, there is a degree of technique in positioning and knowing when to engage and when to back off that does elevate the strategy component a bit. Unlocks for playing include all manner of hard-shelled sea critters as well as a barrage of increasingly-preposterous weapons you can wield. This absolutely won’t be a game for everyone but there can be a degree of joy in laying some smack down with some ridiculous weapon in one hand while trying to hold your opponent in place with the other. It’s weird and a bit crazy, but it’s also undeniably unique.


Mad Rat Dead [Nippon Ichi Software] - With an eShop full of titles it can pay to be different, but with the variety that’s out there even that has become a challenge. Enter Mad Rat Dead, a game with a bit of an attitude and an unusual mix of rhythm game and platformer that delivers on a unique feel. With a pretty unusual story you’ll find that your character, who has been killed in the course of some lab experiment, is on a mission. Brought back to life by the Rat God and given a chance to relive its final day, rather than revel in simple pleasures they're set upon revenge on the scientist instead. This helps propel the story, and makes for some humor, but the main attraction is the unusual action of the game. You'll have the normal sort of platforming moves available to you, the trick is that in order for them to work you'll need to try to do it all on the beat. When you get in the zone this works pretty well, and you can really feel like you're grooving away, but boy when you lose the beat or your core moves fail to chain well enough to put you in the right position it can be tricky to lock back in under duress. It's unusual and not always perfect in its execution but the mix of oddball humor in the story and distinctive action does help to differentiate it from the pack.


Metamorphosis [Ovid Works] - One thing indie titles have excelled at is providing gamers with very new, and sometimes very weird, experiences… perhaps perfectly epitomized with something like Metamorphosis. Taking a page from Kafka, while the adventure seems to start out normally enough you’ll find your character quickly transformed into a bug, with you then needing to see through your relatively short journey from a far different perspective. Having played quite a number of titles from a small scale I’ll say that much of the time I don’t find it works terribly well but in this case I was actually pretty impressed with the relative scale of everything seeming to be consistent, the action platforming puzzles being pretty well-integrated, and the general experience being appropriately surreal if a bit silly in some ways. If you’re a platforming fan and would like to play a game that shakes things up quite a bit it should be well worth checking out.


Ponpu [Purple Tree Studio] - While the Bomberman series is undoubtedly well-known for its terrific competitive multiplayer matches there’s no denying that its characters themselves are a bit lacking in personality and its single-player efforts to date have been inconsistent as a whole. Ponpu absolutely borrows liberally from that franchise when it comes to core concepts, with play generally revolving around blowing up walls and enemies with your bombs, but with its distinctive art style there’s no denying that it has a fat greater attempt at personality hands down. The solo campaign also happens to be pretty challenging and enjoyable in itself, making for a pretty pleasant surprise and helping it stand apart from the competition. The fun thankfully also carries over into the various multiplayer modes, with some being for teams and others being a free-for-all, but all working with the classic foundation but layering a smart element or two to help each distinguish themselves from one another. It’s a wonderful weirdo surprise, no doubt.


Speaking Simulator [Affable Games] - This is one of those titles that is likely to divide people firmly between the lovers and the haters, without a whole lot in between. As the game’s name implies the focus of the majority of the gameplay is in manipulating the mouth of your character, a robot, in order to get it to not just speak but also exhibit some other characteristics within your interactions that would make you seem human. The humor ensues as you go through a number of social situations where you’re trying your best to remain composed as you struggle to get your words out and eventually begin to show visible signs of wear and tear. The question will be whether the novelty of the experience can keep its grip on you as more elements slowly get added, making your undertaking increasingly challenging or hopeless depending on how you see it. It’s a tricky balancing act and it will likely vary from person to person where the needle moves, whether in the direction of frustrating or quirky and entertaining.


Undead & Beyond [Ominous Entertainment] - If there’s one thing I love about checking out indie games it’s the out-of-the-blue surprises, games I’ve never heard of that look unassuming but deliver far more than I’d ever expect. Though it’s hardly perfect that’s very much the case with Undead & Beyond, a budget title whose looks may be a bit on the clunky side, but whose style of play is just unique (and maybe a bit twisted) enough to make for a good time. You play the part of a mad scientist who has concocted a formula to essentially create zombies. Perhaps understandably the powers that be aren’t amused so they’re coming for you. Your goal? Escape each level you find yourself in by turning anyone you encounter, giving events a nudge when you can with some gear you’ll find, and generally trying to promote chaos and carnage to allow you to escape. It may not be terribly complex or varied as you go along, but I’ll admit that watching my zombie horde meander into a room and kill a unit of soldiers in a flurry of explosions and pixelated bloodshed at least would give me a giggle. Sometimes it just feels good to be evil.


Felix The Reaper [Kong Orange] - If there’s one thing that Felix the Reaper isn’t lacking in it’s quirky personality. The rotund but surprisingly agile main character shuffles and dances his way through every stage with an exuberant energy that’s admirable, but I suppose that’s the effect his being in love has on him. Humor is abundant here, and as you work your way through a variety of weird puzzle sequences in order to orchestrate the elaborate demise of your given target, the mix of dialogue, some elements, and Felix’s constant strutting it’s hard not to be charmed. Mechanically the puzzle elements are pretty smart, the goal is to remain in the shadows as you manipulate the angle of light and will need to divine the sequence of moves and interactions with objects to get you to your goal. Where it can struggle initially is that there are times when it’s unclear while you’re still learning what it wants you to do, and as you get further in underneath the presentation the actual puzzles can feel a bit generic. Still, if you like a good puzzle game and enjoy a good laugh or perhaps a quirky love story this will probably entertain you for a few hours.


This list will continue to grow and be pruned as time goes on, as well as numerous other lists that try to keep track of all of the best titles the Nintendo Switch has to offer in the Indie space!