Thursday, February 17

Mini Reviews: February 17th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Welcome to Elk [Triple Topping Games] (Nindie Choice!) - One of the subgenres of games that has been extremely well-represented on the Switch has been story-driven games, and these have come in all sorts of forms and share their narratives in a variety of ways. Taking a much more straight-forward approach than most, feeling a bit like an adventure game but mixing in things like mini games as well, Welcome to Elk revels in its town full of quirky characters who all seem to bring something to the table to enjoy. The fact that many of the stories relayed are based in some degree of truth not only helps add to the game’s fascination factor but generally makes everything feel more grounded in a refreshing way than the norm. Rather than having everything play out in some sort of contrived fantasy world or situation that drives the overall experience this has much more of a “stop and smell the roses” as you simply take things in and enjoy the varied ride.

Arcade Action Wrestling [VICO Game Studio] - While I’ve never been too much of a fan of wrestling itself as a sport, I’ll admit that at times I’ve dabbled in them in game form. Not so much recently, but particularly in my younger days they were a blast to play with friends as they inspired plenty of trash talking and yelling as you’d knock each other around. I think that’s what AAW has targeted and absolutely manages to capture, throwing you a load of technique, the inclusion of some chaotic match styles, a roster of wrestlers with personality, and loads of classic and signature moves that help propel the fun. Sure, this lacks the polish and prestige of being associated with a top-dollar licensed title, but with its very humble price tag it has managed to extract the elements that are most important, namely the fun and multitude of moves. Given the real lack of competition on the system fans of the sport would likely settle for far less than this delivers, the fact that it checks a load of boxes and shows some promise for being supplemented by community content as well helps cement it as well worth a look for anyone looking for some raucous sports fun.

Grapple Dog [Joseph Gribbin] - With a colorful and cute look, some pretty solid level design, and a generally approachable level of challenge, Grapple Dog has quite a bit going for it. Its critical stumble, though if you’re patient with it you’ll likely be able to overcome it, is that mechanically there’s a lack of fluidity to the controls and movement when comparing it to more refined platformers out there. Using your grapple to grab gemstones or enemies is effective and a key to slinging yourself to higher areas or across gaps, but there’s just a bit of slowness and lack of responsiveness in the controls when you’re doing so that could use some work. Sadly, I’d say that’s my only real complaint as otherwise the game works out to be quite impressive overall for its pretty reasonable price… I think enjoyment will just rest on whether you choose to adapt and make the most of it despite some frustrations.

About an Elf [Meringue Interactive] - Even as someone who could be considered a true connoisseur of weird games on the Switch I’ll admit I wasn’t prepared for About an Elf. Truly, I’m not even sure how to really describe it or its story other than it is pretty bonkers, focused on an elven woman who’ll apparently spin strange yarns for gummy bears. Taking on the forces of evil with her mount, a white cat, and a small array of what look like marbles but that have elemental powers you’ll work to defeat strange “monsters” and keep the oddball roller coaster story going. To its credit, it is absolutely a one-of-a-kind experience, and if you check out the video and find yourself laughing or sucked in it may well be worth taking the plunge. For everyone else, yeah, you’ll just likely want to walk away slowly…

Cellular Harvest [aPriori Digital] - Budget titles that veer off into less comfortably known subgenres tend to be a risk, ones that are even up-front about being decidedly “lo-fi” in their look even moreso. With a focus on exploring alien landscapes in search of unique creatures and trying to get pictures of them, the first-person play in Cellular Harvest is pretty simple and certainly low-stress on a general level, save for some frustrations with clipping or working your 3D platforming skills with its somewhat lackluster controls. The real challenge here is that there are other takes on this general format (even with the low-poly look) already out there on the eShop and on pretty well on all fronts the likes of a title like Morphite really stand out as being more refined in terms of both the visuals and general play. I suppose the laid back nature of taking your time to poke around could be refreshing for the right crowd, but the lack of overall ambition and polish makes it tough to recommend.

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