Thursday, May 5

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

Eastward [Pixpil] (Nindie Choice!) - When it comes to pixel art action-adventures the normal standard that is compared against would be The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. What’s typically more impressive is when games forgo the comparison, simply delivering a fantastic experience with their own sense of style. That’s what Eastward has really done, somehow feeling familiar with its smart two-person puzzle designs, evolving character capabilities, and consistent surprises as you make your way along your journey. If you’re interest is mostly in keeping things moving and full of compelling combat you’ll likely be a bit disappointed, as there’s a very slow and deliberate pace to the game, but if you keep moving along your patience will be rewarded with consistent quality in the form of engaging puzzles and what’s often a touching story. While I’ve played a fair number of well-made action adventures that have helped several hours pass with solid play, Eastward really stands out above the bulk of that crowd as something with more ambition, polish, and an essence all its own that makes it something special in the eShop.


Arise: A Simple Story [Piccolo] (Nindie Choice!) - While my fondest memories of great Switch titles tend to focus on games that are more on the more gameplay-focused side there’s something to be said for the ones that instead leave a contemplative mark. What’s terrific are those titles that manage to do a little bit of both, keeping you engaged with smart and well-executed gameplay while pulling at your heart and Arise most certainly accomplishes that. Mixing smart and typically quite creative puzzle platforming that often rewards you for straying from the obvious path to find hidden memories with a touching implied story, the blend between the two manages to effectively ping pong back and forth at a satisfying pace that keeps you sucked in and consistently deciding to give it just a few more minutes. While some could argue it doesn’t linger quite as long as they’d like I’d say it’s still a very satisfying and well-executed bite of excellence that knows how to tell its story effectively without overstaying its welcome.


Get Packed: Couch Chaos [Moonshine Studios] - The Switch certainly has its share of local co-op games to sort through if you like playing with your family and friends and, truth be told, in many ways my family and I have found getting new ones to be exhausting more often than not since so many of them fall into common and predictable patterns that struggle to satisfy. While Get Packed may share some DNA with the excellent Moving Out, what surprised us was how well it managed to deviate from that same course by inserting far more silliness into the mix, ultimately making for what was often a more chaotic and laugh-filled time. Sure, you could try to focus on getting out all of the traditional furniture in a careful and responsible way… but why not just go full-speed, forgetting about the damage, simply hoping that quantity over quality works out in the end. But it’s really some of the bonus objectives like trying to load a car for moving, which takes some real work, but also immediately had everyone in my family committed to the task, cheering when we somehow managed to get just enough of the front-end into the truck for it to count. It’s really those moments, as well as one that cropped up in the multiple oddball mini games, that made this relatively modest investment multiplayer game a winner, even if it also left us wishing there was more content to enjoy.


Wildcat Gun Machine [Chunkybox Games] - As a massive fan of twin-stick shooters in their many forms on the Switch, or anywhere else, any new entrant into the arena is always met with some excitement. With a certain sense of visual flair, Wildcat Gun Machine definitely has some appeal when you look at its art or even at gameplay in screen shots. In action? Well, maybe not as much. Granted, perhaps my bar for intensity and excitement in the genre is a bit on the high side but honestly there are so many solid ones out there on the eShop I’ve sort of come to take that for granted. Wildcat Gun Machine simply operates on its own gear, at its own pace, and for me that left me antsy as I was playing it for more. Yes, even with the slower pacing it can get to be challenging, especially since you’ll get to the point where you’re needing to evade shots from a number of directions at once, but while that may suit people who aren’t as accomplished in the genre I would imagine most die hards will find it on the dull side. Throw in the fact that at times the isometric 3D view can work against it, with characters or action being obscured in certain spots, and there’s a certain lack of spit polish even to what’s otherwise a stylish presentation. If you’re newer to shooters or normally find them a bit overwhelming this may be worth a look though.


Ravenous Devils [Bad Vices Games] - As a fan of morbid humor and the movie Sweeney Todd, the devilish and somewhat brutal Ravenous Devils has some appeal to me. While you may have seen or played time management sims before, I assure you nothing has quite had this sort of flavor to it, at least in the theming. You’ll control a fiendish couple who has set up shop in a new city, managing a pair of businesses, a small eatery on the ground floor and a tailor above. Given the scarcity and cost of resources this industrious pair has found that the best path to financial success simply requires a little murder. With the husband making kills, and then salvaging their clothes to repair and resell, throwing the body down to his wife in the basement to grind up and prepare to serve, they’ve got quite the system going… but it appears that someone is on to them, which makes for a bit of a suspenseful story thread to try to prop up interest. The one issue is that while you will have opportunities to refine, expand, and make your endeavors more efficient there’s not much you can do to avoid what gets to be a bit of a grind flipping between each person, kicking off a task, and then going back to the other to try to maximize every moment you can. If you don’t mind the repetition the theme and story will help reward your efforts, but otherwise your interest may be short-lived.


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