Friday, May 13

Mini Reviews: May 13th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe [Crows Crows Crows] (Nindie Choice!) - Among the indie games I’ve greatly enjoyed on PC over the years and have wondered when they would make their way to Switch, The Stanley Parable was one of my last holdouts, so I’m thrilled it is finally here. Not only that, even for people who’ve enjoyed its very unique experience, this Ultra Deluxe Edition has thrown in some further value adds to discover as you reacquaint yourself with its unusual style. The challenge to reviewing the game, and even in showing too much gameplay video for it, is that the best way to experience it is to know as little as possible aside from the fact that its approach is both familiar and unconventional, and if you’re someone like me who takes great joy in defying the obvious flow in games, determined to either find secrets or even break the game if it comes to that, it’s an experience that absolutely has you in mind and will reward you handsomely for those inclinations. If you’re still on the fence I’d say scan the general scores for the game elsewhere, being careful not to read too much, and see that it has many fans and I assure you they’re all well-earned. If you do take the plunge, get ready to laugh, subvert, experiment, and then subvert some more for good measure. This is a unique title that should be on the list of anyone who knows and loves games.

Citizen Sleeper [Jump Over The Age] (Nindie Choice!) - As regulars probably know well by now, I don’t tend to be a fan of visual novels and even sometimes struggle with titles that are too heavily text-driven, but when they’re done right it’s almost impossible not to take notice. Spinning a very future-forward sci-fi tale of fighting for survival in a remote space station, Citizen Sleeper absolutely won’t be for anyone looking for action or who despises games where the majority of the experience is simply focused on reading. The critical difference here is that the story is an original one, full of details and a variety of characters that really come alive as you read on. What then takes things to the next level is the challenge you’ll face in choosing how to make the most of what are usually tough circumstances to string yourself alive and make progress. This won’t be something you’ll master quickly, and at first each roll of the virtual dice you’ll need to make use of to complete critical tasks can feel like they’re working against you. However, as you begin to wrap your arms around how best to make use of the time and opportunities you have and begin to talk to the right people, new avenues ripe with potential will continue to reveal themselves… leaving you the challenging choice of how you wish to proceed. With its very old-school text-based adventure feel, this is a game that really managed to speak to me, and if you’re down to get wrapped up in an often challenging sci-fi world it shouldn’t disappoint.

Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising [Rabbit & Bear Studios] - One of the things that can make it hard to fairly score and evaluate indie games is trying to figure out who they were made for and to be sure to keep that in mind. Rising feels like a title where that’s an important consideration because while it has the look of a pretty traditional 16-bit JRPG I don’t think that’s the crowd it’s meant for either necessarily. Playing out more like a classic side-scrolling adventure, the combat here is action-focused and as you move along and start to use your party’s link combos to score devastating damage it can get more involved as well. It’s one of those tricky sorts of combat, too, where it can feel really easy… until it isn’t, so you’ve been warned. When looking at the story, the cavalcade of characters, and your consistent log of quests to complete to help build up your town from ruin the RPG roots do come through, but in general it stays simpler and more surface level. Consistent with the fact that this title is a prelude to the future Eiuyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes it ultimately just feels like the beginning of something, and while it may enrich the experience once you get to that title it does leave this one feeling a bit lacking. This may make it a tougher call for more traditional RPG fans looking for greater depth, but for the price if you’re just looking for an attractive adventure that has a bit more structure than the norm it still isn’t a bad deal.

Nirvana [RedDeerGames] - At times there are games that I load up in my Switch that I can’t really understand, either that I’m not sure what the developer’s goal was, or who it’s really being made for, among other things. When it comes to Nirvana Pilot Yume you can put me down for roughly all the above. There’s a weirdo sci-fi visual novel aspect to it, though more often than not the lack of almost any nuance or depth in the game’s characters make that a tough leg to stand on. Then there’s the somewhat retro racing aspect, which perhaps could have made it all worthwhile, but the controls aren’t just limited for it, they’re almost a complete mess. With brakes that seem to take an eternity to have any effect and steering that would best be described as poor, the result is a feeling that completing any given course has been more of an exercise in memorizing the course and having the stubborn willingness to keep slogging on more than skill. The result is a hot mess, and though perhaps having some of the female characters flaunting themselves in skimpy outfits and posing may garner interest for some I’d even say that’s a miss. It’s creepy enough to likely put off most but also then doesn’t likely go far enough to satisfy the people who may crave that sort of thing. Even at a low-budget price I’d still consider it a pass.

Marble Maid [Shady Corner Games] - As a long-time fan of the Super Monkey Ball series, which I haven’t had a decent fix with for a little while, Marble Maid is a title that looked right up my alley. In many ways similar to the well-known series, you’ll take control of your tarted up (we’ll get to that) little anime maid trying to work your way around some challenging courses, being sure to vanquish any dust bunnies that you encounter. In principle the gameplay does work, but even a short time spent with the title shows the substantial gaps in smart level design and polish between this and the series that inspired it. Swinging a bit wildly between too basic and weirdly challenging it’s not always the courses themselves that kill you but the clock. From stage to stage the swing in difficulty to get everything collected and to your goal feels inconsistent at best, and there are some where it feels quite unfair as there are multiple reasons you could get held up along the way. This changes the feel from generally light and breezy fun to a variety of frustrations, and it veers pretty wildly away from the path you may be anticipating in that regard. Then there’s the unlockable content… which I suppose you could choose to ignore, but just feels gross honestly. As it is the main character is pretty needlessly sexed up but the art goes so much further and really ends feeling like compensation for deficient gameplay.

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