Mini Reviews: January 24th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath - The Oddworld series has finally managed to come to Switch! Well, sort of, since this FPS-like offshoot from the main series is quite a different animal. The first thing to note is that with this being a remaster of an older game there are definitely elements of it that feel aged in terms of gameplay and mechanics. The experience can be a bit rough around the edges, and even at the time it was released I would imagine it got some criticism. That said, the quirky aspect of your creature-based weaponry, the strategic nature of how you approach your missions, and the aspect of the unexpected the alien Oddworld brings to the table help it feel fresh and different to the point that some of the issues can be overlooked. If you’re looking for hard-hitting action you’ll be disappointed but if you’re open to something a bit different this can be fun.

Sega Ages: Shinobi - The arcade ninja classic is back! Shinobi is a title I spent a fair amount of time playing at the arcades back in the day and, in general, it’s just as tough as I remembered it. That first boss where you need to be on top of throwing your shuriken below the peak of your jump is a classic who tended to quickly knock out less experienced players and it was fun to meet up with him and some of the other weirdo characters like the spider dudes as well. Now, what you get is pretty well purely the original game, though you can choose an alternative mode that gives you a little better start powered up and you have the option to be able to rewind as well. I’m not sure if people who don’t have nostalgia for this classic will get as much enjoyment out of it as veterans but for fans of the game this is an easy win.

Witch & Hero 2 - Though it may look pretty simplistic, and is in terms of mechanics, there’s something deceptive about the light action in Witch & Hero 2. The basics are that you’re in command of a knight who by bumping into enemies can chip away at their health and kill them, though he’ll be more effective if he’s able to attack from behind. Since he loses health in these bump battles you’ll also need to control a witch who’s a bit slower and who is able to revive him when he falls. When she gets enough blood from fallen enemies, which she collects from the hero, she’s then able to cast pretty powerful spells. The trickiest part, unless you’re able to play co-op with a friend, is trying to control them both at once, especially as the screen begins to fill up and get hectic. It’s surprisingly fun and challenging even with its simple and somewhat grindy nature. If you’re looking for a change of pace on a budget it’s not a bad choice.

Lumini - Lumini is one of those titles that’s a bit like a roller coaster ride to play. One moment you’re in the zone, pulled into its serenity, calming music, and colorful environments… but the next you’re aggravated by the somewhat loosey goosey nature of the controls and persistent issues with performance and slowdown it hits. Nothing is really explained here, and in general you don’t really need much guidance, but the gist of it is you’ll manage a growing flock of creatures of different colors through a series of caverns and passageways trying to collect crystals of some kind that will aid you in growing your brood and trying to either avoid or eliminate enemies you’ll run into along the way. In general, it’s a pretty serene experience, with most of its emphasis on exploration and mild puzzle solving. You do run into enemies, and some you’ll need to deal with, but there are also times where avoidance is an option and may be the better course since there’s not really anything to gain by taking things out unless they’re an immediate threat. If it weren’t for the frequency of the performance problems it would be easier to recommend as an almost meditative and calming experience but as it is currently that makes it tougher to enjoy.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf - On paper I think the idea behind the mechanics for Space Wolf could be interesting. It takes on part tactical strategy combat ala X-Com and combines it with card-based deck-building to dictate your movement and attack options. I don’t think it’s impossible for this combination to work effectively but in terms of the implementation here I’m just not feeling it. Combat ends up feeling a bit clunky, though part of this perception may be how you’re just sort of dropped into things without much explanation. Even early on having enemies spawn in odd and inconvenient places, but pretty much all being one-dimensional grunts who are cannon fodder just there to wear you down, also left something to be desired. While I love X-Com and have found deck builders that have been very engaging the way they’ve been bolted together in this case for me feels like they’ve moved backwards in some way, not enhancing either side but somehow being brought down by the combining of the two. I don’t doubt that there may be some Warhammer or hardcore strategy fans who may find it works for them but this just didn’t work for me.

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