Mini Reviews: January 30th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Skellboy [Nindie Choice] - When it comes to action adventure titles it is no doubt a challenge to do something that somehow feels fresh and new. With an ability to switch out your body parts to take on new abilities, sometimes paired with some humorous circumstances, Skellboy at a minimum manages to have elements that are all its own. Granted, the exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat tend more towards the traditional, but since these areas are all handled well that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the pre-release version of the game has some stutters and pauses on area transitions a forthcoming patch has that issue in its sights so hopefully they’ll soon be a non-issue, though thankfully even when I ran into the issue it never managed to interfere with the action. Overall, while Skellboy may skew more towards a family-friendly degree of challenge than some may be looking for it’s a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. I wish the body part changing dynamics had been explored a bit more thoroughly, making for some tougher or more creative choices of combinations to shake things up a bit further, but regardless this is an easy title to recommend to anyone looking for a fun adventure just about anyone can enjoy.

Heroland - Full of quirky and unusual characters, and built on a somewhat unusual premise of there being a hero amusement park of sorts where people go to get their dungeon crawl on, Heroland is most definitely different. You’ll play the part of a “tour guide” of sorts, managing a party of varying tourists and general oddballs through a progression of increasingly-challenging dungeons. While the combat plays out as a traditional turn-based RPG your ability to command your group is limited on a cooldown so you’ll need to take action strategically to influence tactics or use an item but otherwise watch and hope your group can pull it together. Between battles you’ll work through an often silly story, work to cultivate friendships with your party in order to improve performance, and experiment with ways to improve your group effectiveness. While, for me, the action takes a bit too much of a backseat to dialogue early on I appreciate the fact that this has a very different feel from your typical JRPG and is worthwhile as an option because of that.

Coffee Talk - As the games industry continues to grow and evolve it opens the door to some very different modes of play, including those one the more casual end of the spectrum. Coffee Talk, first and foremost, is about the people (well, all manner of mythical beings in this case) you’ll meet and their stories as you manage your small open-all-night coffee joint. The more active aspect of the game is where you’ll need to size up new customers and try to find their perfect drink from a growing line-up of caffeinated goodness. This is even complete with some opportunities to hone your foamy art skills, and can be a fun diversion if you’re so inclined. The rest of the experience involves some limited interaction but generally taking in some interesting and very diverse characters, all of whom have their own problems and challenges you may not be able to remedy but at least give some passive advice about. All in all it’s a very chill and interesting experience, just be sure you’re aware of its nature before giving it a try if you prefer more excitement.

HYPERCHARGE Unboxed - With its Small Soldiers vibe, setting a mix of tower defense-esque strategy and shooting at a toy-like scale, Unboxed seemed full of potential. The ability to play with others locally or online (though, as always I’ll point out online support in titles like this tends to not have much staying power, unfortunately) help to sweeten the pot as well, following the philosophy of the more the merrier. That makes this a somewhat surprising overall miss for me, as the action just tends to be too slow, the upgrades that try to spice things up too spaced out, and the balancing in multiplayer too poorly accounted for. Running around in the set-up phase you’ll want to search for currency in its various forms and put up some defenses in pre-defined locations. Once the action begins there’ll be a slow onslaught of enemies to contend with who’ll get tripped up by your planning to a degree but that you’ll need to tend to, gunning them down and perhaps repairing things that are damaged if you get the chance. There are some variations on the theme but in the end at the core this feels like a slow-moving shooter with a strategic element that adds flavor but was also never enough to get my blood pumping. There’ll be an audience for this, just be sure it will suit your style and preferred pace of play.

Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry - Considering the era we live in Leisure Suit Larry still being around at all is a bit of a surprise. Having played the original games one major benefit this incarnation has is that it isn’t even partially text-based so guessing what nouns and verbs you need to use to prompt action is long gone. Also, thankfully, the more cringy frat-boy tone of more recent titles has been dropped, with Larry returning (as if through a time warp) to his vintage awkward aged virgin self. What didn’t work so well for me was the emphasis on bad social media humor, there’s not just a smidgen of it instead it’s almost constant. Granted, in the #metoo era perhaps a proper Leisure Suit Larry outing wouldn’t work, but if that’s the case don’t use the franchise at all. This likely only serve to disappoint people actually familiar with the series and looking to reminisce with its awkward PG-13 sexual humor and at the same time just prompt eye rolling from people less familiar groaning at far too pained jokes about apps that fail to be terribly funny.

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