Mini Reviews: February 10th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Kunai [Nindie Choice!] - Kunai was a title that left me excited but a bit uncertain from its PAX demo last year. I loved the look, and the ability to use your kunai on each side essentially as grappling hooks to aid in traversal and even combat seemed ripe with potential, but it was hard to see whether or not it would all come together in a way that would help it break through to being something special. I’m happy to report that having played through the final product there’s nothing I can think of that feels missed. The gameplay is challenging but fair, its traversal elements are well-designed and feel great, and its mix of smart design and fun combat help it to push its way to standing among the best Metroidvanias the system has to offer. Admittedly, there were times where the combination of backtracking and not being 100% sure where to go next could be aggravating. Though, in general, the game’s map tries to help there were situations where it didn’t have quite enough detail to lead the way. Small quibbles like that aside, Kunai absolutely delivers the goods and with its unique grapple mechanics stands tall even in the somewhat crowded Switch Metroidvania space as one of the best on the system.


It Came From Space and Ate Our Brains - At the very beginning I’ll admit my excitement was pretty high for this twin-stick shooter. The unique look, the game’s use of darkness, and the base feel were all working for me. The more I played, though, the more I became a bit underwhelmed with it all. Though there are some different zones that have varying layouts, they’re consistently populated with the same pretty generic mobs to deal with. Though there is some variety in the weapons, and each one can be upgraded with a little investment, there wasn’t anything that stood out as being terribly unique or exciting to use. Usually when you’re excited about something your feeling is you want more of it, but in this case I’d change the statement to me feeling like I want more _from_ it. There’s a solid base here, there just isn’t enough compelling flesh on its bones to make it stand out when there are simply so many terrific shooters to be played on Switch.


Reknum - Clearly looking to tap into people’s retro platforming affections, Reknum at least switches things up with a female protagonist. With relatively chunky character sprites you’ll guide your character, armed with both a bow and a sword through 6 pretty distinctive and reasonably large areas, dispatching enemies as you go. With a relatively low-budget price perhaps the expectations for it should be kept on the lower side, but the controls being a bit on the loose side and some of the overall feel being a bit wonky pretty quickly put a hit on my overall enthusiasm for the adventure. If you’re open to the challenge and can overlook some warts it’s not a bad package, just even within the same price range I would say there are multiple retro titles in this vein that are more worthwhile.


Super Tennis - With the lack of sports titles on the Switch you may have seen this game’s name and felt your pulse race a little bit. Even thinking back to the NES days of Tennis there can be fun in even simplistic representations of the action. Unfortunately, in the case of Super Tennis there isn’t any action to speak of, at least none in the way you’d assume. Rather that control your player, moving around the court and setting up your shots, in Super Tennis you’ll participate in what feels like a series of Quicktime events… except they’re ones that are even less thrilling. You will need to get attuned to all of the buttons on your controller though as you’ll have a pretty brief amount of time once your opponent sends the ball your way to press a random series of buttons… and that’s it. You will slowly gain new unlocked character elements to make your tennis pro look different or sillier, but there’s really nothing else going on here.


Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator - Wow, OK, this is one of those titles where, being honest, it pained me to try to play it. While I’ve come to have pretty low expectations for games of this type (I don’t typically see why they’d be interesting or fun since they’re very repetitive) the muddled way you need to use your controls in this particular one sets it apart with its being miserable to play. Considering I got stuck in just the tutorial, repeatedly reading the instructions on the screen and then failing to understand what it was I needed to do, it didn’t get off to a great start. Even once getting past that taking in bikes and moving around to different parts to improve or replace them is a cumbersome experience at best, but then the rewards for success are so uninspiring I can’t see any compelling incentive to suffer through the experience.

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