Monday, June 4, 2018

Nintendo To Plays - Volume 2

Welcome back, #TeamHandheld. For this volume, I decided to tackle a lot of the older stuff that I had played on Switch over the past year before I forgot about it. Some of these were still clear in my mind, but others I jumped back into for a refresher. There are some new games in here as well, though most of them were not that great. Enough chatter; let's get to it.

Nintendo To Plays - Volume 2

Super Mario Odyssey

I still stand by my favoritism of 2D Mario games over 3D ones (yes, I consider Super Mario 3D World closer to a 2D game than an open world 3D one), but I was still able to get into and fall in love with Super Mario Odyssey. The variety of the stages, the use of Cappy, and the creative bosses made this a fantastic experience that I couldn't put down. Like many games, the biggest selling point for me is that it was easier for me to get time to play it thanks to handheld mode. I had no interest in trying to get 100% in Odyssey, there were plenty of times that I was happy to go a little out of my way to get an extra moon that I had been. I had a blast with this, and it is easily my favorite 3D open world Mario game (though I still need to try Galaxy 2). 

Riptide GP: Renegade

I bought into Riptide GP: Renegade thinking that it might fill the void left by a lack of a current Wave Race game. At first this one didn't quite hook me due to a lack of game mode and color, as everything is metal and gray. That said, on a second attempt I found a new appreciation for the game. While still lacking the beauty of Wave Race, Riptide is charming in its own right and actually plays very well. The game features a story progression that might not be necessary, but helps add a level of motivation to move forward. As someone who has a soft spot for these types of games, I'm glad I gave this another shot, because it is a pretty solid water racer in single player mode. I can't get enough of the splash effects.

Portal Knights

Second to Dragon Quest Builders, Portal Knights has come the closest to making me want to play a game about crafting. It offers structure and guidance better than most, and it does a decent job of making things straightforward and meaningful instead of just being a pure sandbox. That said, there are still some UI issues that make the controls feel awkward, but for the most part it works. Portal Knights still doesn't make it over the hump into something that I just couldn't put down, as I did eventually tire of the crafting focus, but that's about par for me. It did a great job trying, and I think it's one of the best of these crafting RPGs I've played so far. Looking for items and piecing things together just tires me, as it's too much like work and I get enough of that as is.

Kitten Squad

A free game sponsored by PETA seems like an odd thing to find on Switch, but I find some of the things the developer Arcade Distillery has made to be quite fun, so I thought I'd give the twin stick shooter Kitten Squad a shot for the dev's sake. If you ignore the PETA content, moving a kitten from room to room shooting up robots with different kinds of guns can be mindless fun, though it's not very deep. For free, it was hard to be upset by it, though I probably won't play a ton more.

Tiny Metal

At first glance Tiny Metal seems like it could be a fun little Advance Wars clone. In theory, it is just that, but unfortunately it is nowhere close to being as light-hearted and fun to play as Advance Wars. It is very story heavy and even when fast forwarding it takes a while to get to the actual meat of the game. Once you do, combat is straightforward turn-based strategy with units grouped together attacking and taking damage. The tactics are there, but it lacks the charm of the series for which it's faithfully trying to hold a candle. The few early missions are pretty basic and not very challenging, so that without the quirkiness just leaves things feeling shallow. I wanted to really like this, but it just didn't click.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers

Having been a fan of Street Fighter II way back in the SNES and arcade days, I was slightly nostalgic for Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers. Not that I'm a huge fighting game fan these days, but as this is a re-release of a title that I spent a good deal of time with as a child and one of the few multiplayer games that I played against friends I really wanted to give it a shot. Sadly, that time has passed it seems. This classically faithful game is solid enough, but I fear that I don't have the same interest any longer. Without anyone local that I actually know to play against, the online play held little for me, and though I did get through a few story modes, it wasn't that interesting. This release seems a little bit shallow, but I enjoyed it well enough for a bit of nostalgia.

The Jackbox Party Pack

The sole reason that I wanted The Jackbox Party Pack is for You Don't Know Jack. It seems like the absolute perfect party game for the Switch and it almost is. My wife and I used to play the original on PC back in the 90s when we were dating, so it holds a special place in my heart. Ideally, I had hoped to start a two person game with her just by sitting the Switch on the table and each of us using a joy-con to have a quick session. Sadly, The Jackbox Party Pack doesn't support that, as you have to use your phone to for any multiplayer. This seems like a major oversight that made things more complicated than they need to be. It would have been perfect, but it doesn't seem like something getting added. Oh well, such wasted potential.

Earth Wars

I picked up Earth Wars when I saw it was just $4.50 on the eShop. While it gives the impression of being a 2D beat-em-up RPG it really is mostly just a grindy action game. The levels and armor are mostly a facade for a pretty dull and repetitive experience. Dungeons are bland, enemies are basic, and combat is pretty one note. I got bored pretty quickly.

This Is the Police

My time with This Is the Police has only confirmed that I should never be put in charge of a police department, because I'll get everyone killed or they will all quit on me. Whether you are assigning cases or piecing together clues to solve a big crime, there's lots of micro management to balance. That's not really my thing, so I tended to rush things along and sloppily ruined everything during the process. If you have ever wanted to be in a police simulation, this one is very solid. This is totally a case of "it's me, not you" as there game isn't bad at all.


Open-ended adventure games like Rime have never really been something I've gotten into very easily. I'm fine with open world exploration or structured adventure games, but if you give me a world and say "figure out what to do" it just turns me off. On top of its lack of direction, Rime is also one of the roughest looking games I've seen running in handheld mode on Switch. It's super blurry and rough to look at. I'm sure with childlike patience or a guide I could have made better progress here, but I know when I'm out of my element and Rime is out.

Punch Club

Punch Club is a boxing sim where you have to manage your boxer's hunger, rest, and more in order to train to improve him. You have to get a job to make money to afford food, training, and all that. Combat is automated and totally dependent on the stats and skills that you have unlocked. If you fail, your stats will go down. There's an easy mode that does away with stat degradation, so that makes it easier, but overall it's a pretty grindy game.

Wheels of Aurelia

Wheels of Aurelia is basically a visual novel told through driving to France with a Leila and her friend Olga. The two engage in different conversations about some heavy life topics and encounter lots of NPCs along the way. You make dialog choices, but ultimately nothing interesting really happens throughout. Adding driving to the mix doesn't help anything, because it doesn't control well and adds nothing meaningful to the game. The entire package is just super bland.

Snake Pass

While it seems creative in concept, Snake Pass is a chore to control in practice. Twisting and coiling up as a snake is tedious, and as the basis of this game that makes it hard to enjoy. I really wish I had more to say here, but I got tired of this so quickly that I couldn't put it down fast enough.


The Final Station

The Final Station is rough. It's a survival game where you have to scavenge for resources and fight off enemies that try to stop you. It's brutal and unforgiving and totally not for me. After battling through empty houses and stations for supplies only to be killed over and over, I bailed out and didn't look back. No thanks.

That's it for this time. There wasn't a lot of great content here, but none of them were really awful games even if I didn't like them. As I work my way through old and new titles, we shall see how things have held up, but there is no end of content coming for this system. Long live #TeamHandheld.

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