Thursday, June 14, 2018

Nintendo To Plays - Volume 3

Greetings, #TeamHandheld. Today I have twelve Switch games to talk about. There's one great game, a few that need some tweaks, and a few duds. All in all, this was a fun batch to play, even if they were not all great. I enjoy these kinds of sessions, as it's nice to sample a variety of different titles. Let's get to this.

Nintendo To Plays - Volume 3

West of Loathing

As soon as I saw the Switch release trailer for West of Loathing, I knew that this was going to be my thing, and I was so glad to be right. This game is breezy, loaded with content, and at the same time paced so well that you don't even realize how much you've been doing that wasn't even necessary. The side content is great, and it's just like playing Fallout, but with stick figures who have 100 times the personalities. I could not put this down once I started and am super glad that I got a chance to play this. It's an amazing RPG and an experience I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys fun. There were plenty of honest laugh out loud moments throughout and that's rare in games for me.



Never Stop Sneakin'

Never Stop Sneakin' was almost great. I really enjoy the core concept of sneaking around stages, attacking enemies from behind, and collecting items while staying hidden. In fact, it's one of the only stealth games that I've really enjoyed. The boss fights are fun and in general everything about the general gameplay is right up my alley. The problem is that the game apparently isn't comfortable letting you just do that and be done, because if you die you have to start from the very beginning and redo everything. The stages are not exciting enough to warrant doing that, so for whatever reason the designer wanted you to have to repeat these areas. That doesn't work for me. Had the game just had a linear progression instead of repeating these, I'd have blasted through it and loved it, but I'm just not sure what the point is as it stands. This is such wasted potential, especially for something I was enjoying so much.



Golf Story

An RPG based around golf is such a novel idea. Golf Story has a lot of personality and is super charming. It also helps that the golfing side of things is fun and responsive as well since you'll be playing a lot of golf. There are tons of side quests and secondary things you can get lost doing, but the story will drive you to complete certain tasks that teach you how to play the game without looking like a tutorial. It's quite brilliant, and if you enjoy playing a golf game, the RPG wrappings will just make it better. While I haven't been hooked on it, it's been fun to play in bursts like a sports game instead of an RPG. Tackling a few tasks here and there feels good, as there is a lot to get through to complete the game, so finding a good pace is ideal.



Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

XCOM meets Mario and Rabbids sounds like the craziest idea ever and it might just be. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle doesn't shy away from its goofiness and is better for it, even if you hate the Rabbids. I tolerate them well enough that they don't bother me, but I can't seem to get into the strategy side of things well. I'm a fan of TRPGs, but I can be picky about them and this has yet to spark anything in me that makes this stand out in the gameplay area. Maybe it's a little too XCOM and not enough TRPG for me. I'll return to this with a fresher mind sometime and see if that helps.



Joe Dever's Lone Wolf

The idea behind Joe Dever's Lone Wolf seemed perfect for me. It's a mix of choose your own adventure gameplay and RPG combat all in one. It just doesn't work for me in practice, because I had some issues with the UI being annoying to deal with. Combat ended up taking too long, managing inventory got old quick, and working through areas ended up being more difficult than it should be thanks to the UI. I just want to make choices and fight things, but other things kept getting in the way of that. This game really seems like something I should love, but my first impression killed a lot of my good will.



Moon Hunters

Billed as a co-op RPG personality test, Moon Hunters makes a bold claim. The personality test choices never really did much, and I finished the game without thinking much about it, but the gameplay loop of smashing enemies was solid enough to keep me going despite not having anyone else to play with in-game. It was a solid first effort for a game, but needed a little more content to really be something memorable.



I Am Setsuna

Having bought I Am Setsuna on PS4 after Square Enix opted to leave the Vita version a non-localized mess, I just couldn't get into it. I figured maybe getting it on Switch would help since I would at least be able to play it on the go. Sadly, it doesn't matter what you play this game on, it's an attempt at nostalgia gone totally wrong. Too often RPGs try to stir up the name of Chrono Trigger to spark old memories of days long gone and I Am Setsuna from Tokyo RPG Factory does that without shame, but it has nothing of substance outside of a lovely piano-focused soundtrack to back it up. The game is slow, combat is plodding, and the characters and story are all reused ideas. The only real tie to Chrono Trigger the game even tries to bring is the three character combat with cross character combo attacks. It's all pretty dull and shameless in most aspects. Longing for something from the past tends to lead only to disappointment in gaming these days, so Tokyo RPG Factory needs to get its act together if it expects to be a force for good.



Thimbleweed Park

I can remember playing Maniac Mansion on NES back in the day, but I mostly just stumbled around and never made much progress. I've also dug into the remaster of Day of the Tentacle on Vita more recently, and I found that neither really were for me. I guess I'm just not a curious enough of person to get the appeal. So with Thimbleweed Park, it was going to be an uphill battle to get me on board. Starting off, the biggest hurdle for me is too many options. I'm not ashamed to admit that the ability and necessity to swap between multiple characters to solve puzzles sometimes overwhelms me, because I have a desire to try everything possible with every single character which takes forever and usually accomplishes nothing. A game like Broken Age actually worked well for me by limiting that to two characters, and I much enjoyed it for doing so. I imagine much of Thimbleweed Park's appeal is the multitude character angle and I respect that, but it meant that I was burning out quickly and didn't get far as a result. The production vales seem great and I can tell this is special, but I didn't make much of a dent for now. Maybe down the road I can try again with a clearer head space.



Pankapu

Pankapu is a pretty looking platformer, but it doesn't really do anything special. I was able to explore around, jump over spikes, fight enemies, and all the usual things, but it didn't do anything to stand out or even excel in these areas. Despite looking good, it got dry quickly so I moved on.



Spelunker Party!

Spelunker Party! is a game where you get to move through a cave collecting items and awkwardly jump over minor obstacles. You find keys to allow you to progress and continue to do the same thing over and over. As I said, the jumping is slow and even tiny pits require you to be precise. It's not that great. What's more is that this game is built around a multiplayer concept of being able to team up with others online, but that's all but dead. I'm not really sure what the focus was long-term here, but it didn't hold up and you're not missing anything by skipping it.



Phantom Trigger

There's just something about Phantom Trigger that never clicked with me. It seemed like the combat was going to be deeper, but in reality I simply kept wandering around a colorful neon dungeon randomly killing enemies for no reason. The structure seemed to random and chaotic for me, as I was rarely able to tell if or how I was making progress. It was all a bit too much, though it sure looked lovely while going through it.



NBA Playgrounds

I picked up NBA Playgrounds at launch before the long wait for online play began, but it honestly didn't matter too much. While hoping for a fun throwback to NBA Jam, but what I got was a watered-down version instead complete with card packs used to unlock new players. Ugh. I've never been a fan of loot boxes, and the original NBA Jam spoiled me by not only having good players from the start, but having fun ways to unlock new ones, not this garbage. While the gameplay itself isn't half bad, the general implementation of the game ruined it for me. Move away from card packs and maybe I'll return for the sequel.



That is all for now, so I hope you enjoyed this breakdown. Please stay tuned, as I've already started working on the next batch.

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