Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2019 (Part 2) – Switch Lightening Round!

One of the more notable stories in games this year was the rise in ridiculously slashed game prices on the Nintendo eShop for games that otherwise were starting to get overlooked in the marketplace.  It definitely feels like that has slowed down quite a bit even if there are a few good deals here and there, but let’s take a look at some of the games that I bought on a whim!!

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Crypt of the NecroDancer

GAMES2019-10

Developed by Brace Yourself Games

I played this game a while back when it was on Steam and wasn’t too impressed.  I was TOLD that there was a DDR mode and the idea of doing steps to do super moves or whatever sounded intriguing, but using a mat makes the game almost unplayable and when I used a keyboard it just felt rather dull.  When it was on sale for the Switch however, I decided to give it another shot, and you know what?  It’s pretty good.  Not one of my favorite games for the system, not one of my favorite rogue likes for that matter, but the gameplay works well enough and that soundtrack is pretty rocking. My biggest problem was getting overwhelmed pretty easily as the controls and combat intersect in an interesting but still odd way, and the fact that you’re encouraged to keep things to the beat means there’s not a lot of time to really think things out which is when you get blasted in the face with a dragon beam or get crushed by the boss for the ten millionth time.  Then again, complaining about dying a lot is like complaining about the lack of sweet dunking skills in a first person shooter, as amazing as it would be to see Master Chief tear it up on the court, and by now the game is old enough that you can ask everyone and their grandmother how good it is instead of asking this Grumpy Gus.  If nothing else, I’m pretty interested in playing The Cadence of Hyrule which not only incorporates Zelda iconography and music, but appears to downplay the rouge-like elements for a more traditional adventure.  Let’s hope there’s a decent sale soon so it’ll be on next year’s retrospective!

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Digger Man

GAMES2019-11

Developed by Digital Melody

I’m PRETTY sure this is the only game I beat this entire year which definitely says something positive about the experience.  Each round is quick lasting no more than MAYBE two minutes, and the gameplay is simplistic enough that you can easily jump in and out whenever you’d like.  It feels very much like a mobile game in that regard, though a touch screen would certainly struggle a bit with just how reflexive your actions are the further and further you get into the dungeon.  I believe it only took me about three sittings to beat, none of which topping out past an hour, and for what it’s worth I had a great time playing it!

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Frederic: Resurrection of Music

GAMES2019-12

Developed by Forever Entertainment SA

I REALLY wanted to like this game and I finally figured out that the best control scheme is using the touch controls, but there feels like there’s something off about the hit detection and the scoring.  It took me an obnoxiously long time to beat just the first level in this which is a shame because the art style and the odd yet intriguing storyline could have kept me going had it not been such a frustrating experience.  If you could hook up a Rock Band keyboard to this, it would probably be a much more satisfying experience, and now that I think about it… would a USB keyboard work with The Switch?  Seriously, if you could somehow hook up a piano to a Switch, it’d be the PERFECT device for a piano teaching app, right?  Just prop it up on the music rack and away you go!

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Membrane

GAMES2019-13

Developed by Perfect Hat

Out of ALL the bottom dollar games I got this year, this was the absolute best of them!  It’s an ingenious little puzzle game that incorporates elements of platformers that kind of feels like a much more hands on version of Lemmings where you have to make paths to get to the other side, but you also control your character directly which allows for a lot more flexibility in solving some of the challenges.  I probably put a good six or so hours into this game which is saying something for a game that I paid less than a dollar for, and even at its regular price it’s definitely one I’d recommend getting!

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Serial Cleaner

GAMES2019-14

Developed by iFun4all

I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did simply form the premise and that amazing pun, but there’s just not a lot to this game.  The stealth is pretty straightforward and barebones with challenges that feel more frustrating than satisfying, and the aesthetic doesn’t quite live up to its potential.  There’s definitely the sense that this is trying to be like Hotline Miami with inter-level cut scenes playing out almost EXACTLY like the ones in that game, but the story is simply not as interesting and the presentation is too simple.  I didn’t play it all the way through so MAYBE there’s a twist later on that will pump up the drama, but it never felt like we were building to anything as the guy just got phone calls, went to his car, did the job, and then did it all over again for the next level.  So what we’re left with is ho-hum gameplay coupled with an unengaging story which is not what I’d call a good combination, but maybe I’m being overly harsh and this sort of isometric stealth action is perfect for bite sized sessions on the Switch.  All I know is I’d rather be playing Hotline Miami instead.

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Steamworld Dig

GAMES2019-15

Developed by Image & Form Games

If anyone remembers the game Motherload from the good ol’ days of the mid-2000s internet, this game reminded me of that in a really good way.  The gameplay is pretty straightforward when you get right down to it as you’re essentially digging a hole and managing your inventory; getting deeper with each trip but weighing the benefits of stopping your progress to run back up the ladder to drop off your shiny rocks for cash.  It also reminded me of Terraria in a good way as well because the game is self-contained and has a definite endpoint which means that I only played it for about eight hours before the game told me I was done.  I honestly really do need that for games like this as I can get obsored in them way too easily and games like Terraria which scratch that itch but is content to let you play indefinitely are a bit reckless and is why I eventually HAD to uninstall Terraria for my own good.  I do plan on playing the sequel at some point because of how much I enjoyed this self-contained story, and hopefully I’ll be back here a year from now to tell you all about it!

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SUPERBEAT: XONiC

GAMES2019-16

Developed by Nurijoy & PM Studios

I’m a big fan of rhythm game (we’ll be talking about one AT LENGTH soon enough), but I just couldn’t really get into this one.  It reminds me a bit of the Hatsune Miku rythem game which I also had trouble getting into and I think it has to do with the controls.  Regular controls, even ones that look kind of like fight sticks such as the REALLY expensive Hatsune Miku ones, just aren’t all that intuitive when it comes to rhythm games the same way a dance mat, a guitar, or just moving yourself around can be.  It’s soundtrack is a bit underwhelming as well, though it understandable that there aren’t any recognizable beats given that the game doesn’t seem to have the budget of a Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution, I just didn’t really get into the soundtrack all that much.  Really, with so many options out there for rhythm games, I don’t see myself turning to this one anytime soon.

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Urban Trials Playground

GAMES2019-17

Developed by Teyon

Oh hey! Speaking of internet games from the days long ago when Flash ruled the world, Trials was a game I definitely played online and this is the first time I bought a version for consoles.  Sure enough, the game is exactly as it was back when I was surfing the web in middle school, but the core gameplay is fun enough that it doesn’t really need that much evolution.  The balancing gameplay is challenging yet the game encourages repeated plays going so far as to add an instant reset button so you can go for that perfect run.  The only problem I have is that some of the challenges are REALLY difficult to pull off, so while you can easily breeze through the game just by finishing the levels, getting the bonus stars becomes very frustrating very quickly.  Other than that and an admittedly lower tier presentation (sounds are noticeably bland), this is still a good time killer for the Switch and there’s a place for that; even with the many great games are on there like Membrane and Steamworld Dig that you could be playing as well.

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Two down, and just one more to go!  Next up we’ll be talking about the VR experiences I tried out this year, so look forward to that one!!

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