All posts by Nindie Spotlight

Your source for anything to do with Indie games either coming to the Nintendo Switch or that will hopefully be headed to it at some point.

Review: I and Me


While I and Me has its simple charms between its laid back music, easygoing pace, and periodic Zen-like words of calmness there is a point where that approach can backfire. There is no doubt in my mind that there’s a class of gamer that will enjoy it, perhaps even a great deal, but aside from very casual gamers (not likely the ones to spring for a $300 console you can take on the go) I’m thinking for many people it won’t be very satisfying once all is said and done.

Starting with the positive the game is absolutely cute, with its two small black kittens who you’ll need to move (they move together unless blocked by an obstacle), through their puzzle of platforms, hazards, and various odd animals to their respective picture frames. The level is concluded when you get them both into their frames at once and you’ll be expected to utilize whatever is around you, some intuition, and sometimes some dexterity as well to get them there and ensure their spacing works out properly. On some levels there’s an additional challenge of a notepad for you to blend into your plan of attack if you want to up your effort a little, but at a high level the entire game has just been described.

That leads a bit into one of the valid criticisms for the game, that from the start very little changes in terms of the experience or makes a significant impression. There are seasonal variations and new elements that get added as you progress through the levels but in truth it kind of all ends up being the difference in painting the walls in the ivory versus the bone. The music may vary but even as a music-lover I can’t say any of it stood out. Added to that there ultimately are a very limited set of total assets in the game to mix things up with both in terms of visuals and in gameplay. There are no outright faults to any of it but there also aren’t any real highlights.

 

 

What will make or break the game for you, though, will be the puzzles and whether you find them engaging. Overall, as a puzzle fan, I’ll say that I didn’t find the majority of them challenging either in terms of planning or execution. At the end of the day any given edge or element is a clue to the ultimate solution so even without planning things out you can generally barrel head-on into the puzzle with assumptions on how it will work based on the layout. Unfortunately I’d say that the puzzles I did struggle the most on were aggravating not because I couldn’t figure out how to solve them but because the very mild platforming elements to the game are a little on the wonkier side at times. It is when you combined this with the very slow pace of the game that I actually got the most frustrated. When you know the solution, you fail to execute on some detail, and then everything resets and you need to wait through some pattern again multiple times you start to think about bad things happening to innocent little black kittens. Either a fast forward button or even a rewind option would serve the game incredibly well and maintain a greater focus on it being a clever puzzler and not a mediocre platformer.

 


With all of this in mind I find myself in the middle concerning how to score I and Me. There’s really nothing inherently wrong with it, but at the same time I didn’t find it terribly compelling or able to significantly differentiate itself from similar offerings you could find on tablets (or even mobile phones) in terms of challenge or interest. The overall demographics for Switch owners I’d say probably compound this problem a bit, since it is a very sedate and exclusively single-player experience, but I’ll acknowledge that for the right people this could actually be a selling point. I’d say the best bet is to read a variety of reviews, check out some video, and take it all in to decide whether or not the game is for you. While I’d personally prefer something more innovative, there is a place for I and Me on the Switch for people looking for a calming way to puzzle away some hours.

Score: 5

Pros:

  • Cute, charming, and generally sedate
  • Traditional puzzle-solving fare
  • A reasonably high number of puzzles if you enjoy their style

Cons:

  • Cute, charming, and generally sedate
  • Traditional puzzle-solving fare
  • The slow pace, when married with the clunky platforming that is sometimes necessary, can make the game aggravating for the wrong reason
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Nindie Preview: Rocket Fist


While I began getting acquainted with Rocket Fist I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. The controls were simple to understand, and the action was intense and frantic. Yet, underneath that simplicity, there was plenty of room for skill and even strategy. In the back of my mind there was a thought that was clawing to get out, a realization it took some reflection to finally put into words: In many ways this is what Bomberman used to feel like to me when it got its most intense.

Multi-Player Action

I’m not sure that even videos can properly convey the very fast-paced experience you get with this title. Find a fist, look for your shot, point and fire, retreat, try to stun someone with a fist so you can have it, look for a power-up, or maybe even look for an opportunity to throw your fist at one another player is trying to pick up to create some glorious chaos! If you’re feeling really daring you may even be able to time it so you can catch someone else’s punch… but you’d better have that timing nailed to get away with it! That’s just the bare basics, but once you layer in various obstacles that create a variety of angles for your shots, elements like walls that raise or lower on the press of a button, or moving conveyor belts that can speed you up or slow you down, it makes for quite a challenge to both your skills and your ingenuity!

The single-player Adventure mode is actually not so different from playing the multiplayer Versus mode, you just are progressing through various challenges until you get to a Boss fight, then move onto the next sector. That said, it does do a pretty good job of introducing concepts to you little by little, so you’re not just thrown into the mix and expected to understand everything while you’re busy dying. You can also rock Versus mode by yourself against bots and I was happy so far to find them challenging without also being cheap, though the dead “ghosts” did seem to try to team up on me from the sides.

Meet Uncle Knuckle… He doesn’t like you

While the space for local multiplayer gaming on the Switch is about to get pretty crowded in the coming months I’m thinking Rocket Punch has a shot at capturing a safe chunk of people looking for some fast and crazy fun. It has a cartoony and colorful look, it brings the action to you in a hurry, and at least for me it inspires a nostalgia for local multiplayer games I enjoyed with friends on the SNES. Will check out the final version once it makes its way to the Switch and give you the full details then!

This preview is based off of the current PC build of the game, there is no known date for its debut on the Switch at this time.

Cross-Posted from Nindie Spotlight

Nindie Preview: Death Squared


If Snipperclips would be considered the cute and quirky puzzle game in the Nintendo Switch family, 30 levels into Death Squared I’m thinking it would be the drunk uncle. It has a pretty offbeat sense of humor (flashes of Portal’s GLaDOS quickly come to mind), is a bit weird, but then will turn on a dime and get downright mean. If you like a challenge, though, I’d say that in this case it’s a good thing!

Learn to be very wary of those spikes!

The game is all about puzzling, conquering levels composed of a variety of obstacles and death traps (sooo many ways to die), in order to progress and move on to the next of the Story mode’s 80 levels. If you’re inclined to step up the level of insane coordination the game also offers a 40-level Party mode that will double the number of robots you’ll have to weave through a tangle of even more devious challenges.

What’s really great about the Story mode is that since each robot on the screen only requires a single joystick to control you can easily choose to play through it by yourself. It does require quite a bit of mental dexterity, at times, to remember which joystick is controlling which robot. That said, it is far less clumsy than having to press a button to switch control back and forth, also allowing for challenges that require both robots to move at once. You can obviously choose to play this mode with a friend as well, and whether having another person makes the game easier or harder will likely vary.

That moment you realize you may need to start over

What this also means is that the game’s Party mode can be played with only 2 people, each controlling 2 of the robots. Only having briefly tried this I will say that as hard as it can be to play Story mode by yourself, having 2 people each manage 2 robots at once steps up the difficulty quite a bit more.

Robot stacking, you’ll need to do it in a number of ways and often

There’s still a lot of content left for me to check out in the game but even within the fraction of the content I’ve unlocked I’ve seen some great mind-bending and patience-testing puzzles. Every few levels there’s typically yet another element added to the pile of things you have to contend with so there’s not been an opportunity to get comfortable, and that suits me just fine.

This preview is based off the current release version of the game for the Nintendo Switch (barring a Day-1 patch). Its current release date is July 13th!

Cross-Posted from Nindie Spotlight

Nindie Preview: Rocket League


Of all the upcoming Indie titles coming to the Nintendo Switch there’s none that I’m more genuinely excited for than Rocket League. Not so much for the opportunity to play it, my current logged game time for it on Steam stands at 491 hours, but for the opportunity for more people to be able to share in what I consider to be my favorite competitive “sports” game ever.

Ooooh yeah…

At it simplest level the game sounds a bit silly: Rocket-powered cars, playing soccer (or some variant) in a closed arena. Uhm… yeah. Well, I’m here to tell you that once you get your first goal off the wall or manage to make a daring last-second save you may just get hooked in. Getting started can be a challenge. Figuring out whether you want to play with your eyes ahead or on the ball (though it is confusing at first this view is highly recommended), learning to “feel” where the goal is, and working to develop your aerial skills are all important but there’s one thing probably more important than any other: Learning to figure out and play to where the ball is or will be going instead of simply chasing it (Damn you crowders and ball chasers, don’t be one of these people!).

Getting past technique there are a pretty crazy variety of ways to play, and the great news is that on a periodic basis Psyonix has continued to add new modes. Not all of them are great or popular, but I appreciate the continued effort they’ve put into the game a good 2 years in and there’s no sign of them stopping. First you have the standard matches, whether played casually or ranked, going from 1 v 1 up to 3 v 3. These are the bread and butter matches and where I personally (in ranked, typically 3 v 3) spend the majority of my time. In addition there’s a 4 v 4 and aptly-named Chaos mode, Hoops mode (somewhat as silly as the one in ARMS and I’ve never had much fun with it), Snow Day mode (replace the ball with a hockey puck), Rumble mode (my favorite alternative mode with a variety of ridiculous power-ups to spice the game up), and the newest mode called Dropshot (the arena floor for either team can be damaged by the ball, eventually falling away, the holes then become “goals”). Bottom line, there’s probably something for everyone and you can keep things from getting stale pretty easily.

Boots, boxing gloves, spikes… anything goes in Rumble Mode

There is a also a single-player Season mode, assuming it would come to the Switch as well, and it does do a fair job of putting you up against Bots that can play a generally good game. This is the place to hone your skills a bit after hitting the basic Training Mode that will cover fundamentals. Online play, as always, can be a “dangerous” place when your skills are lacking, though thankfully as a whole I consider the Rocket League community about the most consistently polite among the online games I’ve played. If you don’t have ready access to online play this mode can serve you well enough but you’d really be missing out on the best the game has to offer.

Dropshot is a game spent mostly in the air

I can (and probably would) talk all day about the game but in the end you’ll have to check things out for yourself to make up your mind. Even with all the hours I’ve put in, and with the skills I’ve developed, there is still a significant amount of technique the people who are very good at the game have over me. Some of the aerial goals you’ll see will simply blow you away and the good news is that if you get up your courage and refine your skills you’ll find that you can pull those moves off as well. It’s when you connect on those crazy impulses and score or block that the game makes you a fan, you just need to have the nerve to try.

This preview is based off of the current PC version of the game. There is no announced date or final list of features for the Switch version but cross-platform play has been confirmed so it should be comparable in what it offers.

Nindie Preview: Flat Heroes


I know this is just meant to be a preview but the Early Access version of the game I’ve already played on PC is enough to make me say it here: This is absolutely a game people should be paying attention to. As a single-player reaction/puzzler it is devious and brilliant, as an exhilarating exercise in testing your ability to use a tight moveset to survive it is inspired, and with a group of friends there is a great mix of both simplicity and nuance driving fast-paced multiplayer fun. Screen shots and even video can’t quite do justice to the experience I’ve had checking the game out, but I fear because of its minimalist appearance people will mistakenly pass it by.

4-Player Chaotic Action in Versus Mode

Flat Heroes is precisely what I am looking for in an indie title, and that so often is missing in mainstream offerings: the purity of a great idea impeccably executed. What looks to have begun as an exercise in working control mechanics to an extremely satisfying level of quality has been turned into a gauntlet of maddening challenges.

While the campaign starts out feeling more like a simple-ish puzzle game you’ll quickly begin to see signs of what’s to come. It very effectively begins to nudge you towards learning the control mechanics like double-jumping and sticking to walls, as well as the various enemies you’ll need to contend with. With each level new combinations of enemies and level designs will push you to further refine your skills and then each world culminates in a boss fight to test what you’ve learned. Perhaps it is the years of playing too many games with underwhelming boss battles talking but every boss battle is a challenge and several of them are downright brutal to take out.

On top of the single-player campaign (that can optionally be played in multiplayer as well) there’s also then a Survival Mode and a multiplayer-focused Versus Mode. Survival mode requires little explanation, it is a gauntlet of challenges on a single level that will test all of those evasion skills you’ve mastered. Though the enemies and placements will remain the same for each round every match will inevitably play out differently the moment you begin moving. Through persistence and a bit of luck you’ll then unlock additional levels to further test your skills. Versus mode offers a variety of relatively simple game modes that will pit you against up to 3 friends or CPU opponents. Gameplay is fast and chaotic, seemingly perfectly suited to a raucous time with your friends locally.

Boss Fights (That Are Actually Hard)!!!

As the game, at this point, is still not finished there may be additional additions and/or changes made but I’m very eager to see how the game ends up, it is already a very compelling and challenging package!

This preview is based on the Early Access version of the game currently available on Steam. If you’d like to sample the gameplay there is an available demo you can check out of Survival Mode here or on Steam.

Cross-posted from MAMEiac Gaming

Nindie Preview: Hyper Sentinel


Right from the moment you hit the title screen and the glorious retro music starts, taking me back to my classic Commodore 64 gaming days, there’s no missing that this is a retro title in every way. Resembling, to me, a game I might have played on my buddy’s ColecoVision, Hyper Sentinel is a fast-moving homage to a variety of classic arcade-style titles.

In each level you’ll be challenged to destroy a number of targets on a huge ship you’re flying over. You’ll be distracted by enemy fighters, power-up opportunities, and a wide variety of ship defenses as you progress through the game. Each level is also capped off with a boss battle, and you’ll need to work to drain the boss’s health while keeping a careful eye on your own. Fortunately your ship will replenish its health if you’re able to avoid being hit for a little while, though depending on what’s going on at the time that can be harder to manage than you may think.

While your first goal will likely be to simply survive the levels and bosses that the game throws at you the game, for most people, will really be about chasing high scores. But, in order to maximize your score you’ll first have to work to keep up with everything going on! Power-ups and score multipliers will often whiz by you, making you chase them down or circle back for them. However, as the levels progress, a variety of obstacles and enemy weapon systems will make you think twice about flying recklessly. The potential for a rich classic arcade gaming experience is already in place, I’m eager to see how the final product turns out!

Nindie Preview: Phantom Trigger


At the point I’ve gotten to in the Phantom Trigger alpha (looking and feeling quite polished for an alpha, BTW) it has pretty well sold me on the final product fully, and I get the sense that there’s quite a bit more to see and do still. I’ve seen just enough of the story to be very curious about what’s been happening in the real world and to then understand how the in-game action relates to it. It’s an interesting and unexpected hook in a game of this general type.

Though the final product may attempt to do more to explain the game systems I was obviously able to make my way through them and come out the other end at least combo capable. While you can dispatch the menagerie of odd-looking enemies with standard attacks it is the variety of elemental combos you begin to learn that are obviously meant to be where you place your focus. With some attacks that freeze and slow and others that burn for extra damage there are a number of ways to deal with your enemies and you’ll need to use them effectively since even early on the game is more than happy to give you several to manage fighting at once.

It feels as if, having made it through the first world, the table has been set with the basics and now I’ll be able to dig into the meatier challenges the game decides to throw at me. Very early in the second world the first signs of that challenge have made themselves clear: Enemies that are in some way elemental, and can only take damage from specific types of attacks. Just to throw in a curveball some of them also rotate which element they have a weakness to. There’s nothing like a game that is sure to keep you paying attention to details.

Phantom Trigger was only announced for the Switch this past weekend and there’s no currently-known timeline for its release. Even with the promising gameplay I’ve already encountered I’m intrigued by the developer description for the game including the term roguelike. As a fan of that type of game I’m eager to see how that may play into things, though at the point I’m at in the game I haven’t seen any signs of it. Regardless, what I’ve seen is quite promising and I look forward to the final release of the game!

Cross-Posted from MAMEiac Gaming

Nindie Preview: Syberia 3


While I’d heard of the Syberia series before I’d not indulged in any of them to this point. However, since it has been confirmed that Syberia 3 will be coming to the Switch I decided to check it out. Having played quite a number of adventure-style games that Syberia 3 is reminiscent of, after a few hours of play, I’d say it represents its genre pretty well. It tells a reasonably good story and has you solving puzzles through a combination of smarts, found objects, and some good old experimentation.

Starting with the positive I’m reasonably intrigued by the game’s story and main characters. While there are elements to the story that are familiar the foreign setting and culture of the nomadic group that found and saved you are interesting and I’m curious to see how it will all play out. The puzzles to this point are also generally a positive as they do a good job of making you intuit your solutions through targeted trial and error, making you feel smart when you figure them out. A few times there have been clues there to help guide me, but the nice thing is that I typically didn’t completely understand them until I was well on my way to finding the solution, which is a nice balance.

Where I’ll throw a bit of caution out is definitely on the fact that this is a pretty classic slow-paced adventure title and there’s nothing here that breaks away from that mold so if you’re not into that sort of game you’ll want to steer clear. At least to the point I’ve gotten in the game a criticism is that even moreso than normal the experience is a bit “on rails” at times, turning it into a sort of mildly interactive story since there are limited things to interact with along the way. However, since some games in the genre have also infuriated me with a pile of garbage to wade through in order to find what you need to progress I’ll credit it with not needlessly wasting my time either. It’s a difficult balance.

At the end of the day Syberia 3 will be a completely unique experience at this time on the Switch, and people looking for a story-driven adventure should probably be satisfied with it, depending on pricing and other details. I played the game on the PC using an XBox 360 controller and it worked well, so control moving over to the Switch shouldn’t be an issue. The characters and environments are sufficiently large on-screen that it being playable while in handheld mode should also not be a concern. It’s a game to look out for if you’ve been itching for something story-driven with some puzzles along the way.

Not Yet Nindies: Indie Titles I’d Love to see on Switch [Part 1]


The goal of this exercise is to shed light on independent games out there that I’ve had a great time playing and that would seem to be well-suited to playing portably on the Nintendo Switch. Nothing is listed here because of any special insights and there’s no “wink wink” to any of it. It is purely a listing of indie games I enjoy, that perhaps you should check out if you’d like where they’re available currently, and that would be awesome on the Switch.


Rocket League

OK, so the pitch sounds absolutely ridiculous to anyone who isn’t familiar with the game. For the uninformed you just need to imagine 3-on-3 soccer played with rocket-powered cars. Completely crazy, yes, but in execution it is a game that is slowly inching towards my all-time most played game second only to the hat simulator also known as Team Fortress 2. 


Rocket League is a legitimate eSport, it is fast, it is fun, and it is the only “sports” game I’ve ever stuck with for any significant amount of time. Even now, though the game has been out for quite some time, there are still new modes and enhancements being made to the game on a regular basis. Nintendo, please make this happen!


Flinthook

This one just came out and I’ve only just begun to play it but it is a roguelike with style and fun to burn, the only pain is it would be even better in portable form. You’re roughly a bounty hunter using your grappling hook, your gun, and some skilled execution to bring down your targets. A really good time, it is the newest big indie roguelike darling for a reason.


Nuclear Throne

OK, so this one is getting pretty old, and I’m also aware the toolset it was made in isn’t currently supported by the Switch. But when the details on the system were announced this was the first game I really got into wanting to see in a portable form!


Another rogue-like the itch for this will be scratched somewhat when Enter the Gungeon hits but, overall, I still prefer Nuclear Throne and the characters you get to choose from. Their play styles can be quite radically different and it is a whole lot of aggravating fun!


Super Mega Baseball

While I’d seen it available in the nVidia store for the Shield TV and had also heard some positive buzz it wasn’t until I took it for a spin that I began to understand why people like it. I suppose it has just been such a long time since I’ve played a fun arcade-style baseball title that I’d practically forgotten they could be made.

Stylistically distinct it can look a bit goofy but make no mistake, there’s both accessibility and depth to be had in this game, a combination that can sometimes be tough to put together in balance. Until Nintendo would decide to make their own baseball title this may be the most ideal option in the current market for making a splash on the Switch.


ClusterTruck

What an odd but engaging title this one is. Imagine a speed-runner mixed heavily with platforming elements, but that your platforms are actual tractor trailers crashing into things and each other. As it progresses there get to be even more diabolical puzzle elements that will force you to use your brains as well as your reflexes to control your flying through the air and hopefully not crash and burn. The quick round nature of the game would be especially well-suited on the Switch.