Features Retrospective Reviews

Buying Switch Games For Under £10 – A Retrospective Review Special

The Switch has no shortage of games. In fact, the Switch has a lot of games…

Everyone loves a bargain, but sometimes just spending half an hour on a game doesn’t tell you enough about it, and very few of us actually have the spare cash to be throwing around at a guessing game to find that one low-price gem. So, let me save you the trouble and give you my honest thoughts across a number of smaller Switch titles.

The plan? Get straight to the point; are these games worth your time and do they represent value for money?

Leopoldo Manquiseil / Price: £5.39

What do you get?
The video game industry is under threat! The tyrants at A.M.E. are monopolising the market, though have darker intentions. Indie studios are on hand to turn things around. Also, titular dev, Leo, has powers. Flaming wheels, spikes and corporate assassins are among those out to stop you.

This is a cartoon-meets old-school design screen-by-screen platformer with a double jump, an air dash which doubles as an attack and a lovely Tetris style tune for the first level… and the same tune for every other level, too.

Each level is split into small sections in which you’re expected to die frequently and restart at the start of each section, while grabbing collectibles on the way.

Was it fun?
For a bit.

It wore thin when the difficultly ramped up. The game begins moderately difficult, though less difficult when not chasing each level’s three collectibles, but quickly becomes hard as nails to the point of frustration.

Time recorded speed-running adds weight, though is notably missing a ‘restart’ option, but it’s all against a backdrop of shallow level design that delights in simply throwing extra obstacles at you, without providing the sort of flowing high-speed platforming other titles in the genre are renowned for.

For example, the game’s first boss, a group of angry Comic Relief red noses, is an absolute snoozefest. While not particularly challenging, the repetition of the music coupled with the boring bouncing-ball-that-multiplies schtick had me dying multiple times simply because my attention drifted off. Equally, the writing doesn’t land, coming across as attempting outlandish-but-wholesome, though never actually managing to be funny.

That said, the jumping and air-dash physics are tight, and the fundamentals work well. The little gimmicks like the chilli pepper, which adds extra jumps, switch gameplay up. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make up for the fluctuating difficulty and odd stage design.

Will you play it again?
Probably not. It’s completely inaccessible for anyone not versed in the Super Meat Boy style games but even for those of us that are, there’s really nothing stand-out in level design that pulls through to hold enough interest.

Score: 5/10

Publisher: BLG Publishing
Developer: The Vanir Project
Age Rating: PEGI 3

Bleep Bloop / Price: £3.99

What do you get?
A couple of blobs bounding across small maps.

Bleep Bloop is a light-hearted puzzle game with two-player co-op requiring directional controls only. The idea is essentially a calm, easy to boot up, simple to control, friendship-destroying puzzler based around the style of those sliding ice levels on RPGs. You know the sort; select a direction and your blob keeps sliding until it hits a wall, you then have to navigate both blobs to the end.

The single player game is identical to the co-op, and in Snipperclips style, when playing alone, you control both characters. Unlike Snipperclips, however, you don’t suffer for it as this game is slow-paced and more easily managed.

The devs also managed to make a pair of blocks cute by sticking a couple of dots on them. Good stuff. They completely missed a trick in not colouring the blobs to match whatever JoyCon is attached to their respective side, though.

Was it fun?
An emphatic yes. The cheap and cheerful short experience makes for a perfect quick-play table-top session. Like the Switch’s UI, everything is utterly simple and without bloat, lending itself to the overall experience. You get what you see. The music’s utterly forgettable and lacking in complexity but is non-intrusive and largely there to simply set a relaxing mood with a moody piano piece that wouldn’t sound out of place in Minecraft.

The only issue is the difficulty. In short, it’s far too easy, even in the late stages.

Will you play it again?
Absolutely. There is much to be said about simple design that doesn’t overstep its boundaries unnecessarily. There’s enough content for a couple of hours single playthrough but stack the co-op on top to effectively double this.

Score: 7/10

Publisher: Zerouno Games
Developer: Zerouno Games
Age Rating: PEGI 3

12 is Better Than 6 / Price: £8.99

What do you get?
A top-down old western style action game set in 1873 Mexico with a beautiful hand-drawn art style that was literally hand-drawn with pen and paper. Gun-types are era-authentic, and each area is based on a real-life counterpart.

Your sombrero rocking gunslinger is an escaped prisoner, on the run to make it all the way to Texas, and to get there you’ll need to navigate through a series of rooms within each short level, using either a touch of stealth and slashing a path to the exit, or just going full cowboy; fanning the hammer and shredding through lines of gun-toting oppressors.

The control set up is in the style of a twin-stick shooter, with the left stick handling movement and the right, your cursor for aiming, though hitting the LT to cock the gun sets the auto-targeting to the nearest enemy, allowing for fast paced action. The game also features equipment upgrades, which can be transformative in evening the odds when used wisely.

The arcade speed of play is supplemented by easy-to-understand mechanics. The easiest gameplay comparison to make is to Hotline Miami, but while 12 is Better Than 6 doesn’t reach those dizzying heights, the stylistic choices, setting and solid mechanics help the game carve out an identity of its own.

Was it fun?
Yup, yup, yup.

Strategy is mostly diluted to learning the layout of the levels and enemy placement until scrapped for ‘can I can shoot and reload quickly enough as these guys run through the door’. It’s fine though, this ain’t Hitman.

TUBTS, as I’ve taken to calling it, provides silky smooth, satisfying movement and aiming. Having endless showdowns with moving hats in their ranch dressing doesn’t get old and the challenging ‘one-more-run’ hook kept me playing ‘til sundown.

Will you play it again?
I’ll fill my boots.

Score: 7.5/10

Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Developer: Ink Stain Games
Age Rating: PEGI 16

Uncanny Valley / Price: £8.99

What do you get?
Reality twists and turns for poor security guard, Tom who finds himself in the middle of a 2D survival horror made of seriously impressive spritework. Well, alright, that’s not quite the plot. Oh, and don’t be put off by the thought of pixel art here as the sprites are dense, rich and incredibly detailed.

The game kicks off with you dressed as a hobo, rolling out of a bin in a dank, rainy street. Funnily enough it’s a perfect set up that’s really well-handled and drew me in immediately. As you wander outside in the opening section, you’re charged into by a shadowing figure, immediately switching to a scene in which our man, Tom, wakes up in a bed, presuming what happened to be a dream. Next up, a ringing doorbell grabs your attention before a hoard of shadowed figures burst in and make a scene. Again, you wake up. This time on a dimly lit train, then you’re off to work.

Tom’s new security job takes him to an unusually well-maintained building for one so desolate, and it’s during Tom’s night shifts that you explore the facility in the hope of triggering events and working out what the hell is actually going on, often by collecting video tapes, reading emails and generally piecing events together.

Having a lucid nightmare then waking up in a different room becomes commonplace. Once up and about you’ll mash the B button to examine whatever you can. There’s a bit of Resident Evil in the inventory management and the use x item on x, with the usual level of obscurity to puzzle solving. However, even with the time limit of each shift keeping the pressure on, as well as Tom’s abysmal fitness levels (he can’t run more than a few paces), the building is simple to navigate, and it doesn’t take long to make progress.

The development team billed Uncanny Valley as a choice-driven title in which multiple playthroughs reveal. What’s touted as the consequence system is a novel and fairly unique mechanic that means mistakes punish the player with lasting effects, which ensure you have to approach situations differently.

However, there’s flaw in the pacing in that it messes with the structure of the game to the point of reordering plot points, occasionally causing minor spoilers before they’re due.

It’s a shame that, while the meat of what’s here is spot-on for a 2D take on the horror format, it plays its hand a touch too early. If the clues tying the story together were presented in a more linear method, the plot would probably hold up better. At the same time, that vision of Uncanny Valley would remove its key features.

I’ve heard complaints of the game being bug-ridden so I can only imagine it’s been patched, or I’ve been lucky, as the only bug I came across was an instance of some overlapping text.

Was it fun?
Well, yes. Everything is creepy as hell and the atmosphere is captured in all senses. The audio track covers a wide range of tormenting sound effects and heart-rate heightening tension.

Steal a car and you might end in a weird situation where you lose a couple of limbs after being mashed up by zombie skeleton dudes. Or something to that effect (no spoilers from me!).

The visual style is just one of many highlights in a professional and polished narrative-driven horror game that relies on atmosphere rather than jump-scares. There is joy in discovery throughout multiple playthroughs and you’ll find new items you didn’t notice before and bits that pull events together.

Unfortunately, its structure can be broken somewhat by the player and when it’s unintentional, it stings as the plot unravels too quickly.

Will you play it again?
I will venture back to seek out all the secrets. It is a very short game, after all.

Score: 8/10

Publisher: Digerati
Developer: Cowardly Creations
Age Rating: PEGI 16

Awe / Price: £4.49

What do you get?
An unresponsive broken useless… oh wait, no it’s touchscreen only, that’s why it wasn’t working!

Awe falls loosely in the puzzler category but encased in a god-sim-lite. Players are tasked with building up a low-poly planet by tapping segments sequentially based on their colour. The planet slowly spins on its axis while you look for crystal shards of ‘awe’, gradually building up funds to add some life to your celestial body.

There’s freedom to decorate the planet as you see fit based on the very limited options available per level.

The ambient, gentle music and chimes will have your BPM dropping faster than an Activision Day 1 patch. However, the issue lies in the fact that Awe does nothing to raise it back up.

Was it fun?
No. It wasn’t taxing, it was too frustratingly slow to be relaxing and it felt a bit like a demo for showcasing a mini-game.

Will you play it again?
Sorry, but no.

Score: 3/10

Publisher: BLG Publishing
Developer: Bad Land Development Studio
Age Rating: PEGI 3

Daggerhood / Price: £4.99

What do you get?

An absolute bargain. Daggerhood has a 2D visual style which lands between Cave Story and Celeste. It’s not far off the playstyle of the latter, either. Daggerhood doesn’t have the prestige of the story-driven equivalents, but for a budget title it has gameplay finesse in spades.

Daggerhood’s feather in its die-a-lot/repeat-platforming cap is the classy teleportation mechanic. Like an anime ninjutsu, your character, the thief; Vincent S. Daggerhood, throws his dagger and, at a touch of the ‘y’ button, replaces the dagger mid-air with his own body. The game’s double jump can be performed as standard but can also be activated after switching with the dagger’s position, allowing for impressive manoeuvres. This mechanic is eloquently woven in to the core level design, creating those platforming split-second/pixel-perfect moments of sheer satisfaction that only precision design can bring. Dying always felt like it was my fault, never the fault of a cheap enemy or set of spikes placement. Each environment gives you enough warning about what’s ahead with a decent view, allowing players to plan moves as you explore the small environments. The low lag and tight platforming lend themselves to the fast-paced stage-hopping structure.

A three-star rating system ranks you on time alone, but the challenge lies in grabbing each level’s treasure. The tougher-to-reach items sit in optional routes, creating a difficulty setting choice of sorts, through standard play. If you want the challenge it’s there, if you choose to simply have a blast just teleporting around chasing fast times, it’s just as fun.

Rounding off the end-of-level measures of success is the fairy collectible found on each level. A fairy will appear, generally near the beginning of the stage, and will only remain in place for a very short time period. This translates to you having to commit seppuku for every tiny mis-step, as little to nothing is forgiven in teleporting to get there in time. These are often devilishly difficult to obtain and represent the game’s biggest challenge in my view. Or maybe I’m just a scrub; you can decide.

While new elements are added throughout a playthrough, the visuals, while landing on a very competent cave-based art direction, don’t vary enough stage-by-stage. This is where the game lacks ambition and, with more emphasis on exploring and expanding on the solid foundations, the visuals could have been so much more, offering a path to a more unique feel. The danger here is that Daggerhood will get lost in the shuffle by looking too similar to its peers.

There is a story of some sort in there, or at least some lore but it’s not the focus. DaggerDude is a thief and he gets thrown into a dangerous cavern as punishment for nicking stuff. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the gameplay.

Was it fun?
Immensely. For this price, Daggerhood is a steal and shouldn’t be slept on by genre fans. It’s not exactly accessible but being able to progress without completing the most difficult tasks should at least open it up to those platform-competent gamers who aren’t always looking for a perfect run.

I have to say, that dagger is the size of a bloody missile. If our man Daggerhood can not only wield that thing, but actually launch it like a dart, you have to ask some serious questions about this dude’s capabilities. And who the hell managed to catch him? They’re due a raise.

I had a blast while listening to the funky 8/16-bit soundtrack mash up, and I will be keeping a keen eye on the developer’s future output.

Will you play it again?
Yes, I’d be happy to start from the beginning again. It didn’t take me long to beat the levels and grab the collectables, but the champion’s standard of grabbing the fairies still eludes me

Score: 8.5/10

Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Woblyware
Age Rating: PEGI 7

Heroes Trials / Price: £5.99

What do you get?
A bare-bones, 3D adventure/hack and slash effort. The look and feel appears to be taking cues from The Legend of Zelda but comes off more like one of those PS1 Net Yaroze freebies off a demo disc

Get from A to B and fight monsters along the way. That’s the drill and the message is clear; trim the fat. No side questing or skill trees. No character development, no deep narrative. No stringing attacks together. No reason to press more than a single button. The trimming has gone just a touch too far, leaving little remaining.

If an NPC isn’t going to give you something, there’s no reason to speak to them, as the dialogue rarely provides anything of substance. This is also true of our protagonist duo, Eila and Zoel, both of which have the personality and gusto of a UK politician reading a manifesto. Admittedly this could be a localisation issue, as opposed to a writing issue. The character models themselves are colourful enough and their designs are decent. The NPC models looks the part in this cutesy realm but there’s simply not enough to them.

All this is compounded by the utterly pointless time limit attached to each mission, adding nothing to the experience, simply rushing you along, presumably to mask the fact that there’s not a lot to find, should you stray from the path. There are weak excuses such as ‘you have a sleep spell cast on you’ shoehorned in to justify the countdown, which only serves to get worse when the game later tries even harder to explain why the annoying timer continues within another environment (such as ‘poison makes the timer continue in this cave… but when you leave the cave, the sleep spell comes back…’). Oh, and the timer continues to drop while you’re talking to the lifeless NPCs, too. Thanks.

Once you hit the deadline, you simply slump to the ground before being shown a ‘Game Over’ screen with a retry option that sends you to the start of the mission. There are no checkpoints mid-mission, only save points. If you get lost, waste a couple of mins, then find your way and reach a save point, you then have to decide whether it’s actually worth saving.

Heroes grants a bit of freedom when exploring but it’s rendered a waste of time because of the arbitrary time limit. There’s grass to cut down for health drops and money but there’s little incentive to spend as nothing fundamentally changes the core gameplay.

This far in, one could only assume the game was aimed at a very young crowd. I’d like to think that’s the case, but I simply can’t tell. Accordingly, I enlisted the help of my daughter who, having been mildly interested in hubbub, decided to have a go. It wasn’t long until she was baffled about where to go. There’s a marker on the map to guide you but, on occasion, you will need a dull upgrade to pass through the area, and Heroes Trials makes you run around its stale, uninteresting world with any sign-posting. Momo was not impressed.

Alright, so what about the combat? The two characters under your control can be switched on the fly, Elia is a magic user and Zoel wields a sword and shield. Mashing a single button (strictly no chaining attacks together) allows Zoel to perform a poorly animated arching slash, holding and powering up the attack causes a Link-inspired full-circle slash. The left shoulder button blocks. No dodge, no parry. Elia’s magic is cast in the form of a rapid-fire projectile, with the charged attack shooting in multiple directions. Holding the shoulder button when using magic locks Elia in the direction she’s facing, meaning you can strafe. It’s all functionally sound but really, that’s your lot. Boss end up as simply staying out of range while speed-casting.

Heroes Trials gets points for simply being a functional game with an aesthetic that appealed to my six-year-old daughter. For a bit. The developer’s description of ‘a dynamic and fast-paced adventure game’ is arguably misleading; movement is quick but everything else feels like treading water. Performance holds up perfectly and the general colourful look of the game does enough to draw your attention in the opening moments, at least but there’s nothing more to speak of.

Was it fun?
No, bar the run and gun style of Elia’s rapid-fire spellcasting, though that wear thin within minutes. Hero Trials? Heroes’ Trial? Hero’s Trial? No, Heroes Trials; even the name’s not fun.

In fairness, I do believe if the bloat they sought so hard to avoid was added in and there were more points of interest, there would be a great deal of potential.

Will you play it again?
No. The game is aesthetically and thematically kid-friendly, yet it does nothing to help them along, causing boredom before frustration even had time to take hold. As an adult, I had to search long and hard for the fun, and, unfortunately, there wasn’t much to find

Score: 3.5/10

Publisher: Shinyuden
Developer: Shinyuden
Age Rating: PEGI 7

Pipe Push Paradise / Price: £9.89

What do you get?
A puzzle game that will flex yo’ mind.

You’re an adorable little plumber. Well, sort of; you push pipes to get water flowing. Close enough. Your father was a plumber and the locals are really interested in whether you’re as capable in the field. To which I shrug my shoulders and say, “nay, I do this for fun”.

The dialogue is a cute vehicle for moving from puzzle to puzzle and is in cahoots with the art-style which has a tileset and pastel colour scheme that wouldn’t look out of place in Sonic 3D. The warm beach environment is welcoming and helps to offset the rage-inducing difficulty of some of the puzzles. It gets tough.

Core gameplay involves pushing pipes around in a block-pushing puzzle with slight twists here and there. When pushed from the right angle, some pipes still stand upright meaning you often have to think in three dimensions, perhaps creating an archway as a means of, not only linking the water flow, but creating a means to escape the area.

The control options here are the stuff of dreams. A single button press instantly resets the puzzle, another allows you to revert back to your last move for when your meat hooks fail you and, in a stroke of genius simplicity, there’s a redo button. Undo, redo, restart. Snappy.

Was it fun?
Yes, yes, yes. Pipe Push Paradise can be beat in a couple of hours, but it was enthralling for that time with well thought out puzzles and a challenge that gives you a feeling of accomplishment

Will you play it again?
I will because I can’t remember any of the solutions to the tougher stages

Score: 8/10

Publisher: Digerati
Developer: Corey Martin
Age Rating: PEGI 3

Well, I hope you enjoyed this merry tour of the some of the Switch’s budget range. Keep it at Reggie Reviews for more to the point reviews!

Review copies provided by respective publishers

Advertisements

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.