Category Archives: Nintendo Switch

Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star Review (Nintendo Switch)

Full Disclaimer here, I have no idea what the Fate series is. As a complete non-anime fan, it’s with some trepidation that I enter games like this, fully aware that I’m not going to be getting everything out of it that other people would be, so if you’re a fan of the series, try to find a review by another fan of the series. This is really just for people who are into games and are thinking about giving this a shot on the Switch.

Fate/Extella is basically Dynasty Warriors sped up in an anime world. It’s much brighter, much faster, and somehow more ridiculous than Dynasty Warriors, but once the novelty of all of that wears off, you’ll find it’s very much the same game. You roam around a map made up of different shaped arenas joined by corridors fighting off hordes of enemies (and I really do mean hordes), trying to win each zone over for your sides until you have enough to take on the boss.

In between all of this there’s plenty of different characters, weapons, loot, special items and skills to find, but loot definitely isn’t the focus of this as it is in something like Earth Defence Force, instead your focus is purely on killing as much as possible as quickly as possible.

The enemies frequently number in the hundreds are for the most part look absolutely identical to each other within a level, other than the mini bosses and bosses. So you unleash all hell on these legions of identikit troops through a flurry of spins, swipes, and magic, until you’re ready/able to take on the bigger enemies.

Frustratingly there’s no lock on for the smaller bosses so the speed actually works against you, but for the most part you are a vaguely controlled whirling dervish slicing through enemies while only pressing two buttons. At first it feels like you’re not really in control at all – there’s a spectacle to be sure as you slice you way through enemies, getting combos into the early hundreds without knowing what’s going on, but on the harder difficulties you do need to get to grips with which moves to use when, usually boiling down to do you want to restore health, get away, or cause damage. That risk/reward strategy is engaging, but only really present on the harder difficulties. On lower difficulties every fight plays out the same, simply tapping buttons to kill enough troops until you’re done and can get on with the story.

The story is told like a visual novel, with lots of static images and text and the occasional choice thrown in to spice things up a bit. This is where I was hopelessly out of my depth. I had no idea what was going on and quickly resorted to skipping everything that I could (which, thankfully, is pretty much everything). Looking up the series online, it looks like it started off as an erotic anime, which isn’t surprisingly considering some of the costumes you can wear, but also doesn’t bode well for the quality of the storytelling.

After a while I realised I was rushing through the fights to progress with the story, then skipping the story to get back to the fights. Everything is so repetitive it’s hard to work out exactly where the fun is. The levels aren’t even that quick so it’s not like you can quickly plough through one when you’ve got 5 minutes with your Switch.

If you’re into the anime, I’m sure there’s a lot to like here, and if you’re into Dynasty Warriors but want something quicker and more colourful, this is exactly that – but for the average gamer, there’s nothing that’s going to impress you or change your mind about this sort of game. It’s a crazy Japanese grindfest with character designs that will put you off playing this in public.

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Mr. Shifty Review (PC)

Mr Shifty is much, much easier than its clear inspiration, Hotline Miami. Thanks to your ridiculously overpowered ability,  there’s only a couple of rooms in the whole game that gave me any problems. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with some serious power tripping in video games.

If you’ve seen X-Men 2, you can understand the main innovation in Mr. Shifty, you can teleport just like Nightcrawler. Your bamfing is even accompanied with a little puff of smoke, and you can do it five times in quick succession before it needs a few seconds to recharge. With this ability you can charge headfirst into full rooms of enemies, all pointing machine guns at you, and dispatch them all before they know what’s happened. Bamf. Punch. Bamf. Punch. and so on. Over the course of the game you also find a variety of melee and thrown weapons that can help you out like a broom, a metal pipe, a shield, and even a trident.

The whole game only took us just under three hours to beat, but that was in three sittings and we loved every second of it. Levels are short and most stages introduce some kind of new mechanic like new enemies or traps. The levels ramp up just after they’ve introduced a new idea so, for example, when you first find proximity mines you have all the time in the world to figure out what sets them off and the fact you can pick them up and throw them once they’re activated. Within a couple of levels you’re sprinting at full pelt through a minefield, grabbing one, teleporting through a wall into a room full of enemies, throwing it on to someone’s chest, teleporting back in to the room that just exploded and watching the enemies disintegrate. Moves like this are surprisingly common in the game.

The whole thing is played from the top down perspective, similar to Hotline Miami, but it doesn’t have the same visual style. The animations are quick and sometimes impressive, and the fact that bodies will stay on the floor even when you return to an area is a nice touch, but it’s not a spectacular game and you’ll be hard pushed to remember anything about what even the main character looks like once you’re done.

Everything from the music to the dialogue is incredibly generic for a video game, I think on purpose, and this gives it a certain blandness which is unfortunate when the main mechanic of the game is so engaging.

If you’ve got a spare afternoon and £10 free, Mr Shifty is definitely a worthwhile play. It might not be a classic but we really hope we see this mechanic return for more games.

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Super Bomberman R Review (Nintendo Switch)

Super Bomberman R might be the first game I’ve ever reviewed where I feel like the police should probably get involved. This game is a crime and should be avoided at all costs.

First some context, after our Switch was delivered on Friday alongside Zelda I took a trip down to Sainsbury’s on a console-launch-day whim to get some more games. I wanted something multiplayer so I decided on 1-2 Switch and Super Bomberman R. 1-2 Switch is already overpriced at £34.99 (it should have been included with the console) but Super Bomberman R was £44.99. When I saw that price tag something strange happened in my brain, I came to the conclusion that somehow price and quality were linked. I thought the single-player campaign must be substantial to warrant that price tag. I thought that the online and local multiplayer must be at the very least a competent ‘best-of’ from the many iterations in the series. I was very very wrong.

Launching into local multiplayer with my wife, we were immediately struck with the distinct lack of options. You choose the basics like the number of lives etc, then you choose an arena (from a selection that looks poorer than the SNES version), then your bomberperson. The bomberpeople are all given strange superficial characters so there’s the noble white one (I’m sure someone could write an angry Tumblr post about that), the arrogant black one, the violent red one, the sleepy blue one etc. They have no real personality beyond their single trait and this is demonstrated by their singular facial expression and annoying voice clips before and after matches.

Launching into our first game, it was hard to understand how this game came to be. Visually it looks about on par with the N64 version, albeit at a higher resolution (what looked to my amateur eye like 720p) but the background behind the maps is like a horrible stretched 2D image and the arena, although built out of 3d polygonal blocks, is made up of stretched and repeated textures. Imagine what a Bomberman game would look like if an 11 year old learning to code decided to make an Android port for phones from 2013. It looks worse than that.

Once the game began we realised the ugliness is more than skin deep. The framerate is atrocious, running at an aspirational 30fps that it usually falls well short of during important moments (like when bombs are going off). This really does have a significant impact on gameplay and is what makes this version impossible to recommend over its predecessors. This isn’t just the worst Switch game, it’s the worst Bomberman game I’ve ever played.

In desperation I turned to the online multiplayer, thinking somehow local play was just broken, but the online multiplayer is the same, with lag on top of it. Every time you finish a game you are kicked back into matchmaking (no finding a lobby to stay with all evening) and the only kind of progression you get is based on gaining points in a linear fashion to move you up through the leagues. You start in Baby League B and if you win a game, you get some points towards moving up. If you lose, you don’t lose any points, you just get nothing.

The single player campaign is a similar disappointment. Wrapped in an offensively terrible Saturday morning cartoon wrapper with poorly animated cutscenes, the game is split into six sets of levels (we assume, we only completed the first set) followed by two boss fights. The levels themselves take place in barely-modified arenas and you are tasked with either killing all of the enemies or pressing a number of switches. There’s no AI to speak of, the enemies just move in a semi-predictable fashion, with the randomness being present just to make sure this game doesn’t have any value as a puzzler. Instead you just do the same thing over and over, putting bombs down to trap enemies, until you’ve killed them all. Do that a handful of times and you get to fight the first boss, an evil bomberman who has some kind of special power. The first one has magnet bombs that technically are attracted to you, but you barely even notice because your own bombs stop them. This mechanic didn’t change the fight at all, and instead it was just a matter of playing until the AI got itself stuck near one of your bombs (or one of its own). After that there was an almost-interesting boss fight in an open arena against a giant spider robot. Even though the arena was open your bombs still fired off in a grid, so you had to place bombs to take out its legs while avoiding getting killed yourself.

If you do get killed in the campaign, you simply restart the level, until you are out of lives. If you run out of lives you can continue with a new set of lives if you spend 300 of whatever the currency you get is. This currency can also be spent on cosmetic items (things to go on your head that all look like they were lifted from a poundshop Nintendogs catalogue) and is earned painfully slowly through online multiplayer matches. Hopefully you’ve immediately realised the problem that should have occurred to Konami. If say, a child, wants to progress through the campaign and dies a lot (perfectly reasonably thanks to the input lag caused by the unstable framerate), they can’t continue until they grind out enough credits through the online multiplayer. The multiplayer that is terrible and will be locked behind a paywall for Nintendo’s online service in Autumn. It’s like they tried to ruin this game.

This is without a doubt the worst game I have ever reviewed. It’s a complete scam and represents all of the worst things about the gaming industry. It’s a cash in to take advantage of nostalgia and the weak launch lineup priced far too aggressively with zero creative ideas or technical prowess. This game is an abomination and Konami should feel bad.

 

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