April in the Nintendo eShop
One of the great things about modern console gaming is the huge number of independent titles available to play at a much lower price than their AAA brethren. So while it’s great to play the Zeldas and Animal Crossings of this world, some of the best experiences come from playing those little-known games that are hiding in the eShop.
Every month, we at Ultimate Gaming Paradise are going to do some of the hard work for you—sifting through some new titles and seeing what is (and isn’t) worth playing.
Let’s look at some of the many titles that joined the eShop this April.
Get Ogre It
Game Type: Puzzle / Adventure / Pseudo-RPG
Studio: Croix Apps
Date: 16th Apr 2021
Price : £10.79
There’s nothing more frustrating than a game that you simply don’t understand on your first few tries. Get Ogre It has one of the worst ‘tutorials’ of all time, a meaningless waste of time that ends up baffling and confusing.
Part of that is because Get Ogre It tells you it’s a ‘roguelike’ game, and it really isn’t. It’s a puzzle game. But, when you start to understand what you have to do, it’s a fun puzzle game.
You play a little green ogre who, in a very Shrek-like way, changes from green ogre to pink human and back again every eight moves. When you are an ogre, the other monsters love you and leave you alone, but the knights and soldiers will attack. When you are a human, the situation is reversed. The game, then, is to move across the map with absolutely no combat skills, tactically shifting about so that you are green around monsters and pink around humans.
That’s really all there is to it. Somehow, though, in this straightforward concept, there’s a lot of engaging gameplay. The story mode has four swift levels followed by a boss fight (yup! Work that out for yourself when you get there…), but there’s an endless dungeon crawl version that just lets you see how long you can survive.
Get Ogre It has retro-style 8-bit graphics and a fun little old-school tune to go with it, which makes it quite charming, and though the beginning of the game can be off-putting until you work out what’s going on, it actually ends up being really fun. Maybe a little pricey, though.
Game Type: Arcade Shooter
Studio: OP Team / Freedom! Games
Date: 15th Apr 2021
Price : £11.29
There is no doubt that a lot of work went into Godstrike. It’s smooth, fast, and has some interesting concepts, not the least of which is the idea of using time as your health bar, sucking off seconds when you get hit in a way that’s reminiscent of playing old arcade racing games.
Indie games are often a way to see game designers as they hone their craft, and for all the polished brilliance of Godstrike, it is possible to see some apprentice designer mistakes here. Simply put, the game is WAY too hard.
The first fight you have, straight out of the box, is a three-stage boss fight with a huge badguy named (somewhat ironically) Tutoriaal. This lulls you into thinking you are playing some sort of learning level, but this guy pulls no punches. After a solid thirty minutes of attempts (about 6-8 goes), the system asked me if I wanted to switch to easy mode, and I was all too eager. Half an hour later, I still hadn’t beaten this guy. It’s that tough.
It is great to have hard games. Some of the best games out there are punishing, but the very first fight being this difficult? It’s poor design and a learning curve that’s simply too steep for most of the audience.
There’s a huge amount that Godstrike teases. Jump out of the story mode and into the arena mode and you can see all the upgrades that will come your way (they are many and varied). The controls are smooth, the graphics are great, and the fights are frenetic. If the difficulty curve was just a little better considered, this would be a top-scoring game.
As it is, Godstrike is for arcade experts only; the kind of players that have lightning-fast reactions, a keen eye for patterns, and don’t mind being punished while they learn.
Game Type: Arcade
Studio: Pix Arts
Date: 17th Apr 2021
Price : £3.99 (currently on sale for £2.99)
The blurb for Archery Blast promises “an ultra-realistic archery experience with stunning 3D graphics”. Hmm…
The truth is that Archery Blast is a bit crap. As you hold the bow, it drifts around, which would be fine if it wasn’t on the Switch. With so much talk recently about hardware drift problems on the Joy-Cons, the first thing that comes to mind is a concerning “are my controllers broken?”. The drift is far from realistic unless you are the kind of archer who doesn’t have the arm strength to hold up your bow and, if so, maybe archery isn’t for you.
The graphics are so-so, neither good nor bad, the sound is instantly forgettable, and the game itself is, well, a bit boring.
Personally, I love archery and archery in games. The problem with Archery Blast is that it’s very cut back—for example, there’s no wind to account for—and feels more like a mobile game that you might play for ten minutes rather than something worth investing in for your Switch.
It’s cheap, which is in its favour. Still, if you like playing with a bow and arrow, you’d be better off buying A Breath of the Wild and just spending a little time away from the main questing practising your low-tech sniper skills there; it’s a significantly better experience, and you get a whole Zelda game tagged on for free!
If you can’t afford the flagship Nintendo title, and really, really, really, have a hankering for some virtual bow and arrow action, then you could give Archery Blast a go. In all other cases, this one is probably a miss, the digital equivalent of a couple of sticks and a bit of string.
Game Type: Platformer
Studio: Game Nacional
Date: 10th Apr 2021
Price : £6.99
.cat is a basic platformer where you control a cat (no surprises there) on a seemingly endless run through some retro-style graphics. The controls are insanely simple, with one joystick and a jump button, and there’s nothing in terms of depth here whatsoever, yet, somehow, I had fun.
There’s no hiding the fact that this is not a well-developed game. The level design is basic and shows little forethought or planning, the enemies and obstacles are either other little animals (mice and snakes etc.) which need a Mario-style jump-on-head to get rid of but are otherwise strangely deadly (since when did a cat die from a mouse running into it?), and then there’re lava pits and circular saw blades to avoid. That’s about it, all on a long stretch of late-1980s platforming flatness.
.cat is another example of a very amateur game that really is little more than a demonstration of some basic game programming skills. If it was still 1989 and I was looking for something cheap to entertain me on my Amiga, I might see .cat as worth a few hours of my time, but neither of those things is true, and with the wide variety of titles available for the Switch, including some of the best platformers of all time, .cat will struggle to get any sort of audience.
It’s nice to see that you don’t die from falling, though; I wondered if that was a nod towards the idea that cats always fall on their feet or just lazy programming. Either way, it was appreciated.
Game Type: Multiplayer Card Game
Studio: Exploding Kittens, Inc.
Date: 15th Apr 2021
Price : £8.09
Exploding Kittens is a somewhat famous card game, though it was one I’d never played. With a lot of card games translating well to console, I was keen to see what Exploding Kittens had to offer.
I was not disappointed.
The interface is nicely developed, and the game quickly teaches you how to play with a light touch of humour. Humour is what this game is all about and is the main feature of the traditional card version of the game.
The idea is fairly simple; you draw cards from a deck, hoping not to pick up the exploding kitten card. If you do, then you better have something to deal with it immediately, or you lose the game. The other cards help you manipulate the deck and force your opponents to do things in order to ensure they pick up the exploding kitten and you don’t. On the way, you’ll see cards like the Kitten Banjo with a cute picture of a cat enjoying his instrument, or the Cattermelon, a round green cat who forces an opponent to give you a card. It’s nicely amusing, quick to understand, and subtly deep in its gameplay.
On the Switch version of the game, you have three main choices:
- To play with friends
- To play with strangers
- To play alone (vs. an AI opponent)
The game is best with other people, but if you want to go online, you need to have a paid membership to Nintendo Switch Online. Once you do, however, the game opens up and becomes an engaging time sink. Somewhere around the world, there’s always someone willing to have a go, meaning you are never left waiting too long.
Playing the offline solo mode is also a lot of fun, though, and the opponents have a little life of their own, crying when things go wrong and smiling when they’re happy. There are three levels of difficulty and a range of different card decks to pick from, both helping to provide longevity.
Exploding Kittens manages to be genuinely funny while also being genuinely fun. It has been nicely coded, with both touch screen and button controls to suit your preference, and does a great job of bringing a physical card game to the console—definitely one for the library.
Indie Titles Everywhere
Nintendo is doing a great job supporting indie titles for the Switch and had an Indie World Showcase earlier in the month, showing some of the exciting titles coming to the platform. Take a look at the video from the event for more indie fun to come.