Nintendo Switch Review: Assault Android Cactus+

Blasting its way to the Nintendo Switch is Assault Android Cactus+, an arena based, multiplayer twin stick shooter with loads of charm and projectiles.

The player starts off Assault Android Cactus+ as the bumbling but well-meaning “Cactus,” a member of the Interplanetary Police Department, as she crashes into a rogue freighter ship known as the “Genki Star”. Throughout the course of the 25 Level campaign, more androids with various weapon types and personalities are unlocked for you to try. Interactions between each android and Boss AI are unique which really help flesh out the android’s personas. The Switch version of Assault Android Cactus+ is brimming with extra features. Apart from the story campaign there is also a Boss Rush, infinite, daily challenge and a Campaign plus mode that gives players a new challenge within the original story. Also included, there are features such as “EX Mode” options that can change game play elements and director commentary.

There is a very basic look to Assault Android Cactus+ that fits its busy play style very well. Enemies are easy to identify and colour coded to denote their threat levels. Arena design gets more complex and dynamic as you progress through the campaign and adds an extra depth to how each level should be approached. At certain points through the game it can feel like a “Bullet Hell” style shooter and with all that action going on at once the frame rate is nice and steady, even in handheld mode.

Thankfully controls in Assault Android Cactus+ are super tight and responsive, making it easy to flick back and forth between enemies. Different androids have varying combinations of weapons for you to try out, from spread shots and lasers as basic weapons to flamethrowers and missile launchers for secondaries. Certain levels will feel easier with specific character’s weapons but the game keeps track of the highest completion rank on the current stage with each android. Getting hit too many times will cause you to die and lose your secondary weapon charge but not actually fail the current stage, which only occurs when your battery depletes. Apart from standard controls with two sticks, there is also a Joy-Con mode which auto aims to the nearest enemy. This is obviously not the best way to play but is a nice addition that lets you show off the game to others without the need to carry around multiple controllers.

Shooting for high scores is loads of fun but if you are after some more in depth progression outside of those then this may not be for you. Fans of twin stick shooters will enjoy Assault Android Cactus+, especially with the help of some friends.

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: Assault Android Cactus+ [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by Stride PR for this review.

 

 

Ape Out – Nintendo Switch Review

Busting its way onto the Switch is Ape Out, a seriously stylish smash ‘em up that gives a new meaning to the term “Ape Escape.”

Ape Out is a top down perspective game with a very deliberate feel to the way it was made. You control a gorilla that must break its way out of a cage and through various scenarios to your freedom. A relative army of humans stand between you and the open jungle. At first glance Ape Out is a game that seems like a rampaging primate power fantasy of breaking ones shackles and escaping. Hidden within its simple art style and jazzy tunes there is an underlying sadness to this tale that is all too real but is never preachy. Every play through is randomly generated and upon every death the world changes so you never know what to expect around the next corner.

Every scenario in Ape Out is presented like a record, with a different colour palette and soundtrack to match. The art style uses basic contrasting colours and is very minimalistic and striking. Enemies are white silhouettes against drab coloured floors and walls that splash with bold crimson upon taking one of them down. Through all of this the soundtrack plays a pivotal role in creating atmosphere. As you burst through glass and guards the soundtrack is always present with an experimental jazz feel. Upon killing an enemy there will be a cymbal crash and an increase in tempo momentarily, upon taking out several guards the soundtrack really reaches full strength. Alternatively, sneaking around will have you hearing the steady beat of a high hat that beautifully builds tension.

Gameplay mechanics are kept deliberately simple, boiling down to simply “push or pull” style controls. You can grab a guard and use him as a shield or throw him at another guard, wall or even through a window. There are also multiple scenarios that offer different mechanics based on the location that they are set in, from a science lab to a sky scraper. Every Run is timed and at the end the amount of deaths are given. There is also a “Harder” mode for those that like the extra challenge and an Arcade mode that gives you a score based on time and kills.

Ape Out is a beautifully designed little game with lots of care put into it. Although it may feel a little short, it is definitely worth your time. You’d be bananas not to try it!

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: Ape Out [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by POWER UP PR for this review.

 

 

OlliOlli Switch Stance – Nintendo Switch Review

Kickflipping their way onto the Nintendo Switch is OlliOlli and OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood in the new collection OlliOlli Switch Stance.

Much like the multitude of skateboarding games that have come before it, OlliOlli Switch Stance is all about racking up multipliers and high scores. Unlike its predecessors though, OlliOlli Switch Stance is a 2D side-on skateboarding game with a very simplified art style. Each run has a mix of 5 specific point, or objective- based challenges to be completed. To proceed the player only has to make it to the end of the run without bailing. Along with the standard levels there is a “Daily Grind” mode in both games and other additional challenges including multiplayer in OlliOlli 2.

Both games in OlliOlli Switch Stance have similar yet different visual styles. OlliOlli has a pixel art style with levels that span a multitude of urban environments. Whereas OlliOlli 2 has an updated yet equally clean 2D style that takes place on and around movie sets. The very simplistic art style works in favour of the quick gameplay, most notably in OlliOlli 2 where jumps and grinds stand out. The soundtrack in OlliOlli Switch Stance is very much the opposite, being purposefully subdued yet still catchy and suits the games perfectly.

The controls are what will really set this series apart from other skateboarding games that most players are familiar with. Everything from jumps to flips to grinds are all accomplished using the left analogue stick. By holding, rotating and finally releasing the stick, players can carry out a multitude of tricks to build up their score. What really makes the game technical is the timing required when carrying out every action, including landing. Starting up OlliOlli Switch Stance, the player is warned that “OlliOlli is a super-fast game” and this is no understatement. Pulling off a lengthy series of chained tricks can all be rendered moot by the act of a “Sloppy” landing. Retrying stages over and
over is almost a necessity but snappy menus and instant restarts mean there is no waiting between rounds and you can get straight into the action.

OlliOlli Switch Stance plants itself perfectly on the Nintendo Switch, whether you want to knock out a quick run or chase high scores. The technical and precise nature of these controls may be a little off putting to some but others will find it incredibly enjoyable and rewarding.

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: OlliOlli Switch Stance [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by POWER UP PR for this review.

 

 

VR Review: Singularity 5

Review By Alexisms

Let’s start from the beginning, Singularity 5 is a virtual reality (VR) wave shooter for Oculus, Vive and Windows Mixed Reality. Using motion controls, I donned my Oculus to immerse myself in all things Singularity 5!

The year is 2050, you are tasked with stopping an AI uprising in Paris through five levels of quickly escalating difficulty. The game opens within an open lift travelling towards the surface. You start with a couple of very stylish pistols which give you a tiny glimpse of the graphic extravaganza to come. You first face some fairly simple static robot enemies which throw grenades which need to be battered away before they explode. They also create these shards of red veined rocks which again you must smash or will explode.

Once the surface is reached, the graphics of the city are mind-blowingly fantastic – with a kind of techno Gothic vibe. Sometimes in VR games the backgrounds can be quite muddy and indistinct but here they are very clear and beautiful using well contrasting colours of white, gold and black along with occasional neon. Of course, visuals doth not just make a game, so the music and sound effects are just as impressive and add to the whole atmosphere.

In normal mode, the difficulty soon ramps up and by level three I had to reduce it to (the recently introduced) easy mode but even then I was unable to get to level four and five. It should be noted that you can select the later levels from the menu so you won’t be left just playing half a game.

The enemies are pretty much all robots. These range from the static type lobbing grenades to robots on rolling wheels that speed directly towards you before exploding. The really hard ones are the larger robots that fire a laser straight at your head so you will have to physically move out of the way (which is so damn cool). You’ll be doing this whilst facing other robots, batting away grenades and smashing rock shards. The frenetic pace to stay alive in the game feels like a high pressure cooker – one little slip and you’re dead!

To help in your quest you have the aforementioned twin pistols. You later obtain grenade guns and machine guns. Thankfully, all these guns have infinite ammo, but do need to be constantly reloaded. You can also throw grenades but I could never get them to do anything but roll weakly towards the enemies.

In conclusion, if you love wave shooters you could do a lot worse than Singularity 5. But be warned, you’ll be sternly challenged. It may only have five levels, but if you’re a high score addict there’s plenty of scope for replayability with multiple kills increasing your combo meter. Go and grab your VR headset and check out Singularity 5.

image source: Singularity 5

Disclosure: Singularity 5 VR  was kindly provided by PR Hound for this review.

Nintendo Switch Review – YIIK: A Postmodern RPG

Face the impending millennium in YIIK: A Postmodern RPG from ACKK Studios. Not just a new approach to RPGs but a whole other dimension!

Unlike any RPG I have played, YIIK: A Postmodern RPG (pronounced Y2K) is an interesting take on a well-trodden genre. You play as Alex, an entitled 20 something that stumbles on a mystery bigger than him or his bachelor’s degree. The game takes place in a small town called “Frankton” in the year 1999, a very unassuming place for a mystery of these proportions. You will team up with old school friends, arcade employees, pacifists and more on your journey.

The story in YIIK loves throwing curve balls at the player and will have you constantly questioning what is going on, drawing you further into the plot. Even though YIIK looks rather quirky it also delves fairly deep into themes such as the metaphysical, depression and anxiety. Don’t fret though as the game is full of humour, subtle pop culture jokes and references. YIIK pokes fun at cartoon characters, internet culture and a certain JRPG series on multiple occasions very effectively.

The soundtrack in YIIK has an amazing blend of music including chiptune, electronic, jazz and arty pieces. All of the tracks are extremely catchy, I found myself humming along to them while playing and even when I wasn’t. The art style is fantastic and suits the gameplay and story to a tee. Lush colours and striking visuals help bring YIIK to life and flesh out this seemingly ordinary world. YIIK captures a perfect sense of 90s nostalgia, from the birth of the internet subculture, POGs and payphones. The in game online message board “ONISM1999” plays a major role in advancing the story and giving hints on side quests and secrets.

The little details make the biggest impact even in battle as you will fight rodents, bats, rogue stop signs with Vinyl records, Keytars and Hula-hoops. The battle mechanics in YIIK are a fantastic combination of standard RPG elements and quirky quick time events that make you feel far more responsible for every action in battles. Long gone are random die rolls and mashing through standard RPG battle menus. In YIIK you contribute to every action from attacking to defending yourself in carefully timed action sequences.

Having clocked almost 30 hours, to tell too much of what makes YIIK so very charming and special would ruin the impact of seeing it first hand for yourself. If you love a good solid RPG, great story and long for the 90s then YIIK is the perfect game for you!

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: YIIK: A Postmodern RPG [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by Stride PR for this review.

 

 

Review: Atari Flashback Classics – Nintendo Switch

Up until recently Nintendo Switch owners had to watch and endure their contemporary console friends get their Atari classic gaming fix. Well, this is no longer the case!

The Atari Flashback Classics compilation is a collection of 150 Atari favourites for the Nintendo Switch. Taking full advantage of the Switch features, like vertical / TATE orientation (for compatible games), Switch owners now have lots to gloat about to their other console brethren. Let’s just say this straight off the bat – this compilation is choc-full of the legendary publisher’s iconic library of games, with titles from the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 home consoles, along with former Atari coin-op/arcade exclusives.

Of course we were always going to play Atari’s seminal arcade titles first! Well, the scrollable 11 page games menu had the arcade titles first, so it made the choice easier. If there is one gripe here, we just wish that that you could customise the games menu. Anyway, it was game on with Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Pong and Tempest (to start with), and boy, they did not disappoint! These classic Atari arcade games are perfectly converted on the Nintendo Switch, with impeccable controls (each game has a pop control area showing which map buttons to the correspond Switch controls). We also love the bezel artwork, which gives that authentic arcade feeling.

Speaking of artwork, the home console games (Atari 2600 and 5200) get their full box art on the menu and also come with their respective full manual. Some (not all) game manual scans are tad blurry, but it’s still a great example of conservation that helps turn this release into an almost museum-like archive.


source: Atari

Atari Flashback Classics has a slew of features, including a local achievements system, leaderboards and a local (up to four players) and online (two players) multiplayer. These features were designed to bring players together, just like back in the day – a neat little touch.

This massive library of classic Atari 2600, Atari 5200 and Atari arcade games is perfect for those Switch owners craving for a one-stop shop to play old school Atari games either at home or on the go. If you want a fix of classic Atari gaming on your Switch, then grab the Atari Flashback Classics now.

Disclosure: Atari Flashback Classics [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by UberStrategist for this review.

 

Review: Solar Flux – Nintendo Switch

Save some suns in Solar Flux, the latest Switch release from Firebrand games. A unique and challenging puzzler that feels a bit out of place on the Switch.

Solar Flux is an interesting little puzzle game that follows the age old premise “Easy to learn, difficult to master.” You control a ship that collects plasma to shoot into dying suns, saving them in the process. Each level is ranked by either time taken, shields depleted or fuel used. You are then given a ranking out of 3 stars depending on how well you perform. The game itself can be quite tricky but once you get that “Ah ha” moment getting at least one star is quite manageable. The real challenge comes from trying to get a perfect 3 stars in each level.

Listening to the sparse soundtrack and simple audio cues give the game a nice relaxing atmosphere. This really helps to create a sense of isolation in each level. Visuals are nicely contrasted, making each object clearly visible and easily recognised. Overall the look of Solar Flux is very minimal which works in its favour as a puzzle game. Level design can range from twitch reflex or timing based puzzles to pure patience and precision puzzles. Solar Flux’s level and puzzle design certainly make it well suited for some quick pick up and play sessions.

When it comes to controls, Solar flux is a mixed bag. Playing in docked mode the game uses twin stick style controls for thrusting and firing plasma. These controls feel nice and tight, making the game responsive and rewarding. Playing in handheld mode the game defaults to touch only controls, which seems very strange. The touch screen controls do feel fine but a few controls simply don’t work or feel finicky. If you are anything like me, touch screen controls are not exactly first choice when it comes to the Switch.

Solar Flux is a well-designed puzzle game that will have you hunting perfect runs and challenging friends. Puzzle fans will get some real enjoyment out of it at home but may want to give it a miss as an “On the go” title.

Developer: Firebrand Games
Publisher: Firebrand Games
Release Date: December 11, 2018

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: Solar Flux [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by HomeRun PR for this review.