The Touryst: Just perfect for the Nintendo Switch

Until late last year, I had no idea The Touryst, a cute little game from German developer Shin’en Multimedia, existed.

I first heard about the game when I watched an analysis about the from Digital Foundry, which not only marveled at its pixellated graphical style (which kind of has a Minecraft feel to it) but it pretty much played at a locked 60 frames per second.

Perfect for the Nintendo Switch, The Touryst is an adventure puzzle game where our little hero has to unlock  secrets through mission that will take him to a variety of islands that hide secrets in their ancient monuments: One of them is full of shops and a cinema, the other is a party place with flashing lights bouncing off golden sands, on another rains all the time, one of them has a beautiful surf beach ready to test your skills.

You play as an unnamed tourist who has plans to visit the idyllic islands to relax and recuperate but finds something much, much deeper as he searches island to island, uncovered the secrets of a long lost civilisation.

The game’s art style evokes old school games of the late 80s with their pixelated graphics but they’re a real modern twist to them. They pop on the Nintendo’s screen, too, and the islands themselves are full of minute details and interesting characters: There’s the couple looking for suggestions for great holiday destinations. There’s a fitness fanatic who challenges you to a chin up contest. There’s an art gallery curator wanting you to take photos of interesting things for his next exhibition. There’s the DJ who wants you to expand his record collection.

Each monument has a core which will lead you closer to the secrets of the islands and each monument has a boss battle, or sorts, which will reveal the core when defeated. The Touryst is a surprisingly relaxing game where you can deep sea dive, take photos of people and places and paddle canoes one moment, then take on strange rock creatures guarding the monuments the next.

I have had a blast playing The Touryst. Visually, it’s a delight (running at 1080p in docked mode and 720p in portable mode) and the game play is captivating enough to keep you interested, but it’s not perfect: Some of the jumping puzzles are downright frustrating at times, often hampered by the restricted camera when in tight confines.

The Touryst was a real sleeper hit for me and well worth the $19 it cost. It’s a game that is perfectly suited to the Switch’s format and just the ticket for relaxed gaming sessions when all you want to do is play something a little bit special.

And you know what? The Touryst could be my sleeper hit of the year of 2019, alongside A Plague Tale Innocence.

The Witcher on Switch: What is this magic?

I have to admit I was sceptical when I first heard that CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher Wild Hunt was coming to Nintendo’s hybrid console.

Well, colour me surprised and intrigued as it’s on the Switch and by all accounts, isn’t too bad, at least if this hands-on from Digital Foundry is anything to go by.

And if that analysis isn’t enough, BandaiNamco has released a 40+minute gameplay overview featuring commentary from CDPR community manager Paweł Burza and senior quest designer Paweł Sasko, Senior Quest Designer about Wild Hunt and the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions.

Go have a watch.

The Witcher Wild Hunt releases on Nintendo Switch in October. 

My Friend, Pedro review: bloody acrobatics & a sentient banana [Nintendo Switch]

If I can make one suggestion when you fire up Deadtoast Entertainment’s side-scrolling shooter My Friend Pedro, it’s this: Do so wearing a decent set of headphones as it has a soundtrack that your ears will thank you for.

Based on an Adult Swim Flash game, My Friend, Pedro, the sound track is driving and relentless and fits perfectly into the on-screen carnage as you (our hero) shoot, pirouette and tumble your way through a 2.5D world, goaded on by … a talking banana. Yes, you read that right: A sentient, talking banana. That banana is Pedro and he offers advice on what to do.

My Friend, Pedro is described by publisher Devolver Digital in its marketing as a “violent bloody ballet about friendship and imagination” and it’s the perfect description: A twin-stick shooter, the game delights in slow motion acrobatics (think Max Payne’s bullet time) as you bound off walls and catapult off weighted doors, kicking 10-gallon drums (and eventually body parts) into foes & dodging automated turrets as bullets fly and heads explode in clouds of of red mist – all punctuated by that marvelous soundtrack (notable pieces are being Requium for Rose & Junkyard King).

This is a game that celebrates forward momentum, too, rewarding you with inventive moves and speed – then scoring you at the end. Every now and then an image of Pedro’s face (actually, do banana’s have faces?) will subliminally flash onto the screen: If Pedro’s smiling, he likes what he sees. If he’s frowning, he’s not impressed so you’d better do better.

My Friend, Pedro is also the sort of game that is perfect for the Switch’s portability and one that you can play in bite-sized chunks when you’ve got a bit of spare time in the evenings, thanks to the size of the levels, but the controls did take a bit of getting used to, as I felt I had to contort my fingers at times to do pull off some manouevers.

Devolver Digital is impressing me more and more with its support of quirky, indie titles [another excellent title is BroForce, which also plays perfectly on the Nintendo Switch]  and with My Friend, Pedro, Devolver has another winner on its hands.

The stupidity that is the Nintendo e-shop’s regionalisation

This is a rant about idiocy.

Idiocy from either Nintendo or from THQ Nordic. I’m not sure which company – it could be both of them, to be honest – but it’s idiotic, nonetheless.

Recently, THQ Nordic released the remastered version of its third-person action game Darksiders on the Nintendo Switch: The Darksiders Warmastered Edition. I was interested in buying it as not only was it, in my humble opinion, the best game in the Darksiders series, last week Digital Foundry did a rather nice video covering how the game has both a performance mode (which locks the frame rate at 60FPS but drops the visuals slightly) and a graphics mode (which caps the frame rate at 30FPS but looks prettier).

“That sounds like a bit of me,” I said to myself this week. I hadn’t bought a game for my Nintendo Switch in some time, and I did like the original Darksiders. So, I went looking on the New Zealand e-shop for Darksiders Warmastered edition. Nothing. Nada. Zip. It wasn’t there.

I was confused. The game was released on April 2. Maybe it had just been delayed. So I searched for it again: Nope. It wasn’t there.

So, I asked the helpful Twitters and was told by one of my Australian chums (Dylan Burns) that it was on the Australian e-shop for $49.95 but he would check with one of his Aussie chums (Daniel Vuckovic), who was knowledgeable in all things Nintendo (he runs vooks.net, no less) on what the situation was. It seemed it was a bit of a mystery.

Vooks looked into it and this is what he said (in Twitter form):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, enough, I clicked on the NZ e-shop link and got this:

I clicked on the Aus e-shop link and got this:

This is just idiotic, Nintendo and THQ Nordic. How does this sort of ridiculous situation come about?

Seriously, though, how does such an idiotic thing happen? How is that Australia is three hours away from New Zealand by plane, yet I can’t download Darksiders Warmastered Edition????  Some states in Australia take longer to fly to than it does to New Zealand, yet they haven’t been penalised.

New Zealand and Australia are lumped into the same region by video game publishers all the time yet here we are with a mind-bogging situation like this where one country is penalised over the other.

Does Nintendo and THQ Nordic think so little of Switch owners in New Zealand that they won’t release the game in our e-shop? Probably, to be honest. I really don’t think either of them give a shit about little ole’ NZ. It’s just a smack in the face for Nintendo Switch owners in New Zealand [NZ doesn’t even have a distributor of Nintendo product: Everything has to come from Australia].

I was quite happy to pony up and pay for Darksiders Warmastered Edition because it looked like a good port, but you know what? I’m not going to now, just out of principle. And not even selling a physical version? It’s as if THQ Nordic don’t actually want people to buy the remastered version of its game on a portable platform, especially in Australasia.

Sure, I could buy it from another e-shop but, frankly, why the hell should I? Why should I give either company my money when they show disregard to the country I live in? [Apparently, the first two Darksiders are free on Xbox Gold, too, so that’s another reason not to spend my money on the Nintendo Switch version.]

So much for living in a connected world where there are no boundaries …

 

Katamari Damacy Re-roll: Craziness ramped up to 11!

Think of the craziest game you’ve every played – then quaduple it: That’s Katamari Damacy Re-roll, the very definition of Japanese crazy ideas at its finest.

The Katamari Damacy series first graced the PS2 waaaaaay back in 2004 and even back then, it was a large scoop of whacky mixed with a side order of “WTF?” While the game spawned a few sequels over the years, it’s now available on Nintendo’s Switch console – and it’s a perfect fit for the device.

The story is simple enough: A tiny prince must rebuilt the stars, constellations and moons that his wayward King father, The King of All Cosmos, destroyed when he decided to go on a drinking binge. Crazy, right?

To make his father happy, the prince is tasked with rolling a small, adhesive ball – called a katamari – around locations on Earth, collecting pretty much as much as he can  – people, animals, pins, balls, dominoes, playing cards, people, even mountains – until the ball is big enough to become a new star in the sky.

The story is as bizzare as the game play, with the prince having to rotate and guide the katamari around earthly locations, slowly growing bigger and bigger until the King of All Cosmos deems it big enough to become a star.

Adding to the pressure of creating more stars is the fact the tiny prince is often under a time limit to reach a certain size katamari ie 10cm, 15cm, meaning the prince will have to often sprint around the location, adhering more and more objects to said katamari. You have to be careful, though, as banging into some items will knock objects off the katamari, reducing its size. Yes, it’s as off-the-wall as it sounds.

Katamari Damacy Re-roll is a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch, as each location is perfect for bite-sized gaming sessions if you only have a few minutes to play. Visually, it looks nice, with a colour palette of bright colours and a graphical style that is as far from realistic as you can imagine.

The controls worked well enough, although it took a while to get used to flicking the analogue sticks in the right direction to give a speed boost to the katamari, something that is vital to master and is crucial in helping pick up objects faster when you’re against the clock!

The music is catchy enough, with a kind of bouncy note to it, and an at times bombastic theme tune, but the voice of the King will get on your nerves after a while. That said, it’s in keeping with the game’s off-the-wall aspect and you can always do what I did: Turn the volume down a little.

Overally, Katamari Damacy Re-roll is perfect for the Nintendo Switch, especially if you’re after something that definitely doesn’t take itself seriously and is something so mind-bendingly weird that you can’t help but smile, something especially apt during what is now commonly called the Silly Season.

A big thank you to Bandai Namco’s Australia PR man for providing a review code for Katamari Damacy Re-roll.

Figment review: Battling the thoughts in your head

Figment, a puzzle/platformer for Finish indie developer Bedtime Digital Games for the Nintendo Switch, reminds me a lot of a children’s story book, with its whimsical artwork and fairy tale locations, except it’s set within the human mind with all sorts of weird shit going on.

Seriously, though, for most of the game the environments are like something you’d find in Alice in Wonderland, with teapots for houses, flowers made out of stringed instruments and white fluffy clouds providing a peaceful backdrop, things are more sinister than they seem at first in this fairy tale land, populated with memories, thoughts and urges and home to the voices in our head.

When Dusty (the game opens with him relaxing in a rocking chair, dreaming of ice for his drink) finds the nasty figments of the imagination have invaded the world, causing chaos, he must save the day. Accompanied by ever-optimistic bird Piper, Dusty must battle his way through a variety of dangers to, well, save the day.

The sumptuous visuals are the first thing that will attract your attention with Figment: They’re said by the developers to be hand-drawn, and by golly, does it look gorgeous, with an art style that belies the undertones of what Bedtime has called a “musical action adventure”.

The second thing that you’ll be captivated with is the wonderful voice acting which at times is delightfully over-the-top, and the musical score: Both are just delightful, with the score supposedly “defined by your exploration of the world”, which means that it adapts to how you react with the world: Move closer to the cello-like flowers and the strings sing, wander closer to a tuba-looking tree and the music takes a more brass band-like tone. It’s delightful and really adds a nice personal touch to the game.

The puzzles won’t cause you to have a brain haemorrhage, ranging from things like tracking down the handle that will turn the windmill that will blow away the nasty black fog and finding the right colour battery that will power the windmill to finding the missing pieces of a brass band bridge that will let you cross to another part of the world. Combat generally involves Dusty whacking unspeakable horrors with his sword or knocking back projectiles from said unspeakable horrors.

Figment is a delight to play, both visually and the way that the sound reacts to the player’s movement through the game world, and it’s further proof that games from small independent developers are a perfect fit for Nintendo’s console.

Remember how I commented last week on the great year that Nintendo was having?  Well, Figment is further proof of that.

Thanks to Bedtime for providing a digital code for Figment

Bite-sized review: Little Nightmares Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Little Nightmares Compete Edition (Version reviewed: Nintendo Switch, review code kindly  provided by Bandai Namco)

What is it? Little Nightmares Complete is a side-scrolling  horror/puzzle game from indie game developer Tarsier Studios that tells the tale of a mysterious girl called Six who must negotiate a vessel called the Maw through three story chapters: The Depths, The Hideaway and The Residence. This complete edition also includes  all the DLC that was released for the game, including the story of The Kid (a second playable character) and the Secret of the Maw expansion storyline. Little Nightmares can best be compared to games like Limbo or Inside as all three games have a creepy, unsettling undertone to them that might just well have you having nightmares yourself.

The Janitor in search mode. Time for Six to hide.

So, it’s a horror. Is it scary? Well, it’s not blood and guts scary, but it’s more creepy, uncomfortable scary, with nightmarish creatures inhabiting the Maw, doing unspeakable things. The game succeeds in creating a tense atmosphere that’s unsettling at times. Making things more uncomfortable are the Maw’s creepy residents, which often force Six (and The Kid) into a game of hide and seek as they skulk around quietly, careful not to draw the attention of the grotesque beasts such as The Janitor, who has incredibly long arms and bandages wrapped around his eyes, or The Lady, the proprietor of The Maw who just seems a little … not quite right.

This is Six exploring The Maw. Quite unsettling, isn’t it?

Is there anything else I need to know about? Little Nightmare’s does a great job of creating tension and has a great visual style, which is really suited to the Switch but the experience is marred a little by the long loading times after you die, and you will die a lot, thanks to at-times-clumsy controls and at times hard-to-judge jump puzzles. The game is also quite dark visually when played in portable mode but holds up well when played in docked mode. Both run at 720p, 30 frames a second.

So, what did you think overall? Tarsier Studios does an excellent job in creating a macabre and creepy narrative with a nice twist in that one of the lead characters turns out to be more than she initially appears. If you’re a fan of games that create creepy tension in unsettling environments, then Little Nightmares is worth a look but just be prepared for some frustrating jump puzzles and long load times between deaths.

Thanks to Bandai Namco for the review code