Original date: December 1, 2017
The Nintendo Switch has seen a fair amount of mobile game ports make it to the eShop in some form. Every time there is one, there would always be some sort of change-up to make sure the game is optimized for the console. VOEZ, for example, costs $25, but it gets rid of any microtransactions, instead opting for free updates. Piczle Lines DX does the same thing, too; for what it’s worth, it charges up-front so you don’t have to worry about paying for anything else in the game after that. Even titles like Kid Tripp and Squareboy vs. Bulliesat least utilize the Switch’s controllers for actual buttons instead of opting for virtual touch-screen ones.
Unfortunately, MUJO is a new release that doesn’t appear to be getting the memo. A free-to-play title on mobile devices, MUJO was released on Switch to much controversy since it is now the second game on the console to take advantage of microtransactions. If you want to gain upgrades to speed up the game’s absurdly slow progression pacing, you would have to fork over real money. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it was still free-to-play on Switch (Then again, we may have just grown numb to the idea the mobile market is scummy), but MUJO’s Switch version comes with a $9.99 price tag despite that presence of microtransactions. On top of that, the game isn’t optimized properly, as the game’s interface only takes up 1/3 of the screen. Unlike Namco Museum or other arcade releases on Switch, you can’t change it so the interface takes up more of the screen. It’s a straight port, right down to the extra incentives to get people to spend more money on it. If you really want to experience MUJO, just play it on mobile and you’ll get the same exact game.
Original date: December 12, 2017
A little while ago, I took a look at Green Game: Timeswapper for the Nintendo Switch. I thought it was a decent, inexpensive game that has a neat style to it. It wasn’t too long after its release that it was announced Red Game Without a Great Name would also arrive to the platform. This is actually the predecessor to Green Game, but you probably wouldn’t know by the Switch releases alone. Red Game was released in late 2015, and Green Game came around months later.
The little story there appears to be is roughly the same as it was last time. A scientist flings a mechanical bird into the air to make it go through a bunch of mazes and collect stuff. That’s about it.
Red Game also carries the same visual style as Green Game, except now the backgrounds are…well, mostly red. It cheats a bit by having some other color come into the scenery every now and then, but you will otherwise be looking at a black and red game. The style itself has cool silhouettes and fluid animation; yet, I feel like something is off. I sometimes struggle trying to distinguish the sharp wires and safer walls, and the graphics seem to be darker than I would have liked; I had to turn the lights off in the room to look at the game better. Is it just me? I don’t think it is; I didn’t have these issues when covering Green Game, after all.
Red Game‘s music is jazzy, and I applaud it for it. I can’t say I remember the melodies when coming out of the experience, but they fit the nightly visuals in a fine fashion. It also seems to go with the moderately kinetic pace the game keeps itself in. There isn’t much in the way of sound effects, but I’m sure you’d hear the sound of the bird dying a whole lot.
This game is controlled entirely via the touchscreen, for better or worse. Red Game is composed of sixty bite-sized auto-scrolling levels where you have to make sure the bird makes it across unharmed by any obstacles. You use the touchscreen to have the bird teleport to any area you direct it to. The game works in theory, but the execution leaves some things to be desired. I forgave Green Game‘s sensitiveness on account of that you could hold down your finger on the screen to be a little more precise.
Here, you constantly have to hop your finger around; it’s tedious in itself, and the level design sometimes fails to sync up properly with your actions. You might already teleport to a dangerous area before a safer one shows up as the screen scrolls, or you could careen right into hazards right before you’re about to make a move. And if you try thinking twice, you’ll die in the midst of doing die. That is pretty much the problem with Red Game: It doesn’t give the player enough control over his or her actions. Don’t even get me started on the collectibles; those by themselves serve as a collection of do-or-die situations I couldn’t be bothered with.
That isn’t to say it’s necessarily a bad game. It can still be fun to fight through the levels and reach the end of it all, and the price is as easy to swallow as last time. It’s just a shame its potential to be a very enjoyable arcade-style title is downplayed by rather shoddy design choices.
Original date: December 13, 2017
In a time where 3D gaming was not yet in the cards for developers and publishers, they would often try to instead utilize the technique of isometric perspectives. As much of a novelty as it probably was back then, I have to wonder: Was it really something worth fondly remembering? I know I wasn’t even born in the era, but in a day and age where what was unobtainable then is now the norm, what is the appeal of the isometric view in these adventure games? Nostalgia sounds about right; in that case, Lumo is a title that’s born out of nostalgia for isometric games.
One day, a person walks into what appears to be a small-scale gaming convention. After finding an active computer playing an old-looking video game, it suddenly sucks in the person and turns him or her into the video game character. It is now up to the person to escape this virtual fantasy labyrinth. I feel like this could have been just fine without the whole “person gets sucked into video game” trope, but I don’t suppose it matters in the long run.
What you see is what you get for the majority of Lumo. It starts out with a colorful, but primitive look that is quickly never seen again until the very end of the game. What you’ll often see is a dark, mysterious look that has just the right kind of atmosphere to suit the encouragement to explore. However, one can expect to miss a lot of jumps due to the isometric sensibility the game boasts. What could be above you could actually be next to you; paying attention to shadows and other clues is the key to recognizing positions of important objects. This is why I don’t understand Lumo‘s attempt to bring this back as if it was something from the past fans of the era clamored for. It’s not to say you can’t adjust to it, but what I’m saying is there shouldn’t have to be a process to do so at all.
Still, Lumo does have the atmosphere down. The audio mostly consists of ambiances that grow a little more upbeat depending on if something more dynamic is happening. Easily my favorite moment was when an elevator had its own dedicated music, and it was never used again. I would be more bothered by that inconsistency if Lumo didn’t decide to stray from its usual structure every now and then, adding to its surreal nature.
The objective is to collect four important objects lost in a long, elaborate maze filled with hazards and platforms. Get all the objects and the game is done. There are two different ways Lumo can be played; the first is a standard mode with infinite lives and a save feature, the second has a time limit, finite lives, and is basically what you would pick if you hate yourself. You can probably guess which mode I decided to go with. One thing I am thankful for is the fact that there are different control types you can pick from. In case you hate yourself even more, you can choose diagonal control schemes that make you move up-left or something if you press Up. Naturally, I chose the control scheme that correctly identifies my analog input.
Anyway, Lumo has a very interesting design to it. The maze as a whole is ripe for discovery, and sections within can keep you on your toes in in enjoyable fashions. There is also a solid emphasis on puzzle-solving; while aren’t challenging per se, it’s rewarding to get through them nevertheless. It gets you thinking just enough to make you feel victorious. This also applies to finding your way around areas within the maze, reflecting on the sense of adventure conveyed by the atmosphere. As much as I feel like the isometric sensibilities interfere with platforming moments and the like, I do think they were otherwise executed finely enough. Not quite as executed well are the hidden mini-games; they just seem unpolished, and probably would have been better off as 2D games in the style of 80s arcade titles.
Nevertheless, Lumo gets a recommendation from me. The isometric intentions are questionable, but not a deal-breaker. Maybe some will even find charm to that. All I can say is Lumo is a good puzzle-platformer that crams its confined design with elements that engage and reward. It’s another worthy addition to the ever-expanding Nintendo Switch library.
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