The very first games I got to play at Gamescom 2018 this year where a few Nintendo Switch titles, each coming out soon. Here are some of my impressions:
Super Mario Party (release: 5 october 2018)
While we didn’t get to play a traditional round of Mario Party with a board to move around on (the sessions would take too long) I did get to play some minigames against another member of the press and two of the Benelux PR reps. The four player set-up did immediately bring one of the Switch’s major selling points to the table: buying a single unit already allows for two players to enjoy some local multiplayer through the included joycons.
In our run, we played the following minigames:
Rolling around with a ball through towards a finish line, trying hit as many boost-pads (speeding up) as possible and trying to avoid hitting patches of grass that slow you down or falling off bridges going over water. To control your character you simply tilt the joycon forward and use it to steer. I was happy to come in first.
The next mini-game was one where we had to run away from enemies through a side-scrolling maze. You had to quickly pick between a top path and a bottom path and one of them randomly had obstacles to slow you down. I kept alternating between top & bottom and ended up first again.
After this came the one I liked the most from Nintendo’s own Direct showing: flipping a steak so it’s cooked on each side. The motion controls are rather accurate and the rumble feature lets you know when one side is done. If memory serves me right I came in second here, so my head start was diminishing a bit.
Then came the dreaded cycling mini-game where you have to quickly rotate your joycon as if you’re pedaling a bike with your hands. I tried a one-handed approach thinking it would be faster but I only came in second again. My lead was barely noticeable now, but I was still ranked first!
Lastly, we entered a square arena with rugby players trying to tackle us. You had to be the last one standing but I lost my three lives in almost no time flat and was first to be kicked out. Rick (Nintendo PR) ended up winning the gold medal. A deserved victory!
Monster Boy and the cursed kingdom (Release: 31 October 2018)
While I haven’t yet gotten around to playing the first Monster Boy, I was intrigued by its premise: remastering an 1989 SEGA game and totally changing its art-style to a hand-drawn one yet allowing players to switch back to the old pixelated graphics whenever they feel like it.
From what I’ve seen and played, they dropped this unique gimmick in the sequel. But fret not: the game is still very much worth playing. It’s a solid 2D platformer with a very charming artstyle and Metroidvania like progression. I’m sure the story will often be an afterthought but let’s be honest; we don’t usually play this kind of games for the gripping dialogs. The gameplay is solid and it always feels rewarding to find a hidding treasure chest though.
Throughout the game it will often seem like your progression is blocked, but that usually just means you have to switch characters or find the right equipment. From my own gameplay session: I had to equip heavy booths to sink in water and walk on the bottom, hold up a shield to reflect projectiles or learn how to shoot fireballs to get past thornbushes.
I was really fond of the smooth gameplay and it was addictive to keep going but I find a comfortable quitting point after beating the first boss.
I felt like I hadn’t quite mastered all the available moves yet, but even still I ended up with a pile of calamares ahead of me. I appreciate it when a game eases you in and I’m sure it will become more challenging near the end. My experience with Monster Boy was a positive one and I’ll be purchasing the previous game the second I get home from Gamescom!
Dark Souls Remastered (Release: 19 October 2018)
I didn’t play Dark Souls all that long, but I really felt like there wasn’t a need: This is Dark Souls exactly the way you remember it, but on the Switch. The Remastered part of its title probably means the least on a console that can’t churn out 4K graphics, but being able to play this one the go more than makes up for it.
While the first Dark Souls usually didn’t allow for brief playsessions and that still remains true from what I’ve heard (bonfires are still in the same locations) the ability to put the Switch in sleep mode should cover that concern.
I was dropped into the game where a previous player had obviously punched out: right in front of the Asylum demon, the first boss in the game. I wasn’t crazy enough to try and beat it with just the hilt of a sword and knew from my Xbox 360 playthrough where to go and how to quickly beat him to a pulp.
Having great games in a portable version can really warrant a second visit, even for people who 100% completed the initial version. One possible concern perhaps, could be the dark graphics: if you’re playing in an area that is too lit it could be hard to make out what’s happening on the screen. Turn up the brightness a bit and remember to darken the room and you should be fine though. Enjoy dying a million times!