Melbits World (Switch): COMPLETED!

Bought on a whim because it was $1 as a download voucher from Target a while back, I really wasn’t sure what sort of game this was. From videos, it seemed to be much like Captain Toad, but in fact it’s just the graphical style and isometric view that it shares with that.

What it actually is, is something closer to old Game and Watch titles like Mario’s Cement Factory, crossed with Lemmings, only in multiplayer and 3D. You have to activate or move blocks, conveyor belts, lifts and springs in order to get as many of your four Melbits creatures to the exit, making sure they don’t fall off the world or get killed by the wandering baddies.

We played in three player mode, so on each level each of us was responsible for a number of these objects, making co-operation something of a task. It felt a bit like Overcooked, only with more important timing.

It’s pretty short, at just three worlds with nine levels in each, but it was fun while it lastest. And yeah, it was a dollar.

Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

And that’s the pair of them. I’d never played this sequel before, but it turned out to be just as good as the first game. There have been a few quality of life tweaks, such as not needing to choose which challenges to do before you do them – now they act more like normal achievements – and some of the upgrades upgrade themselves as you use them, rather than need improved versions synthesising.

The gameplay is the same as before, although it felt a lot easier. Perhaps that’s partly down to me using “prevasion” (a shield-like technique) properly for the duration this time, instead of just at the end like I did before. Graphically, it’s a little better too, with big improvements on the interstitial screens which look like they had higher resolution art to work from rather than just upscale the 3DS original images.

There’s still a lot of chat.

The big change though, is that there’s a whole second story to play through with a different character with his own set of skills. Copen, one of the characters from Gunvolt 1 (and called Akira by the Japanese voice actors!) is out to take down the bad guys and Gunvolt (who although good, is an “adept” like the baddies, and Copen/Akira wants to kill them all), as well as rescue his sister. He has a laser not a gun, which can constantly fire, and instead of tagging baddies with his shots like Gunvolt does, he has to tag them by dashing into them. He also collects special weapons from each boss, each of which is especially good against one other boss – so actually, Copen plays a lot more like Mega Man.

This guy talks in memes and emoticons a lot.

Copen’s levels aren’t all the same as Gunvolt’s either. It reminded me of playing Sonic 3 & Knuckles as Knuckles, because you cross paths with Gunvolt (rather than Sonic), have mostly the same bosses but have to defeat them in a different way, have some totally different levels, and have some levels that are the same but you take a different route through.

Anyway, I’ve completed the game as Gunvolt, but can’t get the “true ending” until I’ve beaten it with Copen, it seems, and I’ve not got very far in with him yet.

Bury Me My Love (Switch): COMPLETED!

Bury Me My Love is an interactive story, told through the medium of phone text messages, about a Syrian refugee called Nour trying to reach somewhere safe in Europe. You’re her husband, Majd, and you have to offer advice and support as she gets turned away from transport, borders and hotels, followed, trapped in refugee camps, left with nowhere to sleep, and potentially killed on the way.

It’s based on real life experiences, and it’s a powerful story. Along the way, Nour was harrased by neo-Nazis in Greece, nearly got blown up by landmines, narrowly avoided being injured by teargas in a camp, and witnessed a number of deaths of her fellow refugees.

There are a number of endings (I don’t know how many, but I expect it’s a fair few) based on your decisions. Mine ended up with her being arrested in Zagreb for trying to turn in some ID papers she’d stolen on the spur of the moment but I’d convinced her to drop off at a police station.

The rabbit came from a child who didn’t make a border crossing…

WarioWare Gold (3DS): COMPLETED!

Well that was the easiest WarioWare game ever. I’m not knocking it, as it was great, but I don’t think I failed more than a handful of times and it seemed a lot shorter.

Yes, there are loads of things to unlock and there’s high scores to chase and stuff, but to finish story mode was a walkover.

Azure Striker Gunvolt (Switch): COMPLETED!

Not that long ago (FIVE YEARS?! WHAT) I played, enjoyed and beat the 3DS version of this. I purposefully didn’t look back at what I wrote back then until just before writing this, and a few things surprised me.

Firstly, I never did get the good ending last time. This time, I did! Secondly, I had difficulties in all different places this time. For example, the “fire boss” was a walkover before, but he was one of the difficult ones this time. The final (for the bad ending) boss was much harder than I remember too. Some of these issues might be because I don’t think I knew about Gunvolt’s Prevasion skill last time around. It lets you use your shield power bar instead of your energy bar for attacks, essentially making you invincible so long as you don’t use your flashfield.

Maximum Spider.

The transition to the Switch is a double-edged one. Yes, it’s great to have it on there, and in the twin pack with the sequel (which I’d previously never played) is a bonus too. But, the graphics – when blown up to what, eight times the resolution – aren’t quite so good looking. Not having the touch screen trigger for special attacks is a pain too, as instead they’re activated with a direction of the right stick and I frequently pushed up instead of left by mistake! But these are minor things really as the game is still fantastic.

Getting the good ending meant beating an extra boss, who wasn’t too difficult once I’d figured out how. And with it done, I can move on to Azure Striker Gunvolt 2!

Level 50 and a Good Ending clear save!

Whipseey and the Lost Atlas (Switch): COMPLETED!

With a passing glance, Whipseey looks an awful lot like a Kirby game. In fact, even holding your eye for a time, it still looks an awful lot like a Kirby game. It also sounds not dissimilar to a Kirby game. But it is not a clone of a Kirby game.

In fact, it plays a bit more like the old Castlevania games, albeit with cute Kirby/not Kirby graphics and music. This is due to your main character, who has been turned into Not Kirby, having a whip with which to both attack and swing on. No sucking.

Whip it. Whip it good.

There are just five short levels, although they each have a number of areas and a variety of increasingly difficult to deal with challenges, with a boss before you move on to the next. It’s barely an hour long, but it isn’t a walkover, as you only have five lives and if you lose them, you have to start the whole level again. Getting to the boss only to die and have to restart the level is a very 1980s way of gaming, but managing to get to the boss without dying at all gives you a nice wave of achievement.

Aside from the shortness, the only other real issue is the collision detection can be somewhat suspect, especially when it comes to one-hit-kill spikes. Just give them a wider than you need berth and they’re not so bad.

These spikes make this one of the trickier screens, not least because of the collision detection.

On the Switch, Whipseey and the Lost Atlas is normally about a fiver which, for the length and lack of replayability (once it’s done it’s done) is a little steep. However, it’s half that at the moment and it’s cute and fun enough to warrant a purchase at that price.

Mom Hid My Game! (Switch): COMPLETED!

Despite the hideous title, I’d seen this on the eShop frequently and thought it was silly enough to buy when I saw it cheap enough. And then it was cheap enough, so, well, here we are.

It’s a hidden object game, only there’s only really one hidden object on each level – your Generic Handheld Gaming Device – which your mum has placed somewhere. You can rarely just pick it up, though, as there are things to avoid clicking on (otherwise you hurt yourself or your mum catches you) and puzzles to solve to get there. It’s not really taxing, but it is very, very silly.

In this level, you have to distract your sister.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is very much a return to the first game, rather than the multiple small mansion structure of the 3DS second game in the series. Not that the second game was bad, but it works better as one big mansion. Or rather, one big hotel as it is here.

Each floor is themed, with a boss ghost that fits into that theme, and the aim is to beat the bosses to get the lift buttons to allow you to reach new floors. There are a few diversions along the way, Polterkitty being one and a main irritation as she steals a button and you have to chase her around the hotel for reasons of artificially lengthening the game. If you remember, the original Luigi’s Mansion was purposefully short, with Nintendo explaining that’s how people prefer their games, so it’s a little odd to do this.

One of the floors is a nightclub.

Another diversion is when you have to navigate the lower basement, complete with the worst control scheme and associated boss in the game. Moving your inflatable duck around in order to avoid spikes and mines is incredibly fiddly and frustrating, and is definitely the worst bit of the game.

But those two things are pretty much all I can say that’s negative. The rest is a joy from start to finish, with gorgeous visuals in that way only Nintendo can create, pleasing to solve puzzles, humorous events and characters, and the best selection of in-game toilets I’ve seen in a very long time. After I’d cleared about three floors I realised there was in-game co-op too – not just the same sort of multiplayer modes from the 3DS games. This meant I could play the whole of the rest of the game with my daughter, and it was great!

Best toilets ever. You can even hoover up the toilet roll.

Diablo III (Switch): COMPLETED!

My favourite Diablo game is Heroes of Ruin on the 3DS. This is mainly because it’s my only previously played Diablo game. Of course, Heroes of Ruin isn’t really a Diablo game, because having Diablo on a handheld device would be ridiculous. UNTIL NOW.

Well, until about a year or more ago when Diablo III came out for the Switch. I wanted it, but I always seemed to have other games on the go and kept forgetting to pick it up when I saw it cheap, but now I have it and oh my is it good.

I mean, sure, it’s just loads of very similar levels fighting very similar foes, just watching your stats go up as you gain levels and obtain better loot, but there’s something very moreish about that sort of gameplay loop. I can see why people get hooked on the likes of Borderlands or Destiny for the same reason, and of course it’s a staple of JRPGs, of which I’m a fan anyway.

As an action game, it’s a lot more hectic than a JRPG, but I didn’t find the story mode (which is what I’ve completed here, just to be clear – I’m aware there’s a lot more game to spend time on past that) in the least bit taxing. I don’t even recall my health ever dropping, in fact, let alone actually die. But that didn’t matter. I enjoyed ploughing through thousands of baddies regardless, marvelling at how well the game runs on the Switch. I know it’s a PS3 game too, but the swiftness of (in fact, the almost complete absence of) loading and rock-solid framerate was just lovely.

Discoloured (iOS): COMPLETED!

I had no knowledge of what this game was going to be like, but from the screenshots I anticipated a narrative discovery game, hopefully with one or more toilets. Sadly, there were no toilets.

But I was mostly right about the narrative discovery bit. Discoloured is a first person puzzle game, although the puzzles require discovery more than logic. You are transported to a 50s style diner, but everything is in black and white. By finding and activating red, green and blue prisms, you put colour back into the world, but to do so involves looking at and activating everything, not always with obvious reason.

There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as certain items and switches only appear or are useable when the correct prisms are enabled (or disabled), which is tiresome despite the very small area the game occupies. It’s all over pretty quickly, though.

It’s interesting but there’s no plot or story to follow, and the puzzles aren’t really the sort to give you any sense of achievement, and so coupled with the short length of the game I was just left with a thought of “is that it?”.

Marble It Up: Mayhem! (iOS): COMPLETED!

I was a big fan of Marble Blast Ultra on the Xbox 360, and this, apparently by the same team, coming to Apple Arcade was great… until I tried to play it and found it totally impossible to control with a touch screen. Then I realised I could use my 8bitdo controller with my iPad and, despite having to balance the system precariously on my lap, it actually worked well. Well enough to complete, even.

So the game isn’t as good as Marble Blast Ultra. I’m not sure what’s missing, but the levels all seem really easy and a bit bland. Perhaps the fun I had with the “original” was trying to beat friends’ times on the leaderboard and that’s not what I’m trying here, but I’m also not wanting to, so there’s still some spark not there.

That said, I did enjoy it. Except for that one level – called Escalation, I think – which I spent longer trying to complete one single jump on than I spent on the whole of the rest of the game combined. There’s a high platform you have to reach and you have to get a jump power up and then normal jump and immediately boost jump to get the height needed. Problem is, the timing is near impossible and until I did it by mistake there was no way of knowing if I was even doing the level correctly. Eventually I fluked it only to fall down higher up, triggering an earlier checkpoint on the way down, and then had to do it again.

Milkmaid of the Milky Way (Switch): COMPLETED!

Imagine if Another World was a point-and-click adventure game about a milkmaid in space, and all the dialogue was in rhyming couplets. Well, that’s Milkmaid of the Milky Way.

It’s only a couple of hours long, but tells the story of how a struggling milkmaid has her cows abducted by aliens (as aliens are wont to do) one night and then manages to get aboard their spaceship to try and rescue them.

My milkbeasts bring all the boys to the biodome

The puzzles are mostly straightforward, with the exception of the final one which felt a lot like “try everything on everything in case it works”, and it told an interesting story with a couple of twists. I really enjoyed it!

One Strike (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’ll probably take longer to read this post than it took me to complete the game. One Strike is a one-on-one fighting game with the sort of graphics early Game Boy Advance games had, with colour palettes to suit the very dark GBA screen. Games like Castlevania: Circle of the Moon looked hideous when blown up on a big TV via an emulator, and so does One Strike.

As the name suggests, you need to strike your opponent just once to kill them. It’s basically one-hit-kill Samurai Shodown.

My eyes!

And, with only about 8 opponents, it doesn’t take long to simply press dash-dash-attack your way through them all.

I’m glad the game was free because I’d certainly never pay money for something this shallow, short, and offensive to my eyes. Perhaps in two player mode there’s more strategy, but I won’t be playing it again to find out.

Wattam (PS4): COMPLETED!

From the possibly damaged brain of the guy who brought you the beautiful nonsense that was Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, is Wattam. Presumably it is called Wattam because when you see it for the first time, you say “what? erm”.

The plot is that everything has exploded and gone away and you, as a lonely square mayor has to bring everything back. And you do this by making trees eat your friends and turning them into fruit, by making everyone cry using an onion, and by getting a disembodied mouth to eat everyone, turn them into poos, then you flush those poos in a toilet (which you control) and then they turn into gold poos and then you have to stack the gold poos on top of each other so they’re as tall as a giant bowling pin, then you plant an acorn and everyone holds hands and then you take your hat off and explode..

Just in case it wasn’t baffling enough, some of the characters speak Korean, Russian and Japanese.

That’s right. The game makes even less sense than Noby Noby Boy and Katamari.

It has clunky controls and a clunky camera just like its predecessors, it has bizarre music like its predecessors, and against all odds the weirdness actually means it’s a lot of fun, also like its predecessors.

Yeah, it’s yet another one of those games where you have to control giant face parts and assemble them on a giant face while the giant face runs around and you have to find various ways to fight it, including throwing tobiko sushi babies at it. A crowded genre, for sure.

Lego Builder’s Journey (iOS): COMPLETED!

What a lovely little game this turned out to be. It’s these tiny little Lego dioramas each with a little puzzle in – get you little lego boy to the other side of the screen, or make machinery do something, or build a thing in a certain way.

It isn’t difficult, although one of the puzzles introduced a new gimmick which I completely missed so it stumped me for a while, but it’s clever and looks incredible and if you have Apple Arcade already (as against all odds, I do) then it’s free and a wonderful thing I strongly suggest you play.

This screen involves building a path for your skateboard.