eShop Explore 016

eShop Explore 016

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Tired of combing the eShop for good games? Find out what’s worth playing and what you may want to avoid in eShop Explore! More episodes.

SNK 40th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION

SNK, the company behind the powerhouse Neo Geo Arcade and Home systems, has been the force behind some of the most recognizable games outside of Nintendo. Metal Slug, King of Fighters, and  Samurai Shodown are all legendary series. Digging through SNK’s early catalog, however, and you might find some surprises and old friends that you didn’t realize were SNK titles. This collection combines some fantastic games spanning many genres, lovingly converted from sometimes unique arcade controls to the modern era, and, in many cases, including multiple versions of each game. It’s truly a museum to SNK, and the collection has been bolstered by additional downloadable titles post-release.

One needs to look no further than Frank Cifaldi’s involvement in this project to realize it’s a fantastic compilation. The conversion of Ikari Warriors, for example, from an optical rotary joystick to a twin-stick modern control scheme is seamless, and, to be frank, better in many respects. The inclusion of some more offbeat NES titles like Alpha Mission and Crystalis is a welcome marker that this compilation is a celebration of all of SNK’s work, not just the arcade games. There’s a lot to love here, from the massive library of art and design documents in the museum, to some really fantastic classic (and now rare) arcade games like Prehistoric Isle, P.O.W., and Psycho Soldier. If you like arcade games, or are a fan of SNK, you owe it to yourself to explore their foundations with this fantastic collection.

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – NIS America
Developer – Digital Eclipse
Price – $39.99
Genre – Arcade, Action, Adventure
Size – 1.2GB

 


Grim Fandango Remastered

Do you yearn for the days of simpler times? A time where you’d grab your mouse and keyboard, boot up a PC game and be filled with anticipation at just seeing that LucasArts logo? Well, look no further: Grim Fandango is considered by many to be one of the pinnacles of the graphical adventure genre. This port has been expertly updated to the modern era, with many of the graphical assets redrawn in high definition. Grim Fandango’s noir take on the Land of the Dead is LucasArts at their peak, and the game’s puzzles are still challenging, the humor still hilariously offbeat, and the gameplay still classic.

Grim Fandango is a must-buy if you’ve ever enjoyed a point and click adventure game. This restoration (and it truly was, the dev team had to dig deep to locate missing game code from old employees and recreate some assets that had been lost) is top notch, and while the backgrounds could have definitely been given some more love, the look aged very well. What may not have aged as well for the general populace is the genre itself. Classic adventure games do not hold your hand, and Grim Fandango is no exception. It’s hilarious and enjoyable, but brutally obtuse at times. If you’re interested in exploring the game, definitely have a walkthrough at hand to prevent frustration, but absolutely try to figure things out first. These games, while from a different era of gaming, are really unique and rewarding experiences, and if you ever decide to give one a chance, Grim Fandango should be it.

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Double Fine Productions
Developer – Double Fine
Price – $14.99
Genre – Adventure
Size – 4.6GB

 


Psyvariar Delta

Shoot ‘em ups (shmups) have received a lot of new love this generation, and Psyvariar Delta is no exception. A port of the classic Pyvariar Revision, a vertically-scrolling arcade game from 2000, this gorgeous, challenging game has a few unique features. First is the ability to constantly roll, which changes the spread of your attack and increases movement speed. Second, the really notable system: BUZZ. This allows you to more quickly gain experience points from being grazed by enemy projectiles. When you level up, your ship becomes temporarily invincible, allowing you to physically plow through enemies, or BUZZ more to try and continue to ramp up the level of your ship. It’s an intense risk/reward system that sets this game apart from its peers.

Pysvariar Delta is one of those shmups that makes you play by its rules. If you enter the game trying to play it like Mars Matrix or Progear, you’re going to have a bad time. I think it’s much more similar to Ikaruga in concept (if not execution), where once you figure the system out, something clicks and you can slice through enemies, levels and bosses like a lightsaber through butter. The game is gorgeous, controls like a dream, and the boss battles are epic. Psyvariar Delta is definitely a bullet-hell shmup, but the BUZZ system allows for a wider margin of error, and thus makes this a great entry point for someone new to the genre, or an old hand looking for something new. It’s a solid game and worth a look.

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Dispatch Games
Developer – City Connection
Price – $29.99
Genre – Action, Arcade, Shooter
Size – 486MB

 


Dragon’s Lair Trilogy

Dragon’s Lair was a phenomenon in its time. A playable animated cartoon with quality on par with feature films? It was unprecedented. This collection brings together three titles from the mind of the legendary Don Bluth: Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace, and Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp. These games are unique mainstays of 1980’s arcades, and seeing them brought into the modern era is a true treat. The animation is timeless, the voice-acting excellent, and the conversion to modern display is flawless.

What isn’t flawless are the games themselves. The Dragon’s Lair titles were true trial and error quarter-munchers in their day and some of the most frustrating games on the floor in the local arcade. There is absolutely no indication given of what you need to do, or the timing for movement or action. Once you start to get into the rhythm, it’s possible to make slow progress, but it’s still extremely clunky (inherently, it’s not a fault of the conversions) and maddening. The optional onscreen hint guides that have been added allow the player to progress easily, but that really defeats the point. You’d get as much enjoyment of watching a playthrough of these games as you would playing them, and indeed, an automated playthrough is included. A successful run will look exactly the same each time, due to it being a string of animated sequences, and not a true “game” as we’ve come to know it. Unless you’re a long time fan, skip this one. 

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Digital Leisure Inc.
Developer – Digital Leisure
Price – $19.99
Genre – Arcade, Adventure, Action
Size – 6.9GB

 


Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

Trine, an aesthetically unique visual feast of a series, premiered originally in 2009, and has been steadily releasing compelling action platformer titles since. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, follows this trend, with visuals that look like you’ve fallen into a Thomas Kinkade painting in the best way. The controls are responsive, the setting charming, the writing is way better than it has any right to be in a platformer, and the puzzle elements provide just the right amount of challenge. Trine 4 continues the well established traditions of the series, and is an enjoyable return to form after the excellent in-universe, Diablo-esque spin-off, Nine Parchments

Trine 4 is no exception to the amazingly fun and simple gameplay of the series. The characters control easily, have a great variety of moves, and each have a specialty that keys them to certain situations and puzzles. You can freely swap between each avatar after a brief intro level, and this switching is an essential part of many of the puzzles and fights. The music is atmospheric and beautiful, and the art style, well, if you’ve read my previous review of Nine Parchments, you know how I feel about this aesthetic. It’s stunning, few games exist that are this beautiful. Trine 4 is, at its core, a traditional puzzle/action/platformer, but the setting, the art style, the music, and the atmosphere elevate it to an amazing experience that can’t be missed.

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Modus Games
Developer – FrozenByte
Price – $29.99
Genre – Adventure, Platfomer, Multiplayer, Indie, Puzzle
Size – 2.9GB

 

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