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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Indie B-Sides Review #002

Welcome to the latest edition of the Indie B-Sides Review series, where we take a look at some of the many great indie games available on the Nintendo Switch!

Escape from the Universe (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Steven Green

Developer: CAT-astrophe Games

Publisher: CAT-astrophe Games

Category: Arcade SHMUP

Release Date: 8.16.2019

Price: $9.99

Earth has been destroyed, and humankind is making a go of survival, but not doing very well at it. It is up to you as a skilled pilot to help where you can, as well as trying to ultimately escape from this universe to try to find a meaningful life outside of the constant alien battling and survival that has become the everyday in this world. Escape from the Universe is a classic arcade style title with a modern shoot ‘em up take. You have several new systems and mechanics that have been layered onto a genre that is tried and true, and that brings a lot of excitement and innovation to a genre that can be fairly stale at times today.

The basic gameplay loop for this title is exactly what you would expect from a game like this: avoid enemies and spam-shoot your gun in order to destroy enemies before they shoot you first. Luckily, this game adds onto that mechanic with a ton of depth. You have ship upgrades, a quest system, and the ability to exit your ship and take the fight to the aliens on foot. This is brought on even further with the strategy element brought on with the gameplay style in this one. You don’t always want to just spam your gun, as sometimes hanging tight and avoiding obstacles can be your best friend. Decisions made in this one through the quests bring meaning to the basic fetch-quest style.

A beautiful art style and pumping soundtrack bring all of this together to make for a pleasant little package with a bright bow ready to play for hours and hours. You have computer-based graphics with lots of flat graphics and color schemes that match up with straight lines and a design that reminds me of a DOS-based computer system in style. A very pretty, yet simple experience. I am usually not one for SHMUPS, but this one was a good experience. I still am not really fond of the genre, and arcade titles as a whole don’t tickle my fancy, but this game is a little different. Gameplay is classic, but the packaging it comes with is altogether unique. Definitely recommended for anyone who likes shoot ‘em ups, as it may be a game-changer for you, as well as for anyone who doesn’t like arcade titles like me and wants to find something that brings more to the table. Try it out!

Score: 8/10

Buy Escape From the Universe from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow CAT-astrophe Games

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*Review code was provided for review purposes.

Frederic: Resurrection of Music (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B Developer: Forever Entertainment Publisher: Forever Entertainment Category: Music, Rhythm, Arcade Release Date: 12.21.17 Price: $5.99

This game makes me wish I had rhythm. Frederic: Resurrection of Music for the Nintendo Switch is a short-ish but sweet piano-based music game. Frederic Chopin has been resurrected to bring originality back to music in a series of duels against avatars of the modern music industry, a story told through the use of motion comic style cutscenes. It’s a neat narrative mechanic; it allows for some very pretty visuals without top-of-the-line graphics. The game follows the Guitar Hero control format; notes fly towards your keyboard, and you need to press and hold the corresponding key to keep the music going and finish the level.

It’s best played via the Switch’s touchscreen, but you can use a controller if you like. The game recommends you play it using headphones, too, which I guess can eliminate distractions and help you focus on the beat, but I didn’t find it necessary. It also helps to have a sense of rhythm, which… well… If the overproduced output of the music industry that the game is railing against doesn’t have Chopin rolling in his grave, my attempts to play this game certainly will! Despite my shortcomings, the game itself is a bright, fun experience, with a catchy electronic soundtrack that lovers of music-based games will find fulfilling.

Score: 7.5/10

Buy Frederic: Resurrection of Music from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Forever Entertainment

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*Review code was provided for review purposes.

Wreckin’ Ball Adventure (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Steven Green

Developer: Don’t Bite Devs

Publisher: Qubic Games

Category: Multiplayer Platformer

Release Date: 8.2.2019

Price: $4.99

Wreckin’ Ball Adventure is a physics-based platformer with a strong emphasis on its multiplayer functionality. You play through as a lowly wrecking ball, and you must get through platforming sections and puzzles that involve momentum and some good ole’ thumping in order to traverse. The game really shines in its multiplayer capability, with up to 4 total players getting to play through these levels in high-flying grappling hook fun. Lots of good, but lots of issues in this title; but one to keep an eye out for the couch co-op players.

This title plays as a platformer initially, but doesn’t do much in the accuracy or control department, and is a lot more about mastering the physics in order to get yourself through pretty basic layouts with a lacking control scheme. Your jump is pretty nil until you're moving too fast to properly control your ball. This makes for a lot of just randomly bouncing around at full speed trying to get through a normal corridor or bash through a floor with a very low wall as your only obstacle. Puzzles ramp up of course, and this title improves by a lot when you are playing with friends or family and have the option to get through a lot of the chaos as a group, but alone, this title is pretty rough overall. Everything here makes sense, but the puzzles are pretty baseline, and the platforming as a whole feels like you have to just bash and flail around until you get where you want. I can recommend for anyone looking for something for the weekend shenanigans, but it is something that can be skipped for the solo player looking for a top-notch platforming experience.

Score: 5/10

Buy Wreckin’ Ball Adventure from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Don’t Bite Devs

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Follow Qubic Games

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*Review code was provided for review purposes.

Everdark Tower (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Allan Jenks

Developer: Hit-Point Co., Ltd.

Publisher: KEMCO

Category: RPG

Release Date: 8.22.2019

Price (at time of review): $4.99

Everdark Tower is the second game in the “Pocket-Sized RPG” series from KEMCO and Hit-Point. Like the first entry, Archlion Saga, Everdark Tower is a linear, turn-based RPG broken down into five chapters. A complete playthrough can be done in about 2-4 hours. This time, the story is set in a world where time has stopped moving, causing the world to remain in an eternal night growing ever more infested with its nocturnal monsters. Our hero, along with a few other allies he finds along the way, is on a quest to find the clock tower responsible for the stopping passage of time and get it working again to save the world and bring back a new dawn.

In battles, like before, your party’s HP and battle stats are combined together, as are the enemy party’s. You can use a general physical attack, guard, use an item from your inventory, or you can use a character-specific special move during your turn. The special moves are, again, all fairly useful, and each one provides a different benefit to the party. I found this to be a good balance for battles, and it kept me engaged throughout the game. The art is, like in the first entry, a very beautiful modern retro 16-bit art style, with a lovely and catchy chiptunes soundtrack. Overall, this is another awesome entry into the Pocket-Sized RPG series, and I look forward to playing the next entry! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a good full-RPG experience without having to commit to 30+ hours of story.

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Everdark Tower from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Hit-Point Co., Ltd.

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Follow KEMCO

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*Review code was provided for review purposes.

Bad Dream: Fever (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B. Developer: Desert Fox Publisher: Forever Entertainment Category: Role-Playing, Strategy Release Date: 3.14.19 Price: $9.99

Bad Dream: Fever is the second entry in the Bad Dream series of point-and-click adventure games from developer Desert Fox. It retains the first game’s signature sketchy graphics; that’s sketchy as in “like a sketch,” not “these graphics are going to murder you if you follow them into an alley”—although they may do that, too. It’s a visual style perfectly suited to crafting an eerie, suspenseful atmosphere, while also—well, that would be a spoiler, actually. I may have already said too much.

In terms of the actual gameplay, the puzzles are about as hard as you’d expect if you played a lot of Sierra On-Line games, which is a mixed bag. Be ready to go back to every area, and click on every item a few times—and remember the lessons you learned from Psycho Mantis, too! OK, that was definitely a spoiler, and you’re welcome. The game’s biggest drawback is some occasionally shaky dialogue—It’s nothing that will prevent you from figuring out the puzzle or following the story, just a few instances of, “Those words in that order do not necessarily make a sentence in the English language.” Still, adventure game aficionados with a penchant for dark stories and unique visual styles should be all over this one.

Score: 8/10

Buy Bad Dream: Fever from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Forever Entertainment

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*Review code was provided for review purposes.

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