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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Indie B-Sides Review #006

Welcome back to another edition of the Indie B-Sides Review series! This time, we look at a gory-yet-lighthearted physics-based game, a story-less platformer that's just what the doctor ordered, a retro-style MMA simulator, a sequel that does it's OG proud, and a dystopian post-alien-invasion train adventure. All aboard!

Guts and Glory (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: HakJak Productions

Publisher: tinyBuildGAMES

Category: Puzzle, Arcade, Action, Simulation

Release Date: 7.19.2018

Price: $14.99

Glorious Physics & A Splash Of Sadism

When I first got Guts and Glory, I told my 8-year-old son—as I do when I get games to review—to see if it’s something he’s heard of or not. I wasn’t expecting him to have heard of Guts and Glory, since it’s an M-rated game and I don’t allow him to play those, but he started going on about how certain YouTubers he watches made videos on this game, and he said it was hilarious. After playing the game, it makes sense. The game is a streamer’s dream game, as it is absurd and insane.

Guts and Glory is a physics-based game that has you—or a duo—work your way through a pretty simple obstacle course that is littered with deadly traps, like buzz saws, arrows, and land mines. Yes, there is a crudeness to the ultraviolent nature of the game, but the game is able to push past that and come off more slapstick and funny, which is why people love both watching it played and playing it.

The game can be rather tough and rage-inducing as you struggle to stay on your vehicle and just reach the next area without dying. It is laid out with nine different sets of challenges where you choose a character and try to make it through the stage, and each of the crazy characters have their own strengths and weaknesses. The camouflaged hunter, Mick, on the four-wheeler may feel more stable, but he’s slow; and then you have a fan favorite, Jack and Jill, who ride an old-school bicycle with a baby cart on back in which Jill rides. It’s fun, but again, rage-inducing, as it’s tough to steer at times, and feels back-heavy.

The 3-D environments and the characters themselves look good enough, but won’t be winning anyone over for style. No, this game is all about the reaction you have when going along and a windmill spinning with chainsaws rips your body in half. I never noticed any slowdown or frame-rate drop, though the blood looked a little weird, as it came out of the characters in blobs rather than squirting out.

I found my joy being short-lived though, as you do have leaderboards, but it felt as if it was lacking something else rather crucial. Upon further inspection, I found it was missing the map editor that is on its PC counterpart. Being able to stretch the insanity out and make your own levels like Super Mario Maker could have given this game a lot of legs, even if it chose to blow them off with explosives. The physics-based gory fun was silly and hail-stoned at times, I just wish there was a way to extend the fun and laughs. This is one I’d definitely recommend watching trailers first and seeing if it’s your thing. If you like crude humor and a challenge, then you’ll have fun with Guts and Glory.

Score: 6/10

Buy Guts and Glory from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Hakjak Productions

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

Deep Space Rush (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B Developer: BUG-Studio Publisher: Ratalaika Games Category: Action, Arcade Release Date: 10.25.2019 Price: $4.99

Who Needs a Story? Just Give Me a Platform!

Every once in a while, it’s just time for an action platformer; don’t ask me why, it just is. Deep Space Rush for the Nintendo Switch would like to be your choice the next time you’re in the mood for one. It’s worthy of consideration if you just want to play a quickie and then get back to whatever your genre of choice is. It’s fairly simple in construction; you can run, fire, jump, and double-jump as you make your way through an endless, procedurally-generated space station full of traps and infected monsters. There’s no story and no end to the game; you just play to see how long you can stay alive. The action is fairly tight and easy to control, for the most part. Unfortunately, when there’s a lot going down onscreen it can be tough to track the action which—at least in my case—leads to a lot of frustrating deaths.

Luckily, restarting your game is a snap, with next to no load times to get the next dungeon generated. Between runs—and even during runs, if you come across a shop icon—you can buy upgrades to your health, weapons, and power-ups. The weapons and power-ups you unlock will randomly drop throughout your run, with mixed results. Some of the guns are not very good in a lot of situations; for instance: the laser has a longer windup animation, making it virtually impossible to use it to hit enemies crawling along the ceiling. You can’t fire directionally, so you have to jump and fire, and its long sequence means you’ll have crested the jump and fallen down past where it would need to fire before it finishes. Losing that flexibility means that wielding that weapon does more harm than good, and that problem carries over into most of the other random weapon drops. The power-ups are much more useful; the invulnerability field is pretty self-explanatory, and the temporary speed increase is pretty useful too.

Like a lot of indie games, Deep Space Rush makes good use of pixel graphics to create a simple, but attractive visual aesthetic. The old-school feel carries over into the chiptune soundtrack, competently composed by HateBit. Overall, the game is very competent, but won’t really blow anyone away. The action is smooth, but difficult to follow when things get hectic, and some of the power-ups do the exact opposite of empowering the player. Still, it’s a light, easy to understand experience that should be good for a few hours of fun.

Score: 6/10

Buy Deep Space Rush from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow BUG-Studio

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

Punch Club (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Lazy Bear Games

Publisher: tinyBuildGAMES

Category: Simulation, Fighting, Strategy, RPG

Release Date: 5.24.2018

Price: $14.99

What’s The First Rule of Punch Club?

Have you ever sat back and looked at someone like Conor McGregor and thought to yourself, “That doesn’t look too hard! I bet I could do it just as easy!”? Well, Punch Club allows you live out that fantasy by throwing you into this MMA life simulator. The game gives some motivation in the form of the story, as your karate-master father was murdered, and now you follow in his steps to be the best fighter. What comes with that is all the normal stuff that life brings, like working a job, building relationships, training to fight, and actually fighting.

Some may be turned off that you might be doing more tasks and relationship-building than fighting, but for me, it’s what makes the game better than any other fighting simulator I’ve played in a while, giving us different ways to train in multiple forms of fighting. Depending on what area you choose to focus, energy, agility, or stamina, this will also affect your day-to-day life. Just always be on your toes, as when things went my way, the game had a way of bringing me back to reality and making me earn it.

On top of this, the game is steeped in 80s and 90s nerd references that got a laugh from me. The graphics also have a retro, 16-bit look, and a retro soundtrack with music that was just okay. Overall, the game was a lot of fun, and if MMA or sim life grabs your interest, then I highly recommend picking this one up.

Score: 8/10

Buy Punch Club from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

SteamWorld Dig 2 (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Allan Jenks

Developer: Image & Form International AB

Publisher: Image & Form International AB

Category: Adventure, Puzzle, Platformer, Metroidvania

Release Date: 9.21.2017

Price: $19.99

Is the Sequel Better Than the Original?

SteamWorld Dig caught me off guard. I was not expecting it to be so fun, but it was! I entered with no expectations, and ended up playing the game obsessively until the end credits rolled. So, what about the sequel? Sequels are notoriously bad, especially when the original is done so well, but the developers at Image & Form don’t have time for that kind of negativity in their lives.

SteamWorld Dig 2 is one of those rare cases where the sequel is actually better than the original. It loses none of the good things from the original, but somehow fixes things you didn’t even know needed fixing; for example: in the original, when you jump into a water-filled tile, you absorb the water into your tank, causing the water to drain from the tile, but in part 2, the water level stays full, allowing you to use the well multiple times instead of only having a finite amount. It’s a small thing, but it’s appreciated. The graphics are basically the same as the original too, which is awesome, because it was not broken, so it didn’t need fixing; and the same goes for the soundtrack and sound effects. Not a copy/paste job by any means, but they have already worked out the basic mechanics of the gameplay, and they know what works.

The story starts out after the events of the first entry. You don’t need to play the original to fully appreciate the sequel, but for the backstory, the first game has you playing the part of Rusty, a bot who showed up to an old mining town to claim his late grandfather’s old mining business. Without spoiling any plots here, suffice it to say that it ends in a grand boss battle with earth-shaking results, and we don’t really get filled in on what becomes of Rusty. Fast forward to an unspecified amount of time later, and we start our sequel with Dot, the bot who so kindly assisted you with your ore sales in the first game. She is on the search for Rusty after he disappeared following the previously mentioned battle, and happens upon a lead in another old mining town in the desert. Earthquakes have been plaguing the old town, and you go down into the mines to investigate, hoping to find a clue to the whereabouts of your missing friend who has been spotted not so long ago by some of the locals.

If you have played the original, all the mechanics you loved are still here, but with a few upgrades. As mentioned, you no longer have a finite amount of water in the watering holes scattered about the mines, and your special abilities have been expanded from the previous entry to include not just your old favorites like the steam drill, but also the grappling hook you didn’t know you needed, and the steam-powered rocket board that lets you soar through the air! As with any good Metroidvania, you are still rewarded for your exploration with several hidden areas and artifacts along the way, as well as areas that must be unlocked by obtaining new skills that allow you to backtrack and access the previously-unreachable areas.

There is about double the gameplay in this one than with the original, and it took me about 20 hours to get to the end credits, though a lot of that was me exploring every nook and cranny to postpone it all being over with the final battle. This game is fun! Buy it! Buy the first one too! Support this developer so they will make a SteamWorld Dig 3. I need it in my life!

Score: 9.5/10

Buy SteamWorld Dig 2 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Image & Form International AB

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The Final Station (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Do My Best Games

Publisher: tinyBuild Games

Category: Action, RPG, Platformer

Release Date: 2.23.2018

Price: $19.99

Will You Live To See The Final Station?

The Final Station is the first game by Do My Best Games, and they have crafted something special, even if it wasn’t what I was truly expecting. As I’ve said before, I’m a film guy, so when I started playing the game, I started to get a vibe of two films: Snow Piercer, and Train to Busan. The Final Station is an indie action-survival game played out in 2-D side-scrolling fashion with pixel art, taking place in a dystopian Earth after an invasion. 100 years later after “the first visitation” the story picks up with you playing a simple train conductor, as one of the remaining humans left on Earth. Now, “the visitation” is happening again, where creatures and a mysterious disease threaten all life left on Earth.

You must take your train to the very end of the line, saving who you can all while trying to complete a mission for the government. The gameplay breaks down into two parts: sim-style gameplay where you manage the train from breaking down or malfunctioning, and handling passengers, giving aid or food where needed; the second half is the action, adventure, and exploration, as when the train ports at each stop, you have to get out to scavenge for supplies, kill monsters, and save survivors.

Though I had to work to conserve bullets and manage med kits, I never felt that the game was really pushing my abilities too hard at all. Although not as difficult as expected, it was still a lot of fun. The story you pick along the way strings together a very cohesive narrative that plays well into this world and what awaits our conductor at the last station. I would recommend picking this one up, as I think most will enjoy the well-designed pixel art; and though it lacks in the music department, the overall game and story do more than enough to make this a game you should own.

Score: 8/10

Buy The Final Station from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review code was provided for review purposes

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