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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Indie B-Sides Review #013

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

We're back once again for another Indie B-Sides Review! This time, we take a look at a cartoonish adventure between friends, a DIY game for working on motorcycles, a sequel game that is yet again about kidnapping, a dog who unleashes Hell, and a fishing simulator that might get it a little too realistic. Let's dive right in!

Knights and Bikes (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: The Waffinator

Developer: Foam Sword Games

Publisher: Double Fine

Category: Adventure, Action

Release Date: 2.6.2020

Price: $19.99

Secret of The Goonies

Inspired by the movie The Goonies and the video game Secret of Mana, indie game developer Foam Sword Games brings you Knights and Bikes, a fun little adventure game where you play as two girls, Nessa and Demelza, who venture off with Demelza's pet goose, Captain Honkers, in the search for a hidden treasure on Demelza's home island. Nessa and Demelza start of as strangers with two different backgrounds, but become good friends right away. As you venture off to find this rumored treasure of the island, a curse is unleashed—for every good buried treasure story comes with a good curse/backstory!

The controls of the game are very fluent and smooth. Usually, with a lot of indie games—heck, even some AAA titles’—controls can be a bit difficult, especially with action games; but that is not the case with Knights and Bikes. Knights and Bikes is very user friendly and easy to learn, and as you learn new abilities and progress, it will give you a quick tutorial on your newly learned moves, helping it stay easier for you. I have played it all via the portable mode, and it plays ever so smoothly, and is a very enjoyable game on the go.

One of my favorite things about Knights and Bikes is the artistic approach to the game and the characters. It is cartoonish, like a lot of games nowadays, but yet sets itself apart from all the other games with a different cartoonish design. In fact, it is one of my favorite artistic designs of a cartoonish game in a long time. The overall soundtrack to the game is very enjoyable as well. From sound effects, to the mumble talking, to the music that plays in the background, it is very well composed and you can tell a lot of work went into it.

Knights and Bikes is an easily enjoyable action game that gets better as you progress, and is not one to be overlooked. Between the growing friendship of Nessa and Demelza, the curse of the island and all kinds of enemies you fight, and customizing your bikes, the game is very enjoyable and a great play for all types of gamers. Plus, the fact that you can play with another player makes it that much better!

Score 9.5/10

Buy Knights and Bikes from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Foam Sword Games

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Akio Kahoshi

Developer: Pyramid Games

Publisher: Ultimate Games

Category: Simulator

Release Date: 1.27.2020

Price: $6.99

Get in the Zone…

I’ll be the first to admit that I have only the most basic knowledge of how motorcycles work, but after playing Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator for a few hours, I almost feel like I know something. The core gameplay revolves around exactly what the name suggests: repairing motorcycles. This is accomplished by finding bad parts, and then either replacing or repairing them. While replacing a part is as simple as choosing the right part from the list, repairing parts actually offers a series of mini-games for each type.

Primarily, the player will be taking on contracts to fix up people’s motorcycles and get paid. That money can be used on things like upgrading the workshop to earn pay bonuses, unlocking more advanced motorcycle types, or entering auctions to purchase motorcycles. The auction gameplay itself was not particularly engaging, and it felt more like luck to win an auction at a good price than anything else. More often, the NPC bidders would keep bidding until the motorcycle was no longer profitable. When I did win though, I was able to repair the motorcycle for myself. Once complete I could sell it for a profit, or add it to my personal collection.

One neat feature I did not expect was that, once I added a motorcycle to my collection, I was able to ride it. Another mini-game, here the goal was to stay out of a wreck for as long as possible. The further I made it, the more money I got. If I had one real complaint during my time playing, it was that earning money was extremely slow. To unlock everything in this game would take a significant time sink.

For fans of simulators though, Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator is a surprisingly good way to waste time. I found myself spending far longer than intended, my brain seeming to switch itself to “off” as I repaired motorcycle after motorcycle. The fact that each class of motorcycle had its own parts set up helped it from getting too monotonous, so I could easily see myself playing this game more if I ever felt like just zoning out for a bit.

Score: 8/10

Buy Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Pyramid Games

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Follow Ultimate Games

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

FoxyLand 2 (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Allan Jenks

Developer: BUG-Studio

Publisher: Ratalaika Games

Category: Action, Platformer

Release Date: 1.24.2020

Price: $5.99

There’s Something About Kidnappings…

FoxyLand 2 follows a similar premise to the original FoxyLand, but this time, instead of your lady being kidnapped, some big, bad wolves—The Wolfie Brothers—kidnap your two children, and it is up to you to traverse the island to rescue them from the wolves. Many of the core mechanics of the original game have been maintained, but there are a few key differences. For one, you no longer have a health bar that allows you to take multiple hits. Now, it’s one hit and you’re dead! Instead of collecting cherries for points, you now collect them to use as projectiles, and instead collect coins to be used for extra lives. And instead of collecting four hidden gems in each stage, you collect three giant coins.

The island is broken down into short little bite-sized stages, and as I mentioned, each one contains three hidden giant coins to collect, along with other smaller coins placed throughout the stage. While not required to advance, you do receive an extra life for every 24 coins you’ve collected upon completing each stage; and extra lives are definitely nice to have, as the stages—and one-hit deaths—are set up to make you fail… a lot.

Many of the gaps you must cross are set up so that you have to double-jump to cross them, but many are also deceptively spaced out, so it doesn’t always look like a double-jump would be required until it is too late, and then you end up stuck sliding down the other wall, trying desperately to jump back to safety and out of the way of the spike pit, but ultimately, it is all for naught, as you and the game both know you’re going to die.

With the boss fights, it gets even harder, because the required number of hits you have to land versus the amount of falling objects and charging boss advances you must dodge is a bit lopsided. It’s not impossible, but it does get rather frustrating when you get 99% of the way through the fight and get hit with a cheap shot and have to do it all over again, including being forced to go through the freaking pre-fight dialogue each time.

Graphically, FoxyLand 2 follows the current indie trend of retro 8-bit graphics and sounds, and it does a pretty good job at it. The colors are bright and cheery, and the overworld map takes me back to the good old days of Super Mario Bros. 3 in its design, though it is not quite as polished in its overall look. Oddly, the graphics in the first FoxyLand seem to be a little more detailed in the foreground parts than in the sequel, while many of the backgrounds are improved in 2 over the original. The controls are spot-on though, and the gameplay, while tough at times, is still far from impossible to master. I enjoyed my time with FoxyLand 2, and if you are a fan of old-school platformers, then you will probably enjoy it too. It’s a fun little indie title that is well worth the asking price.

Score: 7.5/10

Buy FoxyLand 2 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow BUG-Studio

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Follow Ratalaika Games

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

Milo’s Quest (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Akio Kahoshi

Developer: lightUP

Publisher: Ratalaika Games

Category: Adventure, Puzzle

Release Date: 1.31.2020

Price: $4.99

Beware the Green Bone

Milo’s Quest is a simple game with a simple premise. Milo is a dog who, apparently, unleased a bunch of ghosts when he found a green bone. So now he must defeat them, while solving puzzles along the way. The game actually provides the option to play only adventure or only puzzle mode, which is actually neat. I played the combined mode for the review though.

This game is definitely geared toward a younger audience, as the puzzles are never terribly challenging. In fact, the only time I had issues was if I moved a block incorrectly. I would then have to leave and reenter the map screen. As this also respawned any enemies, it made the puzzles more annoying than difficult. I also ran into issues with everything requiring pixel-perfect positioning sometimes, and I noticed during rain or snow Milo seemed to run slower. I do not know if this was on purpose, but if not, this kind of performance issue is unacceptable for a pixel game running on modern hardware.

Probably the biggest flaw with the game is the combat, though. Combat actually plays a large role, but it is terribly awkward. Attacks are done by dashing forward. If at the end of the dash I was overlapping with the enemy I hit, then I took damage. If two enemies were also stacked I might only hit one and take damage from the other. In the early game with only two health, this caused a few deaths until I got a handle on the dash, though deaths are not a huge loss, thankfully. When Milo dies, all that is lost are some of the bones collected. Bones act as the game’s coins, and are only used to open up certain gates. Behind the gates can be health ups, stamina ups, or golden keys used to open chests. Simply walking between two zones and collecting bones from bushes was usually enough to open a gate if I was short.

I stopped bothering with the keys, though. It took fifty bones to unlock the gate, and then the chest would give me back a maximum of seven bones. If going for completion then they are required, but they are not to beat the story. One neat feature after I finished was that the game loops back around to the start, letting you explore the map again to get anything you may have missed before. For the price, Milo’s Quest is not a bad game, but it is also one that most will not get a lot out of. Though, as a game to keep your son or daughter occupied for a couple of hours, there are worse options.

Score: 6/10

Buy Milo’s Quest from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Ratalaika Games

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: The Waffinator

Developer: Misc Games

Publisher: Astragon

Category: Simulation

Release Date: 12.10.2019

Price: $29.99

Catch and Release

I am no stranger to simulator games. In fact, I seem to get a lot via being a part of this amazing group; but I usually like them, for they usually reel you right in and can keep you hooked. I find myself drowning at sea, however, when it comes to Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition. You start off in a wooden boat that you inherit from your grandfather, and as you catch and sell fish, you can save up and buy bigger and better boats; and I have restarted the career mode 3x now, and I don't know if it's the very lackluster BGM or the painful controls, but either way, this is a simulator that keeps losing my interest very quickly.

One part I think is cool and I do enjoy is when you go and have to haul fish and then gut them. It's not grotesque, and the blood is minimal, but I like that every fish has a different cut pattern, and the game kind of teaches you the cutting pattern. Other than that, I find it hard staying fully invested into it. I mean, I like fishing and deep sea fishing, but the overall simulation of it is hard for me to get into. I am not saying it is a terrible game, for many people may enjoy it, but this is one simulator I will release back into the seas.

Score 6.5/10

Buy Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Misc Games

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

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