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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Indie B-Sides Review #016

Hello again, and welcome to the latest Indie B-Sides Review! Kick back and enjoy, as we take a look at some of the awesomeand sometimes not-so-awesomeindie games available for the Switch. What did we play this time? Let's jump right in...

Demolish & Build 2018 (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B

Developer: Ultimate Games Publisher: Ultimate Games Category: Simulation Strategy Release Date: 1.15.2020 Price: $14.99

Is it the Game or Just the Job?

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: I prefer my games to have an element of escapism to them. That sort of eliminates a lot of simulators from my gaming diet, so games like Demolish & Build 2018 for the Nintendo Switch don’t really show up on my radar outside of reviewing duties. Sadly, a game like Demolish & Build provides plenty of justification for me to continue avoiding the genre, though it does boast a few surprising bright spots.

Right off the bat, the graphics look incredibly dated—I would place it somewhere between a PS2 and PS3 level of graphical quality, which is already not great. The story isn’t that deep, but this was never going to be a story-driven experience anyway, so I won’t knock points off for that. You assume the role of a recently-fired demolitions worker starting their own business. The game features four open-world areas for players to explore, discovering new properties in need of demolition and/or renovation. Along the way, you can buy new tools and construction vehicles, which unlock new jobs with even greater monetary rewards, which, in turn, allow you to buy even better equipment.

To be completely blunt, the gameplay isn’t all that satisfying. The controls are a little sluggish, but not too bad. I had trouble figuring out whether the controls were just not very responsive, or if that’s just an accurate representation of what it feels like to control construction equipment. I’d like to lean toward the latter, but the sluggishness was even present when I was just swinging the sledgehammer. I will say that the demolition part of the game gets more satisfying as the game moves along; setting explosives or swinging the wrecking ball is just a plain good time. Unfortunately, it takes a while to get there, and players may lose interest before getting that far in. The game also introduces construction aspects as things progress, but building is a lot less fun than demolition.

The soundtrack isn’t all that expansive; your vehicles can tune in to four different stations, each of which have like three or four different instrumental tracks. Surprisingly, though, the soundtrack is pretty solid! The country rock station the game defaults to isn’t all that great, but the other three stations feature some simple electronic/techno tracks that are pretty catchy. Personally, I was jamming out to the Electric Hammer station pretty much the whole game. So, the deal with Demolish & Build 2018 is fairly straightforward: it has some highs, like the bigger demolitions and the soundtrack, that can’t quite overcome the lows, which are the severely lacking graphics and the grind needed to actually get to the fun demolition contracts.

Score: 4/10

Buy Demolish & Build 2018 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Ultimate Games

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

Zero Zero Zero Zero (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: WoodmanFLG

Developer: Alvarop Games

Publisher: Ratalaika Games

Category: Platformer

Release Date: 2.7.2020

Price: $4.99

Jump, Shoot, Die, Repeat

I absolutely am not typing out Zero Zero Zero Zero a bunch of times for this review, so you will have to deal with 0000, and that's final! 0000 is a self-professed 1-bit low-fi platformer, in that it uses extremely basic computer graphics as an aesthetic; and this visual style is wrapped around 100 levels of super-hard platforming with no way to just try the same level again.

That's right, anytime you die, you get flung right into whatever pool of levels you have left, randomly. This keeps you on your toes very effectively, as you are constantly playing different kinds of levels without just grinding down one, and by the end of your adventure, you will have a few super hard ones left that finally will give you the time to REALLY learn them and complete them. I actually really loved this concept in how the game feeds you the levels; it was fast-paced and kept me on my feet the whole time, and it let me play a large amount of difficult levels—and beat them—without ever feeling stuck. By the time I got to revisit a hard stage, I was better, because I knew the game more, how it handled, and how it presented obstacles; so it felt good to beat them because I was better, not just because I threw myself at the level enough times to get lucky and beat it!

0000 will have the character you control doing lots of jumps and double-jumps, as well as firing a gun to defeat some enemies and interact with the levels in various other ways. Movement is tight, concise, and quick, so you can really maneuver around the challenges presented very well. This game also has a Hardcore Mode with only one life, and a Race Mode to compete with your friends to see who can beat the 100 levels quicker. The game has some killer tunes as well; I found myself really digging them as I plugged away at the levels. 0000 was a really good game whose level structure sets it apart from all other “Hard” platformers on the console. I give Zero Zero Zero Zero an 8/10!

Score: 8/10

Buy Zero Zero Zero Zero from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Alvarop Games

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Follow Ratalaika Games

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

Spartan Fist (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Mat Benson

Developer: Glass Bottom Games

Publisher: JanduSoft

Category: Roguelike, First-Person Punching, Arcade, Action, Fighting

Release Date: 2.28.2020

Price: $14.99

Is Punching Better on the Switch?

Spartan Fist is a small-time, arcade-like “first-person punching” game made by small developers, Glass Bottom Games. Now, all I can say is, a “first-person punching” game definitely piqued my interest, and it being a roguelike game on top of that, I just couldn’t resist trying this one out for myself. Spartan Fist is a cute game that uses LEGO-style graphics (like Minecraft), which is both simple and effective for a small game like this one. I had to call it cute, because both the enemies and allies in this game are adorable. Your helper, Franky, is a talking cat, and the enemies range from lovable creatures like cats, mice, pigeons, and yeah, some humans are in there too. You can tell the developers were going for a friendly kind of punching game, which sounds like an oxymoron, but I assure you that it definitely works!

Right off the bat, you can instantly jump into this game with very little hand holding, as the game play, controls, and concepts are simple enough for people of all ages. However, do not let this simplicity fool you, as the game can be tough. It took me a few runs to get through the first dungeon and actually beat the first big boss. As any roguelike game, it gets easier, and you get better equipment as the game progresses, utilizing “guts” (which I actually believe is literally the guts of your enemies) as currency to buy upgraded fists, health, stamina, and more. This game may sound grotesque, but remember, you can turn party mode on at any time, instantly converting those bloody red pixels into gorgeous… rainbow… guts…

This game has a ton of charm, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it. Using different combos of fists and the three stances you can switch between, I was able to punch my way through all the baddies. With all of this being said, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed with the controls on the Nintendo Switch. In particular, the motion controls. After playing games like Arms, I have come to see how a punching game can have perfectly fluid controls; however, the idea of using motion controls seemed to be an afterthought for the Switch version. You basically just hold the Joy-Cons normally and swing forward to punch, but you still have to use the bumpers to do specials, and more importantly, the joysticks to move around. I would have liked to see controls that were more fleshed out. The only other problem I had with controls was with the auto aim feature, which can thankfully be turned off, because with it on, it makes it almost feel jumpy or glitchy when you want to fight two or more enemies, and the auto aim refuses to let you unlock your gaze on one enemy.

Overall, this game is fun. Spartan Fist is cute and charming, but just violent enough for older players to enjoy. If it had better controls, and was a longer, less repetitive game, I would definitely recommend picking it up at its current price of around 15 dollars (USD); however, as the game sits, I would still recommend picking it up for a punch-filled good time, but possibly when/if it goes on sale.

Score: 7/10

Buy Spartan Fist from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Glass Bottom Games

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Follow JanduSoft

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

Super Tennis (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: WoodmanFLG

Developer: Ultimate Games

Publisher: Ultimate Games

Category: Arcade, Sports

Release Date: 1.27.2020

Price: $5.99

A Good Way to Finally REALLY Know What the Shoulder Buttons Are Called

Super Tennis! A game without any tennis gameplay, that instead has you simulate your “swing” by inputting a series of button commands. The better you perform those button sequences, the more of your gauge will fill up; and when that gauge is filled, you will win the round you are currently playing and move on to the next spot. You can customize your character and unlock more outfits by completing regional tournaments, or by buying others with money you earn while playing. Some areas will have some kind of environmental effect, like hiding the opponent's side in fog so you can’t see them… but why? I’m not actually trying to hit anything, I’m just basically doing a series of quick-time events to fill up a gauge, so while the sentiment is appreciated, it seems entirely unnecessary and feels more like an attempt to make you feel like there is more going on than there really is.

While the game offers lots of costumes and places in which to compete, the gameplay doesn't seem to evolve or get much harder as you go on, so I found very little motivating me to continue playing this game. Living through the PS2/GameCube/Xbox era, I’ve had more than my fair share of quick-time events in my lifetime, so finding out Super Tennis was just a collection of those, instead of, ya know, an actual tennis game, was honestly a little disappointing. This game works for doing what it does, but it’s not very engaging or rewarding while doing it.

Sadly, I don’t really see much point in this title in its current form, as its shtick quickly runs its course and becomes trite and repetitive. I got some brief entertainment from the announcer’s quips, and the sprite work with the colors they used looks nice, but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed my time with this one. I can tell you what though… I sure know EXACTLY what each of the shoulders buttons are now, instead of fumbling between which one on the right is R, and which one is ZR. I’ve been cured! I give Super Tennis a 4/10 for being like unseasoned grits: bland, boring, and wears out its welcome quickly. You could do better for 6 bucks.

Score: 4/10

Buy Super Tennis from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Ultimate Games

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

Breeder Homegrown: Director’s Cut (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Allan Jenks

Developer: Sometimes You

Publisher: Sometimes You

Category: Horror, Adventure, Other

Release Date: 3.5.2020

Price: $4.99

Would You Like to Remember?

Do you ever like to just stop and reminisce about your childhood? Just think about the good times you had with your best buddy? The giant hole in the ground inside your parents’ back yard shed that leads to a weird and creepy alternate dimension filled with otherworldly creatures and mysterious magic? Okay, probably not that last part, but that’s what you’ll be doing if you play Breeder Homegrown: Director’s Cut.

Breeders Homegrown takes you on a trip down memory lane, in a sense, through flashbacks you have as an old man who escaped his mental ward to return to his childhood home with a dark secret in the garden. The flashbacks recount the events that unfold over the course of several months in your childhood, and are triggered by certain objects that you encounter while walking through the shambles of your old home. Depending on how committed you are to clicking on every possible object and seeing every possible flashback, this game can run between 45 minutes to a couple of hours or so to complete.

There really isn’t much else to the gameplay other than a small series of what are essentially just simple fetch quests used to progress the story in the flashbacks. The graphics are very simple, done in a retro 8-bit style. Honestly, while I love the “modern retro” style of a lot of indie games today, this one fell a little flat for me visually. Many of the objects in the game, like beds, couches, and desks, all looked incredibly similar to one another, while at the same time looking completely different from what they were actually supposed to be, and only after staring at them for a while did I figure out what they were. In addition to that, the locations of the doorways are hard to see, and they don’t seem to line up with where you are required to walk in order to pass through them.

While the visuals may have left something to be desired, the ambient sounds and music for Breeder Homegrown were fantastic and well done. They really set the mood for the story being told and leave you with an uneasy feeling as you play. The game is short, but appropriately so, and since there were still some items I may have not selected for a flashback on my first playthrough, the game does give you incentive to replay it. My biggest complaint is actually with the walking speed of our elderly protagonist; I know he’s old and walks with a cane, but could we at least make it take less than 30 seconds to cross the screen? Maybe a run button for short bursts? Anyway, if you like short creepy stories told via top-down, retro-styled, interactive, dialogue-driven adventure games, then you should pick up Breeder Homegrown: Director’s Cut for your collection. You could certainly do worse with your $5.

Score: 6.5/10

Buy Breeder Homegrown: Director’s Cut from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Sometimes You

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

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