• John Bush

Indie B-Sides Review #022

Welcome to the newest edition of the world-famous JP's Switchmania Indie B-Sides Review! We've got a loaded schedule for today, chock full of ghost busting, criminal executing, spaceship tower defending, exploring with adorable squids, and... boy I don't even know how to define this last one. But it's about falling, and rising... and falling. And Hope. And Falling. Maybe I'll figure out how to explain it better by the time we get to the last entry, but for now let's start at the top.


Ghost Grab 3000 (Nintendo Switch)


Reviewer: John B

Developer: Matt Glanville

Publisher: Matt Glanville

Category: Arcade Action

Release Date: 7.3.2020

Price: $4.99



I Ain't Programmed to Be Afraid of No Ghosts!

Ghost Grab 3000 is the absolutely ideal mix of simplicity and fun. Players take control of the Ghost Grabber 3000, an adorable robot designed to ensnare and explode the ghosts of humanity after its destruction. You can fire your hook to grab one ghost, and running the line over another ghost will ensnare that ghost as well. The object of the game is to build a chain of as many ghosts as you can, then hit the hook button again to blow the chain up. To help you in your quest, you can fire off an EMP blast to negate the ghost’s bullets (ghosts shoot bullets, get over it) or use a nuke to wipe the screen of enemies. You build up points with each vanquished ghost – the more ghosts you have on your chain, the higher your multiplier.


After every wave of ghosts, you are presented with three upgrades or bonuses. You’ll randomly get to choose either an upgrade to your speed, the width of your beam, or the range of your EMP blast. You can also sometimes choose to regain one health heart or grab another nuke. Ghosts occasionally drop coins, which you can use to buy upgrades for Ghost Grabber. The game even has an achievement system which unlocks new difficulty levels and new parts in the shop. The gameplay is fun, simple, and original, and I had an absolute blast playing through it. Throw in absolutely charming retro graphics and a high-energy, high-quality soundtrack, and Ghost Grab 3000 comes highly recommended for anyone looking to pick up a super-fun game that maybe doesn’t offer a lot of variety, but never gets old nonetheless.


Score: 8.5/10


Buy Ghost Grab 3000 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


Follow Matt Glanville

Website / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube

*A game code was provided for review purposes


Singled Out (Nintendo Switch)


Reviewer: John B

Developer: Matt Glanville

Publisher: Matt Glanville

Category: Arcade Action

Release Date: 7.3.2020

Price: $4.99



No Not That Singled Out

While Ghost Grab 3000 is simple, Singled Out – also from Matt Glanville – is downright basic. You play the role of a law-enforcement sniper trying to identify a galactic supercriminal and shoot them in the face in under ten seconds before they can… do… crime? On the left side of the screen there are three facial characteristics of the guilty party. On the right is a field of faces with a jumble of different aspects, and you have to find the only one that features all three of the wanted criminal’s characteristics and either tap on it with the touchscreen or move the cursor over the face and press fire to eliminate the threat. And that’s it.


There are a few different game modes, like a practice mode that doesn’t have the ten-second time limit or, after you beat the regular mode, a memory mode where you have to remember all of the facial characteristics before the potential cupercriminals’ faces are shown. They all still have the same barebones gameplay, though. Somehow, however, despite the game’s almost painful level of simplicity, it manages to be completely addictive in short bursts. It’s a perfect game to kill a few minutes any time you have a few minutes to kill. I think it’s a perfect game to buy for like your phone or something, but I don’t know if the Switch is the right home.


The colorful, pixel-based graphics aren’t especially complex either but they’re just attractive enough to make the game visually interesting. Ultimately, while Singled Out is surprisingly fun, it just doesn’t have much in the way of longevity. There are leaderboards if you want to track your scores against players from around the world, and an in-game achievement system if you want to chase some cheevos. I filled out like 75% of the board within thirty minutes of starting the game, though, so that’s not exactly a long-term attraction. Still, like I said, in short bursts it’s quite fun and absolutely worth picking up if you’re looking for a light, amusing experience to pass the time.


Score: 6/10


Buy Singled Out from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


Follow Matt Glanville

Website / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube

*A game code was provided for review purposes


Spacejacked (Nintendo Switch)


Reviewer: John B

Developer: Rotten Mage

Publisher: Ratalaika Games

Category: Arcade Action, Platformer

Release Date: 6.12.2020

Price: $9.99



Spacejacked for the Nintendo Switch is a fun 2D tower defense platformer that offers plenty of challenge and replayability with smooth gameplay and different game modes. In the story mode, you take the role of Dave, the head of security for a spaceship constantly beset by alien invaders. Seriously; they need to find some way to block those black hole-lookin’ portals from opening up on the ship. You’ll play through ten days of attacks consisting of multiple waves of alien attackers in three of the ship’s vital decks; the medical bay, the engine room, and the robotics rooms. If the aliens destroy the core in any of those rooms, it’s game over for Dave and the crew. There are two extra modes to try as well; survival, which just keeps going until you die, and challenge which assigns very specific objectives to players under certain restraints.


The story and multiple game modes are fine, but as with any game they’re meaningless without great gameplay. Spacejacked delivers on that aspect in spades. Each room has several hardpoints where you can place on of the three turret types; machine gun (rapid fire, low damage), laser (slower rate-of-fire, huge damage), and the stasis turret (big area of effect, temporarily slows enemies down, moderate damage). Each turret type can be upgraded twice for more damage or a greater effect. Dave can reverse his personal gravity instead of having the ability to jump, which allows him to walk on the ceiling and reach the hardpoints there. He also has a gun which he can fire at enemies, but it runs out of juice real quick, so learning to apply it sparingly so you have it in an emergency is an important skill to develop.


Metal is the currency you use to buy turrets, and it can be accumulated primarily by defeating enemies. In story mode, you can unlock a shmup minigame that allows you to collect additional metal between days. You can also sell your turrets for a full refund at any time, which makes for an interesting dynamic. You’ll be switching between each room constantly during the game; in the beginning, each wave only attacks one room at a time. As you progress, the waves will target multiple rooms, but they are staggered so you won’t have to defend two rooms at the same time. Still, if a room doesn’t have an impending attack you can pull up all of your turrets to strengthen the rooms that are actually under attack. It creates a fascinating dynamic where you’re not actually spending any of your resources, you just have to choose how best to distribute your ever-expanding pool of metal. The only way to actually lose metal is to repair your cores when they’re damaged, so redistributing metal to beef up your rooms’ defenses is further incentivized.


The gameplay is both fast, fun, and tactical, which all on its own is a great recommendation for any game. Spacejacked supports its gameplay by offering bright, attractive pixel art graphics and an energetic, electronic soundtrack that gives the game the feel of an old-school arcade game. It plays great, it looks awesome, and sounds wonderful. Just play it already.


Score: 8/10


Buy Spacejacked from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


Rotten Mage

Website / Facebook / Twitter


Follow Ratalaika Games

Website / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube / Instagram

*A game code was provided for review purposes


Radio Squid (Nintendo Switch)


Reviewer: John B

Developer: Pixelteriyaki

Publisher: Ratalaika Games

Category: Rhythm-Based Shooter

Release Date: 6.19.2020

Price: $4.99



There's Only One Squid and No Radios, But Don't Hold That Against It

Radio Squid for the Nintendo Switch is a pretty cute and cool cross of a rhythm game and a twin-stick shooter. Players take the role of an adorable 8-bit squid searching for treasure with his company on the ocean floor. They’re in search of the magical Siren Song, but they don’t quite expect what happens when they find it; poor squiddy has to fight his way through multiple caverns of hostile life, finding bubbles containing fragments of the Siren Song that allow him to use the music to defeat the baddies in his way.


Radio Squid plays like a twin-stick shooter with old-school Zelda-like dungeon exploration. When you enter each new room, you have to grab the Siren Song bubble to be able to shoot the baddies. The unique element of the game is that you can’t really control when you fire; you automatically fire to the beat of the music. You can choose the direction, though, on most control styles, which is something. You can also choose a control option where the direction of your fire is completely random, which is great if you want more than the pretty decent challenge the game already offers.


You can’t exit a room before you defeat every enemy inside it; if you float through an exit, you just warp to another exit on the other side of the room. You can fire bullets through these warps, too, which can enhance your strategy in fun ways. You also have a limited number of bombs to use, which destroy all projectiles on the screen, including your own. Defeated enemies and projectiles turn into coins you can collect or, very occasionally, more bombs or health potions. When you die, you use coins to buy a new life – and you will pay dearly when you die. You have to hand over, like, 75% of your coins to try again. It’s a game over when you die if you do finally run out of coins, which happened a lot to me.


The biggest problem is that because the attacks are bound to the beats of the music, it can sometimes – and sometimes frequently - conflict with or frustrate every instinct I have as a gamer. During boss fights most specifically, it is supremely frustrating when there is a lull in the song and your little squid buddy stops shooting – especially when the boss is in some sort of stunned state. Every fiber of my being is screaming “Attack! ATTAAAAAAACK!” when a boss is stunned after one of their special attacks and is just sitting there, ripe for the shooting, but when it sinks up with a lull in the music it just plain feels wrong when I can’t do anything with that window. I was never able to shake that feeling, and the more it happened the weirder it felt.


The graphics feature very simple, but incredibly charming visuals reminiscent of NES or Game Boy aesthetics. The mostly black and white graphics are cool for a while, but the very minimal variety of the color palette does start to feel monotonous after a while. Played in short sessions, this isn’t something that really comes up very often, but when I played a longer session it stuck out. While the rhythm-based shooting did introduce some irritation in me, the music it was tied to never did. Radio Squid features a funky, upbeat soundtrack that had my head bobbing the whole time. Overall, this is a fun, cute adventure whose simple gameplay is challenging enough to keep player interest high despite a few brief, counterintuitive blips in the shooting.


Score: 7/10


Buy Radio Squid from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


Follow Pixelteriyaki

Website / Twitter / YouTube


Follow Ratalaika Games

Website / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube / Instagram

*A game code was provided for review purposes


Infini (Nintendo Switch)


Reviewer: John B

Developer: Barnaque

Publisher: Nakana.io

Category: Arcade, Adventure, Puzzle, Platformer

Release Date: 7.3.2020

Price: $12.00



WTF!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Have you been jonesing for a game that will make you constantly scream “WTF!?!?” about both its story and gameplay? Then check out Infini for the Nintendo Switch from Barnaque and Nakana.io. At no point did I feel like I understood anything that was happening; sure, I eventually got a kind of handle on the controls, and I figured out a few things from the story, but this is a game that goes out of its way to be as obtuse as it possibly can. That starts with the story, about… umm… a white dude who sometimes had wings and then sometimes didn’t? His name is Hope. He falls, and then he flies – or he flew then he started falling, actually – one of the more infuriating parts of the story is that it is told out of sequence and counted in days since “the incident.” The story is certainly fascinating to try and piece together; rife with allegory, strange characters, and other deep stuff, but man does the gameplay get really freakin’ annoying.


Sure, things start out well enough; Hope is just falling from the top of the screen to the bottom in an infinite loop – you can also warp around the sides of the screen, too. You eventually get the ability to either slow or speed up his descent, and after you get your wings back/flashback to when you still had wings, you can flap them to fly. The object of each level is to navigate Hope through the various insta-death obstacles around the screen and get to the exit portal. One level in each set of memories will also have a special stone you can collect which allows you to translate a message at the end of the level – and that’s one of the things that’s most confusing about the story; you don’t get part of it unless you find the stone. But even that’s not the part of the game that infuriates me; no, that’s the final gameplay mechanic.


In the second set of memories, you start to have to zoom the camera in and out to manipulate the position of the obstacles on the screen. It is an entirely unique puzzle mechanic, and one that is as infuriating as anything I’ve ever encountered in a video game. Sure, restarting a level after hitting a wall (literally) is quick, but the sheer number of times I hit a wall (figuratively) while trying to figure these puzzles out made this an absolutely tedious experience. The store page says it’s great for quick play sessions; what is it describing as “quick?” Some of these puzzles take forever to figure out how and where to zoom the camera in or out; I hardly qualify a puzzle that takes fifty tries to figure out a quick play session. Between the odd, unique visuals and even odder, unique storyline, Infini is a great game to watch someone play on Twitch or YouTube, but only those with the highest tolerance for obtuse game mechanics should give it a try.


Score: 5/10


Buy Infini from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


Follow Barnaque

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube


Follow Nakana.io

Website / Twitter


*A game code was provided for review purposes

©2018 by JP's Switchmania. Proudly created with Wix.com