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Eliwood8

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About Eliwood8

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  1. Robo from Chrono Trigger is the first one that comes to mind, even if he's not technically Nintendo-made.
  2. After missing the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Mario and Sonic are back, perhaps appropriately as the Olympics return to Japan. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 reunites all the familiar faces of both game franchises in another mini-game-packed competition. Like most Mario sports games or mini-game compilations, the crux of the gameplay experience is unchanged here: the local multiplayer options are going to make or break your enjoyment of the game. If, for some reason, you're looking to play Tokyo 2020 purely for the single-player experience, you might be pleased to learn there is an actual story mode. While Mario and Sonic are enjoying the Olympic games, Bowser and Eggman team up to meddle, which leads to all four of them (plus Toad) being trapped inside a video game based on the 1964 Olympic games, also held in Tokyo. Most people probably wouldn't expect much from the story mode of a mini-game compilation like this and…well, you'd be right, but the way the story weaves together the modern Olympic games and the 1964 ones is a fun concept. One of the most interesting aspects of the whole game ends up being the little bits of trivia you can uncover about the Olympics, like learning when Judo was introduced as an Olympic event. Tokyo 2020 also intertwines these fun facts with bits about the Mario and Sonic franchises, so it's a little awkward to go from learning about sports history to learning how many polka dots are on Toadette's head, but overall it's still a fun inclusion. Otherwise the story plays out pretty much as you'd expect, and in a rather disappointingly slow, plodding way (characters will often repeat something you just heard another character say, which really makes these dialogue scenes drag). The story only takes about five hours to get through and it still feels too long and slow. Still, having a story mode at all—and with Olympic trivia—is a nice addition. Tokyo 2020 features an impressive 34 events to partake in. That includes 21 3D events, 3 dream events (which aren't based on Olympic games and have more typical "video game" features like power-ups and obstacles) and 10 2D events that take place in the 1964 Tokyo games. Including a "retro" mode with Tokyo 1964 is a pretty cute concept: seeing 8-bit Mario competing alongside 16-bit Sonic is a mash-up I didn't realize I wanted. With 34 events total there's also a great variety available—some standard events are included like the 100m dash or hurdles, but then there are unique new additions like skateboarding or sport climbing. If you're playing with friends, it feels like there's enough variety that everyone will find an event to excel at (and gloat about). However, the downside to featuring so many events is the need to meticulously explain the controls for each and every one. Moreso than other mini-game compilations like Mario Party, it feels like the controls in Tokyo 2020 aren't particularly intuitive and are maybe a little too complex to grasp in the short amount of time an event typically lasts. The game is also downright bad at introducing and explaining the controls at times. When you first start an event you'll be given a quick rundown of how the basic controls work, but oftentimes there are important advanced controls that aren't explained unless you check the controls in each event. Obviously Tokyo 2020 is a game meant to be played over and over anyway so this is really just part of the learning curve, but it still would've been nice to have better introductions to events. Some of the complexity may even turn off new players in a multiplayer match. The issue with the controls only gets more complicated when you add in motion controls. First I should reassure anyone that dislikes motion controls that every event can be played with standard button controls. However many events also include motion control options with either a single or dual Joy-Cons. The result is mixed at best—there's definitely a novelty to using motion controls to pull back a bowstring or row a canoe, but button controls always felt more comfortable and more precise (not to mention less exhausting). As is often the case in a game like this, motion control is a novelty that you probably won't return to often. There's also the issue that the loading screens are just a little bit too long—not excessively so, but when events take only seconds to complete, a three second loading screen ends up feeling disproportionately long. And it definitely doesn't help that Tokyo 2020 doesn't include any kind of tournament mode to play through several events at once. Instead you simply pick one event, play, then repeat or go back to the selection screen. You end up wasting a lot of time on selection screens in the game, which doesn't foster a great "party game" atmosphere. Depending on your preferences, this next point might be a positive or negative: there's very little to unlock in Tokyo 2020. That means that pretty much everything the game has to offer is available right from the start, but players that enjoy that sense of progression won't have much to latch onto here. Aside from some bonus mini-games unlocked by playing the story, the only other things to unlock are bonus characters for specific events. Although the main roster can compete in any event, specific events might have a guest character available, such as Rosalina who is only able to compete in surfing. It's a little weird to restrict certain characters to certain events, but at least it gives them some opportunity to compete, even if it's a limited one. In addition to local multiplayer, Tokyo 2020 can also be played online. At the time of this writing though I'll say that the online community is pretty meager. You can play in either ranked or casual matches, but in both cases it was hard to find an opponent. The best option for playing online may just be to coordinate with a friend first. The presentation of Tokyo 2020 is typical Mario sports game quality: it's clean and colorful and not particularly exciting, but it all looks good. There simply isn't much opportunity for flashy visuals in a game about Olympic events—especially one that draws from realworld Tokyo locations for backgrounds—so the graphics never feel particularly noteworthy, aside from the aforementioned retro look for Tokyo 1964. The soundtrack is pretty decent as well but ultimately doesn't have many standout tracks either; the presentation in Tokyo 2020 is good but unexciting. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is a fun return to the competition between these two titans of the video game world, though it's not without its issues. It's not a surprise that the game caters to the multiplayer experience, but some small annoying quirks can make casual game sessions a little more complicated than they need to be, while the online community is simply lacking. Still, the variety of events offers a little something for everyone, even if the game's staying power is questionable. Rating: 6 out of 10 Events
  3. Still my favorite 2D Mario game—one of my favorite games of all time, really.
  4. Geez it's almost too much to even scroll through and find games. Here's some stuff that jumped out at me that I recommend though: Shakedown Hawaii Child of Light Dead Cells Figment Yoku's Island Express FRAMED Collection I thought it was good though undeniably locked in the past in some ways, and with some poor load times.
  5. The hugs in A Boy and His Blob were dangerously cute.
  6. Childhood adventure certainly isn't a new theme for game design, but it's not often you see it done so stylishly and sincerely. Knights and Bikes from developer Foam Sword and publisher Double Fine is a co-op adventure starring two young girls searching for treasure buried underneath an unassuming British island. The quest pits them against ancient curses and the disinterest of local residents, but charming co-op game design, stunning artwork, and a heartfelt story await brave adventurers on the Switch. Also there's a goose. Knights and Bikes opens by throwing you right into the action as our two protagonists, Demelza and Nessa, are careening down a hill on their bikes. The game then jumps back to a few days prior to show Nessa arriving on Penfurzy Island, where Demelza lives with her father. The two girls quickly strike up a friendship and join forces to uncover the mythical treasure of Penfurzy, said to be left there by medieval knights. The developers have cited The Goonies as a major inspiration for the game and it's not hard to see: Knights and Bikes has the same sense of childhood adventure, bound together by the sweet and heartfelt bond between the girls. Because while the adventure is cute and goofy in the way a child's idea of a treasure hunt is, the real heart of the game comes from the girls' friendship and their tumultuous adolescent emotions, which is everything you'd expect it to be: sweet, melancholy, and touching enough to stick with you long after finishing the game. What stands out immediately about Knights and Bikes is its striking, chaotic art style. It's 2D artwork in a 3D environment in the style of children's artwork—i.e. pastels, paints, and chalk—filled with bizarre shapes and angles that bursts with personality and imagination, sometimes literally when the characters' ideas are manifested in the world as scratchy child drawings. It creates beautiful screenshots of this charmingly odd little island, but the real icing on the cake is seeing the game in action. The animation of the girls is in constant motion—a perfect representation of the boundless energy of childhood as the pair eagerly sets off on their treasure hunting adventure. It's fantastic to see the art style and animation reinforce the personalities of the characters and their child's-eye view of the world so perfectly. The music also deserves major credit for developing this atmosphere of childhood adventure, and more specifically an 80s childhood adventure. In addition to an excellent opening song that encapsulates the young 80s punk spirit, the sound design throughout the game is subtle but impactful where it counts. Although there are plenty of local co-op games (arguably not enough, but that's a different discussion), many of them end up integrating the second player in a simple, supporting role, like an assistant to the main player. Knights and Bikes, however, is fully made for co-op adventuring. Each player can control one of the girls and there's a heavy emphasis on cooperation throughout the game. Demelza and Nessa have slightly different abilities—in the form of weapons/items—so to solve puzzles or overcome obstacles the two have to work together. For example, Demelza has boots that allow her to stomp on the ground, while Nessa has a flying disc to hit distant objects, and both might be needed to unlock a gate. It's a lot of fun to see this kind of co-op experience be so central to the game and reinforce the theme of friendship. Don't worry though if you don't have someone to play with: Knights and Bikes is also completely playable solo as the AI simply takes over for the other character. You're even able to swap between the two girls to explore everything the game has to offer. The AI is also pretty good at proactively approaching obstacles or enemies so thankfully it never feels like dead weight. The game is really meant to be played with two players though, so if possible it's worth setting up a game day with a friend and sharing the adventure with someone. The adventure itself also errs on the easy side. Puzzles are never too complex, and combat is basic but fairly undemanding. That's not necessarily a negative though. Knights and Bikes is more about the sense of childhood adventure and camaraderie than challenging the player with complicated traps and hazards. The puzzle design may be somewhat simple but the adventure itself is undeniably charming. And I have to point out that the girls heal themselves by high-fiving each other—it's distressingly rare for games to recognize the healing power of high fives, so I commend Knights and Bikes for making it an integral part of the game. After all, how many games have a dedicated high five button? Knights and Bikes lasts a comfortable eight hours or so—not too long, but not too short either. It's long enough for the game's themes to have a satisfying weight to them and for a good variety of puzzles that don't grow stale. There's not a ton of replay value, but each region of the game has a number of hidden treasure boxes for you to find. Boxes hold valuable trinkets such as half-broken figurines, bugs, or bread bag ties—the kinds of things kids would treasure—which can be used to buy cosmetics for your bikes. Treasure is also abundantly found everywhere in the game, including dropped from enemies, so hunting treasure boxes is really more of a pursuit for completionists. I will note that the game suffered from some minor technical problems while I was playing. At one point the frame rate stuttered and dropped noticeably, and in another instance the visuals on the screen became stuck no matter how I moved the characters. Thankfully Knights and Bikes uses an autosave system that refreshes pretty frequently, so these problems were easily fixed by reloading the last checkpoint and losing, at most, a minute of time. Knights and Bikes is a lovingly crafted ode to childhood adventure, and perhaps a good reminder that such adventures aren't just for kids. Wandering around quirky locations and imagining them as grand fantasy structures alongside your best friend makes for an utterly charming co-op game, one that beautifully blends its story, gameplay, and audio/visual design into a clever, imaginative, and heartfelt experience. The chance to play a solid co-op game should be reason enough to pick up Knights and Bikes, but the fact that it's so well crafted will keep you hooked and pedaling. Rating: 8 out of 10 Bikes Review copy provided by publisher Knights and Bikes is available now on the Switch eShop for $19.99.
  7. Really impressed by those other million-seller games! I know Ring Fit is basically the Wii Fit of the Switch but two million is still a lot more than I would have given it credit for. And a million sold for Astral Chain is great, even if it is, after all, from one of the most famous action-game developers currently working. I was also curious if those 3DS numbers had moved at all in the last year: compared to last year's Q3 report, just barely. I know that's not a surprise to anyone but I wonder when Nintendo will officially retire the 3DS.
  8. Finally started my third and final playthrough of Three Houses on the Golden Deer route, and since I'm using New Game++ I was planning on recruiting all possible students. Just realized how silly the Battle of the Eagle and the Lion is going to look with Edelgard and Dimitri using only their personal assistants and a bunch of generic units.
  9. Released in 2018, arguably past the point where toys-to-life games were popular, Starlink: Battle for Atlas had an uphill battle from the start. Needing to separately purchase ships, weapons, and pilots is a big sell, even if manually swapping out your ship's weapons has a unique charm to it. But what Starlink did have on its side—for the Switch version—was a Star Fox tie-in that incorporated Nintendo's familiar space-faring heroes into the game's original story. Even if it's not technically a Star Fox game, Nintendo fans will likely appreciate seeing Fox, Falco, Peppy, and Slippy explore planets and dogfight in space. The story takes place in the Atlas system where your interstellar ship, the Equinox, is attacked by the Forgotten Legion. The Legion and their leader, Grax, are obsessed with the ancient technology left behind by the extinct species known as the Wardens, and are trying to use the long dormant technology for their own nefarious purposes. It's up to you to stop them by traveling to all seven planets in the Atlas system and rallying the residents to fight back. In the Switch version, the Star Fox team also gets involved when they're pursuit of Wolf leads them to the Atlas system. The main plot is a decent space-adventure story, though it feels a little derivative of other well known sci-fi games. Putting aside such comparisons though, the story is a cute if forgettable yarn about good and evil battling it out. The Star Fox side story will be more interesting to Nintendo fans, and although it really is only a small string of side quests in Starlink it's a lot of fun to see Fox square off against Wolf again. Let's address the elephant in the room right now: Starlink was created around the idea that players could buy a variety of toys in order to swap out different ships, pilots, and weapons at will. Although you can purchase these items digitally instead of physically, you do need to buy them to use in-game as there's no way to unlock them just by playing. Purchasing all of these add-ons (plus the main game) represents a significant investment. It's kind of a lame business model—for the player at least—but thankfully it is entirely possible to beat the game with just the basic starter kit. You won't have access to all of the different weapon types, but the game is still playable and enjoyable with only the basics (though having extra ships essentially serves as extra lives if you're ever shot down, so there's a definite benefit to having several). Personally I found myself occasionally wishing I could try different ships to benefit from different tactics or abilities, but I was never compelled to actually buy them. Now on to the actual gameplay. Starlink is a third-person action-adventure game where you pick a pilot, a ship, and two weapons to battle Legion forces either in space or on the surface of planets. Flying into or out of a planet's atmosphere is pretty seamless and really nails the thrill of a space adventure like few other games. Between land-based battles and space dogfights, Starlink offers an intense but ultimately forgiving sense of combat difficulty. Your weapons have a cool down if they're fired too rapidly and there's no lock-on targeting, so you have to adeptly maneuver while keeping an eye on your weapons' energy gauges. The lack of lock-on targeting can make space dogfights a bit disorienting since enemy ships seem to move awfully fast, but these battles feel more natural the longer you play. On the other hand, your ship regenerates health outside of combat, so if you're ever too overwhelmed you can simply retreat, recharge, and try again. The game ends up feeling pretty well balanced and satisfying, making it nicely accessible to any level of player. Though if you do want more of a challenge there are different difficulty levels to try and, since there are light RPG elements in terms of pilot experience level, you can try to keep yourself underleveled to keep things challenging. Outside of combat, the real focus of Starlink is open-world game design. Each planet in the Atlas system is packed with locations and small objectives to conquer, all of which reward you with currency or ship modifications that can bolster your attack or defense. Ubisoft's trademark game design is on full display here: every time you enter a new area (or in this case, a new planet), your map will be filled with minor tasks you can tackle to tick your way to 100% completion. It's great that there's so much to do on each planet but Starlink rather despearately lacks variety. There are only four or five variations of side missions repeated hundreds of times throughout the game, and trying to complete them all seems more exhausting than entertaining. These are, of course, almost entirely optional objectives—you do need to complete a small percentage of them to progress the story—but still, it would have been nice to have side content that felt like more than padding. Starlink also features local drop-in/drop-out co-op (while in docked mode). Not that the game's difficulty ever really requires it, but having a wingman while flying around a dreadnought's defensive cannons in space or clearing out robotic enemies from a satellite array is a nice perk. Despite the split-screen the second player can never get too far away from the main player, but there's enough wiggle room that you don't feel completely tethered to one another. Whether in the depths of space or on the colorful surfaces of Atlas's worlds, the visuals are charmingly colorful while still making these alien environments unique and interesting. Granted, Starlink's art style is distinctly cartoony—its pilot designs and the flora/fauna of the planets feels suited to a summer kids film—but it works for the game. The soundtrack also plays it safe, though in this case a bit too much. The music ends up feeling somewhat generic throughout—not necessarily bad, but not memorable either. The Star Fox music that pops up during their missions however is a real treat for fans of the series. It's a shame that Starlink: Battle for Atlas was tied to the toys-to-life game banner, because even without all of the bells and whistles of multiple ships and weapons, there's an enjoyable space adventure here. Flying down to the surface of different planets and exploring is exciting, though the cookie-cutter approach to side quests and even the main story quests can make progress in the game feel more like a checklist than a journey of discovery. But for the Switch version at least, the presence of familiar Star Fox faces helps add value, and any excuse to jump back into the cockpit of an Arwing is a welcome one. Rating: 8 out of 10 Toy Ships
  10. I also got major Runbow vibes from SpeedRunners. And yes, the demo is well worth checking out to get a feel for the game!
  11. - A Hat in Time (Switch) It was disappointing to see how poor the visuals and technical performance of this game was on the Switch, but then it was really disappointing when compared to screenshots from other versions. - World to the West (Switch) Another game that I've left on my wish list for a long time and finally got around to playing thanks to new year's sales. Ultimately I felt like the gameplay was stretched a little too thin, but I did like the concept of swapping between four characters in an adventure game. - SpeedRunners (Switch) Story mode is pretty short, just a standard racing game "beat the AI" sort of thing, but the game shines as an easy to pick up and play party game. - Valfaris (Switch) An improvement over Slain, but the super difficult format still left me feeling more relieved that the game was over rather than satisfied by a job well done. - Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Switch) It's a shame that this game even bothered with the whole toys-to-life feature because it's a pretty solid sci-fi space shooter and I feel like the concept of purchasing ships/guns really hurt its marketing. It also definitely suffers from some bloated open-world game design but overall it's fun, and I hope Ubisoft continues to make surprising games with Nintendo IPs. Console: 10 Overall: 10
  12. From developer Double Dutch Games and publisher tinyBuild Games comes SpeedRunners, a fast-paced racing game that combines platformer elements with the chaos of multiplayer for one wild competition. Easy to pick up after a practice race or two, SpeedRunners is a charmingly frantic take on racing games, one that seems tailor made for a friendly (or competitive) party atmosphere. SpeedRunners is clearly a game built around multiplayer, but there is a short story mode that can help you practice leaving the competition in the dust. You play as Speed Runner, a sort of super hero, though his somewhat careless antics while saving the day seems to draw the ire of other costumed heroes, prompting them to challenge you to a variety of races. As far as storytelling is concerned this is incredibly short and basic, though the comic book presentation of backstories (unlocked after finishing each section of the story mode) does add some charm. The gameplay seems to pull inspiration from a number of directions, and the end result is surprisingly original and engaging. Up to four players race each other around a 2D side-scrolling arena where some precision is required to slip through narrow paths or leap over hazards, but more importantly you have to maintain your momentum and keep moving. Rather than simply racing to cross the finish line first, the goal is to continuously outpace your opponents as the screen's focus follows the player at the front of the pack and anyone lagging behind is in danger of getting knocked out. The stage continues to loop seamlessly until only one racer remains, at which point the eliminated players are brought back and the race begins again right from where it left off, which helps give SpeedRunners a feeling of always being in motion. To further put the pressure on (and ensure races don't last ridiculously long), the size of the screen will start to shrink as players are eliminated, pushing the players behind to move a little faster but also reducing visibility for the racer in the front. It's a clever way of ensuring the competition remains intense without unfairly punishing the players lagging behind, which also ensures there's always a chance for an upset win. Races are fairly short and snappy, which makes SpeedRunners a perfect party game. The controls are relatively easy to pick up—though fully mastering them can be a bit more of a challenge than it initially seems—and the quick, chaotic nature of the game makes it easy for everyone on the couch to get in on the action. Though if you do want to play more competitively, there's also enough depth to the gameplay to make serious races satisfying. SpeedRunners is really all about maintaining your momentum, even when you have to change direction rapidly, and mastering this takes some serious skill if the "unfair" difficulty setting is anything to go by. Aside from merely jumping or sliding to avoid obstacles, you'll need to master swinging on a grappling hook to maintain speed, which can be tricky in narrow spaces. There's also a speed burst ability that can be charged by passing over boosters in the stage, and saving these bursts of speed for strategically valuable moments takes some forethought. So although SpeedRunners functions excellently as a slightly wacky party game, serious racing game fans will find some depth to enjoy as well. And speaking of wacky party game elements, SpeedRunners also features items which, as all Mario Kart fans know, bring with them a delightful (and sometimes not so delightful) element of chaos. The items in this game feel pretty well balanced though—the hazards that other players will throw at you can all be dodged with careful timing, so it feels less like a random penalty and more like a punishment for not keeping an eye on the competition. Each item blends well with SpeedRunners' focus on momentum and precision, and of course they also make for some satisfying upsets even when the lead player is far ahead. The wild races of Speed Runner and his competitors take them through a variety of colorful locations, though ultimately the presentation of SpeedRunners is decidedly minimalist. The scenery has some detail but for the walls and floors are always jet black, which allows the characters and hazards to stand out nicely. It's ultimately a case of function over form, and although more detailed visuals might have been nice, there's no denying that the graphics help keep the gameplay clear and readable even at the most hectic of times. The soundtrack also errs on the side of simplicity—there are some good songs but a stark lack of variety which makes the background music a little disappointingly repetitive. As mentioned the story mode is pretty short, so naturally the game's real value comes from multiplayer. SpeedRunners features both offline and online multiplayer so you can enjoy the frantic action even if you don't have anyone close by to play with. The online connection works well, though the game is still so new that you might not find opponents quickly. Besides, the charm of the game works better with friends gathered around the couch. There are also several DLC items available for purchase on the eShop, but these represent only cosmetic additions, not changes to the gameplay. It's a bit disappointing that these add-ons are still being sold separately instead of bundled with the main game considering the game originally launched on other systems several years ago, but of course the DLC is entirely optional and you'll be at no disadvantage while playing if you don't want to pay for more character costumes. What SpeedRunners lacks in depth it makes up for in sheer replay value. The game's simplicity ends up being one of its most charming and defining features, making the game comfortably accessible to new players and ideal for a quick party setting. There's enough depth to keep things interesting after the initial honeymoon period as well, which makes SpeedRunners ideal for racing game fans that love perfecting their skills with handling the chaos of items and competitors. Rating: 8 out of 10 Runners Review copy provided by publisher SpeedRunners is available now on the Switch eShop for $14.99.
  13. Unfortunately this was a rental that I had already returned by the time that I was putting together images for this review. Normally using press images feels sufficient as they're better curated to show off the game's features, it's just that in this case I felt they don't properly represent my experience with the game. I should use the screenshot function more, I just forget to use it even outside of review purposes.
  14. It took its time, but finally, just a few months ago, the 3D-collectathon-platformer-inspired game A Hat in Time released on a Nintendo system. Originally Kickstarted back in 2013, the game released on other systems in 2017, though sadly did not launch on the Switch at that time and, quite understandably, skipped over the Wii U entirely. But now Nintendo fans have a chance to play a game that so clearly wears its Banjo-Kazooie/Donkey Kong 64/Super Mario 64 inspiration on its sleeve—or hat, as it were. Sadly, Switch owners will have to settle for an undeniably worse version of the game. You play as Hat Kid, a space-traveling girl who uses Time Pieces to fuel her spaceship. When the hull is breached and the precious Time Pieces are scattered across a nearby planet, she sets out to recover them before their time-manipulating power is abused by any ne'er-do-wells. The game ups the stakes a bit when you meet one such ne'er-do-well and have to race to collect the Time Pieces first, but the story is still light in A Hat in Time. It pretty much just sets up your motivation and then lets you loose in the game. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the environments and side characters have plenty of goofy, cartoony charm (edging on obnoxious at times, granted) but it does mean that the final battle of the game has fairly low stakes. Anyone that grew up playing 3D platformers on the N64 will no doubt be instantly transported to that time after starting up this game. You've got multiple worlds to explore, each with a number of Time Pieces to collect, and in order to unlock new worlds you need to meet a certain threshold of Time Pieces. Some worlds allow you to freely roam and uncover secrets on your own while others are more linear or stage-based, but the feel of a classic 3D platformer is perfectly preserved, albeit on a much smaller scale since A Hat in Time only has forty Time Pieces to collect instead of the hundreds of stars, moons, or other MacGuffins littering other games. The result is a shorter but more satisfyingly contained experience, one that still lasts several hours but never drags. And completionists will be pleased to know there are optional collectibles as well if you just can't get enough of uncovering secrets. The game also maintains a brisk pace thanks to Hat Kid's quick, fluid movements. There aren't too many moves to learn here but the ones you have make traversing these elaborate 3D environments pretty simple, and it's relatively easy to correct mistakes thanks to the double jump. Hat Kid is also able to craft and equip different hats to gain new abilities, such as sprinting or lobbing an explosive concoction. In order to make a hat you'll need to collect yarn, including yarn of the hat's specific type, but thankfully yarn is pretty plentiful as you explore. You can also equip badges to further augment your abilities. Most of these are merely optional, helpful boosts, but they're great for customizing your playstyle a bit, or adding some challenge with the one-hit-point-only badge. And although the game is relatively short for its genre, there are a lot of great 3D platforming challenges here and a lot of variety in level design. In only the second world things start to get unique with a rivalry plot that puts you in smaller, enclosed levels that test precision more than pure exploration. That said, A Hat in Time is still quite easy overall, partly just thanks to the lack of a lives/continues system. Recovery orbs are plentiful and if you do die you'll find that checkpoints are pretty plentiful too. The only thing that really makes the game difficult is dealing with a finnicky camera system. It's been decades since those N64 platformers were released, and yet the camera in A Hat in Time is distressingly reminiscent of those problematic times, zooming in too close to you so you can't clearly see around you or locking into obnoxious angles that make jumps more difficult than they need to be, especially when you're jumping to a narrow wire or rope and can barely see Hat Kid's shadow below you. Tight corridors can be extremely annoying to navigate as the camera zooms in and obstructs your view. The game overall is still pretty easy, but missing jumps thanks to an uncooperative camera is frustrating. As I hinted to earlier, A Hat in Time has some technical troubles on the Switch. Loading times are noticeably long, which is annoying but not a huge issue by itself since many games suffer from the same problem. What's disappointing is that even with those long load times the game is terribly optimized for the Switch with occasional frame rate dips in well-populated stages, lots of pop-in visuals, jaggy visuals, and frequent textures that don't fully load or even worse are just plain low-res. The images accompanying this review are not at all indicative of my experience with the game as the visuals were never this clear or smooth. It's a real shame since clearly A Hat in Time has some fun, cute visual design, even if it can be somewhat repetitive, but on the Switch you'll barely be able to enjoy the graphics in the first place. The soundtrack is at least pretty well preserved in this version of the game, and there are a lot of good songs that could go toe to toe with some of the greats of the platformer music world. A Hat in Time is a charming take on the 3D collectathon platformer genre, perhaps all the more impressive for being made by an indie studio, but it's hard to ignore the rampant technical issues that the game suffers on the Switch. You really can't help but feel like you're playing an inferior version of the game when the textures are so muddy and the environments so jaggy. If you're willing to overlook these faults though, A Hat in Time offers a short and cute adventure into charming 3D environments begging to be explored. Rating: 6 out of 10 Hats
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