Eighty-nine penny sweets. Just under a third of a modern-day Beano. One used copy of Waterworld on DVD. 89p doesn’t buy much these days. Amazingly though, it can still get you a Switch game. We put three budget-price buys through their paces.
Pocket Mini Golf
This softly coloured arcade game makes a good first impression. It has nice, simple, graphics and smooth animation. It even has touchscreen support. Is this a hidden gem? Nope.
Most cheap games on the eShop are repurposed mobile titles. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, the ghostly remains of Pocket Mini Golf’s microtransactions still haunt it.
Every course presents you with two objectives. Hit your ball into the gem, then into the hole with just three shots. There’s a certain amount of pleasure in working out exactly how to achieve that, and obtaining the gem isn’t necessary – you can focus on simply putting the ball.
If you fail, you must spend gems to skip the level. Originally, it was possible to purchase more – a ‘feature’ since removed, with nothing to replace it. Even more infuriating is that you need to spend gems to continue your game. Don’t have enough? Oh well, you need to start from scratch.
Worse still, the Switch’s touchscreen isn’t pleasant to use, making this game annoying to control by touch. It’s an experience far removed from playing on a small, easy to hold, mobile device.
Taking a mobile game and putting it on Switch is fine in principle, but developers need to consider how different the hardware is and adapt their games to become fuller experiences.
Score: 2 webbed hands out of 5.
Knights are the best pieces in chess. Disagree? Suck it – you’re wrong.
What we have here is a simple puzzle game. Take two chess knights (or, in a twist no one saw coming, more than two knights) and swap them over. Easy? You must have forgotten that they move in weird L-shape formations.
Again, the graphics are smart and minimalist, and it features both touchscreen and controller options. There are lots of twists to the formula, including portals and playing using both the top and underside of the playing board.
This is a neat little puzzler, even if it never goes beyond being something more than that. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes chess, or anyone who wants to work on visualising the moves that knights make. Niche, I know.
Score: Four pontoons out of five.
There’s a misconception, perhaps fuelled by angry YouTube personalities, that critics enjoy slagging off bad games. For the record, I don’t. A lot of games these days are made by one person, desperately struggling to make a living. The availability of tools like Unity means that not only are small teams more feasible, and even likely these days, but the game you are savaging could be the work of a child or someone’s first attempt. You don’t want to be the person that snuffs out a passion.
No, being mean to a game isn’t fun. It’s no fun at all.
With that out the way, Croc’s World is shit. Total and utter shit.
It’s a platformer in the mould of Super Mario Bros. You go from left to right, jumping on enemies, gathering gems, and collecting power-ups. These include the 100% original helmet, which allows you to break blocks by bashing them with your head, and stones that can be fired at the enemy.
Everything here is inept. The animations don’t transition correctly, so when Croc kicks the bucket he just floats downwards. And when you land on flying enemies, they stop dead in their tracks and move to the bottom of the screen like a PowerPoint animation.
There are clear gaps when jumping on enemies, and the hitbox’s transparent parts never overlap. When you reach the end of a level Croc just comes to a standstill and the next level starts. No fanfare. No sound effects. Just a dead stop. Even the music continues from where it left off. Oh, and the music is insidious. It’s what plays on the speakers at Guantanamo Bay.
Worse of all, I don’t think the developer understands level design or the game’s clear inspirations. The levels are dull and one-directional – sometimes the gems you must collect are arranged in an arrow to follow, even though there’s only one way to go! Other games do this to highlight the path ahead, or let you choose alternative routes. Here, it’s just a decoration.
Oh, and it’s ugly. Really ugly. Uglier than Crocs shoes.
There’s a free demo if you want to check it out. Maybe this game is paying someone’s rent. Maybe this game was made with fire and passion and maybe if that person is reading this it will make them sad. If you are reading this, SprakelSoft, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be mean.
Score: 0 Kevins out of Cosner.
Main image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/rossendalewadey/8059623323