Considering the source material, there probably was a lot more potential in terms of story or characterisation but when all is said and done, shooters don't tend to dwell too much on nuance. Tesla vs Lovecraft is a competent top-down, twin-stick shooter and arguably the most polished title in the developer's catalogue. Taking the fun but limited template of Crimsonland and building an entertaining and visually striking, but familiar and repetitive experience. It's unlikely to get pulses racing in terms of original gameplay, however, the perks system, crazy weapons and relentless explosive action should spark enthusiasm among fans of the genre.
Make no mistake about it - Flinthook is a really well crafted, charming and fun experience. To a certain extent, however, it feels impeded by the constraints of its genre. It is one of tightest action platformers and addictive rogue likes around, but due to the randomly generated levels, you will encounter the odd frustrating spike in difficulty or structurally very similar areas in close proximity. These complaints are reduced to niggles though due to its charm, personality and action packed gameplay. This trek across the galaxy is sometimes a tough and repetitive one, but it's also incredibly enjoyable.
A competent and authentic 8-bit experience, A Hole New World will be enjoyed by many a retro fan out there, but the some of its mechanical elements are faithful almost to its detriment. Travelling between the dual worlds is cool, but utilised without much ambition or variety. While certainly not a bad game, the methods employed to enforce difficulty feel cheap and frustrating, rather than motivating or rewarding. A few of the bosses are visually impressive, but there isn't much here structurally or gameplay wise that particularly stand out . If you're looking for another title with more nostalgia and 'traditional' challenge rather than sadistic, fast-paced, twitch-based platformers, then A Hole New World is an adequate game that will bring back many memories of the 8-bit era, for better or worse.
Frederic: Evil Strikes Back is a pretty 'by the numbers' sequel, and despite the (still quite low) track list being superior to the first, the characters, dialogue and presentation niggles still remain. There's plenty of personality to the tracks, and seeing Chopin go up against stadium rockers is strange yet amusing, but the satire and parodies from the first game miss the mark more often than not this time round. The visuals are still bold, and you'll have an enjoyable experience if you can overcome its shortcomings. While Deemo and even VOEZ are still the best of the genre on Nintendo Switch, Frederick: Evil Strikes Back's mix of interesting reinterpretations of classical compositions and sometimes charming art style are still worth a go.
There's a decent amount of fun to be had with Earth Wars before a degree of monotony sets in. What starts out as a pretty slick, if straightforward 2D side-scrolling brawler fleshed out by a huge wealth of loot to gather, weapons to customise and skill stats to unlock, It never moves the needle far enough in either variety or innovation to truly hold interest for extended periods. Sure, there's just enough nuance in the combat and giant bosses to slay to you keep coming back, but the uninspired missions and derivative characters never let it realise its full potential.
Celeste is an exemplary amalgamation of style, mechanics and character. A devilishly brilliant action platformer with enough skill required to excite genre purists and the speed running community, while at the same time featuring a breakdown of gameplay elements to customize and cater for all audiences. While the game mechanically is great, if familiar, the art style and narrative are truly special, showing both a visual and emotional range and depth that will resonate and inspire. Celeste is the absolute peak of personal exploration and discovery on Nintendo Switch.
Even if it sounds cliché, Gunhouse really is a game of two halves. On the one hand you have an immensely attractive looking title with a wonderfully unique art style, some amazing music and over the top characters. After a few rounds though, it feels like they are trying to mask what is underneath - a simple and sometimes frustrating sliding block puzzle game. The rules seem a bit too restrictive given the interesting melding of genres, especially how the controls in docked mode aren't ideal compared to using using the touchscreen in handheld mode. When things do click though, and there's a barrage of crazy firepower at your disposal. If you can embrace the craziness and forgive the missteps, the game becomes an immensely satisfying and addictive experience.
While Baseball Riot has a simple, quirky, challenging and meaty campaign, there is a real sense of deja vu. The art style and core mechanics are virtually the same as its prequel, and although it is aesthetically vivid and satisfying to beat a difficult stage or line up a perfect shot to obliterate a row of nasty foes, the grind you go through to beat it might deplete that addictive nature that puzzle games such as this strive for. All in all, the game ends up being a solid, but often frustrating and wholly unoriginal experience.
Get past the iffy localisation and maybe the cutesy characters if you have to, and DragonfangZ is a fun and interesting genre mash up. The roguelike element makes it ideal for a quick pick up and play session, but you'll also be rewarded if you invest more time to build up stats and learn the increasingly deep systems that are more in line with traditional JRPGs. All in all, it's simple-looking yet increasingly deep experience, one that can be as absorbing as it is perplexing.