It’s time for another helping of wee-views! These are ‘wee reviews’ of games that I haven’t gotten round to completing, but have played enough of to at least form a fairly solid opinion.
As ever, please do bear in mind that this means the games covered below could get better or worse near the end. For more detailed explanation of the thought process behind wee-views, check out the original wee-view page.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
Nintendo / Good-Feel
How much I’ve played – Up to the end of the Rumble Jungle area (something like the 13th out of 17 worlds)
Japanese developer Good-Feel has very much carved a niche for itself, and there’s no denying it’s been a successful one. However, it’s definitely possible to have too much of a good thing, and Yoshi’s Crafted World may have reached my limit.
Following a pair of woolen adventures in Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Woolly World, Good-Feel is aiming for a hat-trick of handmade happiness with Yoshi’s Crafted World, but in my eyes this time it slightly misses the target.
Somewhat fittingly, this is partly down to an aiming mechanic that doesn’t really work too well. At its core it’s the same as pretty much every other Yoshi’s Island game: eat enemies, throw eggs at stuff, collect flowers, hearts and red coins. However, the addition of a third dimension makes one of these core elements – the egg-throwing – far less intuitive and enjoyable than it has been in the past.
What used to be a seamless throwing mechanic is now an annoying exercise in trial and error as you stop every 20 feet to scan the background for objects to hit – only some of which can be – because Yoshi platforming law dictates that you must explore stages from top to bottom, which results in you smacking the piss out of absolutely everything with eggs in search of those red coins.
When this irritant isn’t taken into account the rest of the game is charming enough. It looks absolutely gorgeous and the stages, all of which look like they were made by an extremely creative child, are clever as hell.
It’s just that this is the sixth Yoshi platformer (not counting the tilt-based and touch-based ones on GBA and DS respectively) and the gameplay really hasn’t evolved much since the SNES original: if anything, given the stuff like transformations in previous games it could be argued that it’s taken a step backwards.
This is the first time in ages that I haven’t felt motivated to complete a Nintendo platformer, and the first time since… well, since Yoshi’s New Island on 3DS that I haven’t found myself humming the music afterwards.
In a way the game suffers purely for being published by Nintendo. Had this been released by any other publisher, its negative points may be easier to forgive, because in the grand scheme of things it’s still a good game.
The problem is that when you’re a company who’s generally known for fantastic games, being merely good has to go down as a slight disappointment.
How much I’ve played – About 50 of the harder Picross puzzles, all 30 Color Picross puzzles
In case you aren’t already aware, I’m an enormous Picross fan.
Ever since yer 12-year-old Scullion discovered the original Mario’s Picross on the Game Boy back in 1995, the release of a new Picross game is usually a moment of great celebration for me.
In recent years these celebrations have been muted a little, purely because we now seem to get a new Picross game every few months. There were no fewer than NINE games in the Picross e series on the 3DS eShop, and it looks like the Switch is following suit: just two years into the system’s life we’re onto the third Picross S game already.
Despite being developed by Jupiter – the studio responsible for that Game Boy original, its SNES sequel, the fantastic DS follow-up and every other Picross title since – these digital-only 3DS and Switch affairs are generally fairly vanilla releases, with none of the bells, whistles or personality of their predecessors.
That’s the case again here: Picross S3 is a by-the-numbers game (literally) with a decent helping of puzzles. There are 150 standard images to solve, in either Picross or the harder Mega Picross mode: both feature the same pictures, though Nintendo cleverly counts them as 300 puzzles in the eShop blurb. Meanwhile, the returning Clip Picross – where you unlock small puzzles that join together to make a larger picture – offers another five super-sized pics containing a total of 60 mini-puzzles.
The only new addition here is Color Picross, which adds the ability to change the colour of your pen and adds a new level of strategy. However, while Jupiter is keen to herald this as a new thing, by now it’s been done plenty of times in third-party Picross clones, some of which are already on the Switch (see Pic-a-Pix Deluxe or Picture Painting Puzzle 1000), and the fact there are only 30 color puzzles here is a bit rubbish.
Much like the other Picross e and Picross S games, Picross S3 doesn’t really do anything wrong: anyone who’s into Picross will find another solid helping of puzzles here for under a tenner. It’s just that at this point it’s all starting to feel a little samey, especially if you’re the sort (like me) who’s already played through 12 previous entries on 3DS and Switch.
Dead Or Alive 6
Koei Tecmo / Team Ninja
Xbox One, PS4, PC (Xbox One version reviewed)
How much I’ve played – beaten the Arcade mode a few times, halfway through the Story mode
I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Dead Or Alive games, in that I love playing them but hate the idea of anyone knowing I do.
I’m very much of the opinion that it’s the most satisfying fighting game for those who don’t take them too seriously. If learning lengthy combos that require frame-by-frame timing isn’t your sort of thing, Dead Or Alive has always been there for simple ‘punch, kick, throw, counter’ controls that effortlessly make you feel like you’re in a Jackie Chan fight scene.
However, it would be downright ignorant to suggest that in past games in the series haven’t been a little… well, grotty, when it comes to the way it depicts its female characters, with comically exaggerated bouncing breasts and costumes so skimpy you’d find yourself surprised they made polygons that small.
Interestingly, Dead Or Alive 6 – well, the base version, at least – is surprisingly restrained when it comes to the more salacious side of things. Pretty much all of the female fighters’ costumes are sensible, breast bounce has been reduced noticeably and the whole thing suddenly feels oddly above board.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there’ll eventually be plenty of DLC that lets you dress its women in a bikini made out of a single thread of fishing wire and the like, but the standard package focuses commendably on the actual fighting, forcing fans to become the gaming equivalent of people who buy Playboy because they swear they love reading the articles.
If you’ve never played a DOA game before, I’d recommend getting the free-to-play version, DOA 6 Core Fighters, which gives you one or two characters and lets you suss out the fighting mechanics and the like. If you like that, you can then buy the full game – which unlocks all the characters and includes a hilariously terrible and lengthy story mode – safe in the knowledge that you already know you like it.
Happy with this one.
Sega / Demiurge Studios
Android, iOS (Android version reviewed)
How much I’ve played – An hour or so a day for the past six months
Every few months I find a new mobile game to get addicted to, before I eventually get sick of its free-to-play microtransaction bullshit and move on.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, WWE Supercard, WWE Mayhem, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Disney Heroes… all have come, all have dominated ny life, all have eventually been deleted for the purposes of cold turkey.
The current ‘permanent’ fixture on my phone is Sega Heroes, a match three puzzler that sticks to the usual routine you’d expect from similar games – gather a squad, each with their own abilities – but does so with Sega characters.
While there are the main characters you’d expect (mainly ones from the Sonic games), there’s an impressive selection of slightly more obscure heroes, a selection that’s growing on pretty much a fortnightly basis.
Characters generally come in groups of four per game, so with Streets Of Rage, for example, you can get Axel, Blaze, Adam and Mr X. At the time of writing there are also foursomes representing Shinobi, Super Monkey Ball, Crazy Taxi, The House Of The Dead, Golden Axe, Phantasy Star and Jet Set Radio, and they’re in the process of adding Valkyria Chronicles characters.
The actual game is entertaining enough and while there’s obviously a huge element of luck involved in any match three puzzler, each character’s unique skills means there’s at least some degree of strategy in there too.
Obviously, though, this is still a game that tries to make you spend money at all times, but thankfully you don’t have to: I’ve managed to build a pretty kick-ass team without spending a penny, mainly because the ‘offers’ are so ridiculously overpriced that buying anything doesn’t even enter my head.
£38.99 for a ‘guarantee’ of anything from 21-196 shards for Tails, when I need 200 to level him up? So nearly forty quid and I’d still be in the same position? Naw, you’re alright pal.
As with many games of its type, Sega Heroes is fun as long as you’re willing to be patient and turn it more into a daily routine than something you need to play through quickly. As you your team slowly grows free of charge, so too does the satisfying feeling of screwing the fat cats. And I’m not talking about adult-themed Big sketches on DeviantArt.
Rainy Frog / Score Studios
How much I’ve played – completed around 100 puzzles
So, Picross S3 is more of the same, so how does the latest third-party alternative fare? Pretty well, actually.
Piczle Colors has the same basic principles of other colour-based Picross games but adds a couple of new rules to mix things up a bit. Some of the number clues are in circles (which means the colours appear in corresponding squares) whereas others aren’t (which means they can appear anywhere on the line).
What’s more, these clues aren’t actually in any order, which means if you see a 2, 3, 6 it doesn’t necessarily mean two red squares followed by three blue ones then six green ones.
I appreciate this is all really hard to explain in written form but there’s a brief yet useful tutorial at the start that more or less prepares you for what to come.
Although it sounds more complex it’s actually fairly easy to get the hang of, and in no time I found myself firing through the first half of its 300 or so puzzles at speed (though bear in mind I do the same with standard Picross puzzles: if those take you a while these probably will too).
It isn’t perfect: the controls feel a little loose, and whether you’re playing with the D-Pad, analogue stick or even the touchscreen you’ll regularly colour more squares than you intended and have to erase some.
Still, if you’re looking from a change from the usual Picross routine, this is a pretty good alternative.
Microsoft Studios / Electric Square
How much I’ve played – Beaten the first few chapters of the story, earned nine cars
The two Forza series – Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon – are my favourite racers this generation, so I was surprised to see this spin-off arrive with very little fanfare.
After downloading and trying it out, I can sort of understand why: this isn’t so much a racing game as it is a free-to-play rhythm game with an energy system (and is actually a renamed Miami Street, which Microsoft launched a year ago).
After getting your first car, you take on a series of one-on-one races against various CPU opponents, but the controls are extremely limited. You simply hold the spacebar (or the left mouse button, or touch the tablet screen), letting go as you enter corners and holding it down again when you exit them.
On-screen indicators show you the optimum time to let go and hold down the button, meaning the game is literally just a case of moving one finger as your car passes through various sections (albeit with the addition of a recharging nitro boost whenever you feel you need some extra speed).
The more races you win the more currency you get, which can then be spent on upgrades for your existing cars or loot boxes to try and win new cars. And, of course, you can spend real money to speed this process up.
It’s all a wee bit shit, then, and even though it does look quite pretty it’s really little more than a free-to-play series of quicktime events. If the rumours are true that this one might be coming to Switch, it might be best to steer clear of it. Because at least then you’ll be able to actually steer.
How much I’ve played – beaten 7 out of 14 bosses
While all eyes were on the release of Cuphead on Switch last month (including mine, hence my review for Nintendo Life), many failed to notice a similar title already on the Switch eShop.
Mechstermination Force may not have Cuphead’s unique art style, but it shares a lot when it comes to the game’s general idea: a series of elaborate and difficult boss battles.
A total of 14 giant robots have invaded, and it’s up to a group of soldiers to destroy them all and save the day. You’re initially armed with a baseball bat (to destroy their red energy cores) and a machine gun (to basically blow up everything else), but as you defeat each boss you earn money that can be used to buy upgrades like more health and better guns.
Each boss fight is a treat: the majority consist of multi-stage battles where the screen-filling bosses transform numerous times. I tweeted an example earlier:
Occasionally you’ll also get new abilities which help add a bit of variety to the battles. When you get the ability to stick your boots to metallic surfaces, for example, you can start climbing up the side of some bosses, Shadow Of The Colossus style.
I haven’t found time to finish Mechstermination Force yet but I’ve loved what I’ve played so far, so I’m definitely going to.
Pixel Puzzle Collection
Android / iOS (Android version reviewed)
How much I’ve played – 87% completion (435/500 puzzles)
Still looking for more Picross? Jesus, you’re insatiable.
Luckily, there’s a surprisingly brilliant Picross style game available on mobile devices, and it’s properly free-to-play in the best sense.
Pixel Puzzle Collection is part of Konami’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and each of its 500 puzzles is a sprite from a classic game.
As well as categories dedicated to sprites from Gradius, Parodius, Bomberman, Castlevania and Tokimeki Memorial (because everyone loves a dating sim), there are also general categories that take in a variety of games: Action, Shooting, Thinking, Sports and Variety.
Every three hours a new ‘boss’ puzzle appears: these are parts of larger images made up of 16 puzzles. It’s not really clear why there’s a timer on these, because you can’t actually spend money to speed things up. But ah well.
The only real money-making aspect of this are the slightly annoying ads for other Konami games and apps that appear right in front of you every time you return to the menu. Once you get used to anticipating and closing these, though, you’re left with a genuinely brilliant Picross game for the princely sum of fuck all pence.
Review code for Yoshi’s Crafted World, Dead Or Alive 6, Piczle Colors and Mechstermination Force was provided by PRs. I bought Picross S3 with my own money and the rest are free-to-play. The opinions in my reviews are in no way influenced by how I received the games.
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I’ve really been liking Pixel Puzzle Collection so far, but I’m not a big fan of the boss puzzles. I like the idea of larger puzzles with multiple pieces, but especially given just how many boss puzzles there are, the rate at which you can try them seems rather slow, on top of not being able to choose which one to work on (I *think* it’s more likely to give you pieces to puzzles you’ve already started, but I’m not sure on that). I reckon another way to unlock them would be appreciated (say, by completing x puzzles from a certain category you unlock a boss puzzle from that category?).
Grear post 😄