We breakout with Mr. Pumpkin, guns, balls and cardboard heroes in this first episode.
Welcome to eShopping! In this new weekly feature, we’ll deliver quick thoughts on a selection of the Nintendo eShop's newest offerings. The general rule of the feature is that the games in question are not games that either have or will get full reviews, though there will be exceptions in rare instances. The games can be recent, or at the earliest the last couple of weeks. There’s also attention for a sale that you absolutely shouldn't skip.
Pinball Breakout (Wii U, EU/NA)
Pinball Breakout sees you playing an Arkanoid clone with two paddles. While that might seem easy enough, the mechanics are more frustrating than good. The balls always travel with a curve, making it hard to pull off the shots needed to progress. More often than not, a ball will be stuck at one side of the field and keep flying between the walls. Most of the shots end up flying past the other paddle, since there’s almost no time to react and make contact again. It’s a painful experience unless you manage to have the one good game out of ten. There’s a neat concept here, but the execution isn’t there.
Mr. Pumpkin Adventure (Wii U, EU/NA)
CIRCLE Entertainment brings a lot of surprises to the Nintendo 3DS eShop, so I was shocked to see them with a Wii U release. Mr. Pumpkin Adventure, developed by Cotton Game, is a surprisingly charming point and click style puzzler. Although it doesn’t explain a lot in the beginning, there’s enough hooks that it won me over. It tells the story of Mr. Pumpkin, who lost his memories and is trying to find his purpose in the world. Mr. Pumpkin’s world is a place where nothing makes sense, but it’s certainly a colorful locale. There’s about 50 puzzles to try and work through to restore Mr. Pumpkin’s memories, ranging from finding letters/numbers to box manipulation. And if the puzzle is too tricky, hints can be earned by completing some light platforming. Some of the puzzles can be a bit frustrating, but Mr. Pumpkin Adventure has heart to spare and is a delightful game.
Shooting Gallery by Thornbury Software (Wii U, NA)
Can we have a serious conversation about this? Everything looks, feels and sounds bad in Shooting Gallery by Thornbury Software. It is one of those titles with zero redeeming qualities whatsoever. You shoot a gun at plates, ducks and balloons that don't shatter, but simply just disappear. There are no sound effects or even animations to let you know that you are shooting. For the 12 minutes that this game takes to complete, I just had a blank expression on my face, broken only by the utter amazement that this game passed certification and was allowed to release. Bewildering controls add to this game’s complete lack of quality. There’s not a single moment of fun to be had in this dollar-per-minute game. Do not even LOOK at it.
Collide-a-Ball (Nintendo 3DS, EU)
The puzzle genre on the 3DS is crowded, and Collide-a-Ball doesn’t do much to stand out. It’s a functional game made by professionals, but generally defines “average”. The challenge in all modes is to get balls to reach a common goal, with three different modes to play with. The 30 level Free Play mode should last a while, as you move objects to affect the flight of the balls, but it’s not that challenging to complete. There are 20 levels for “Wait and Go”, in which you release balls on command and hope they move to the goal. With no obstacles in the way, there’s not a lot of challenge involved. Finally, there’s the Single Ball mode which combines the first two modes – releasing balls and dodging obstacles – which is the most fun of the modes, but only lasts 10 levels. Although it’s not too expensive, even an inexperienced puzzle game player can roll through all the content in an afternoon. If you’re looking for good puzzle titles on 3DS, there’s plenty of other fish in the sea.
Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers (Nintendo 3DS, EU/NA)
I love myself a good sidescrolling brawler, which is why I was interested in giving Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers a fair shake. While the characters are animated well in their respective styles, the game is pretty much a bust. As you begin to play with these characters, everyone has a single move that varies in how effective they are. Finn from Adventure Time will use Jake as a hammer to slam down baddies, while Gumball uses a vacuum as a sort of gun. You are just going through the motions as enemies pop up in waves to always slightly overwhelm you. There is never a chance to get the job done without getting hit. Between the waves, it is pretty much a snore fest. Nothing of note really happens and just push forward to those crucial moments. You can pick up gems if you so desire, which can expand the arsenal of your characters. These gems need to be picked up by the character you want to upgrade, which is annoying as Gumball felt the most effective right from the get go. You don't exactly have the desire to try anybody else. After two missions, you encounter a boss together with a bunch more enemy waves. It was a struggle to keep my mind straight, but I survived always by just a slight margin. It was mostly thanks to the figuring out the motions so quickly. Even then, hits aren't guaranteed. The pummels will miss at random intervals, which don't make the odds all that fair.
Pick of the Sales - Paper Monsters Recut (Wii U)
North America: $0.99 (normally $7.99, ends November 10)
If you have a buck to spare, check out the enjoyable Paper Monsters Recut. It’s a delightful 2D platformer in which you follow the adventures of a brave cardboard hero. The game features expansive levels filled with obstacles, enemies and collectibles along the way. With lovely aesthetics and a solid running time, it is a mobile port fully done right. If you are interested in more details about the game, why not check out Kimberly Keller's review? She seemed to enjoy it quite a bit two years ago, scoring it a solid 8.5.