The Detective Pikachu Movie Has Received a Release Date

Last week, we received the news that Ryan Reynolds would be voicing the starring role of Detective Pikachu in the upcoming movie. Following on from previous news, it seems that the film has more or less filled out its cast and is nearing the production phase of development. To back this up, word has recently broken that the release date has been set.

Detective Piakchu will be releasing on 10th May, 2019. It stood to reason that this would probably be a summer blockbuster, though the timing of its release certainly raises some eyebrows. Marvel’s Avengers 4—the conclusion of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe—will be releasing one week earlier, and that likely will dominate the box office for weeks. Hopefully, Detective Pikachu finds its niche, because if it does succeed, perhaps more Pokémon movies could be made.

What do you think? How will this movie perform? Will you go see it when it releases? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Review: Mutant Mudds Collection (Switch eShop)

The Mutant Mudds series has seen its fair share of love from critics and players alike over the last few years; the wonderful Mutant Mudds won us all over when it originally released on 3DS (and then again in a deluxe version for Wii U), and then Mutant Mudds Super Challenge came along, taking everything we already knew and loved and turning every aspect up to eleven. Now we have Mutant Mudds Collection on Switch – a package which includes both of these games in their entirety and throws in a brand new puzzle game for good measure. Lovely stuff!

From the main menu you’ll have the option to jump into any of the two previously released titles as you see fit; there are online leaderboards for each game and you can have up to three save files on them, too. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the Mutant Mudds games are retro-inspired platformers that are essentially moulded around a very simple set of controls and rules. You work your way through a number of levels with only a hover jump, three lives and a water gun to see you through, jumping back and forth between sections at different levels of depth from the screen.

The general layout of each level is fairly similar; with a limited set of actions you’ll never be left wondering what to do and even the enemy types don’t vary all that much. Despite this, things get fiendishly tricky rather quickly and reaching the end of each level with all 100 golden diamonds in your possession can be a huge challenge. The difficulty comes in the precision that you must achieve and the need to master your hover jump and water gun skills to absolute perfection.

The first game, Mutant Mudds Deluxe, is made up of an initial twenty levels – each containing hidden exits that make you play through harder sections to reach a second end-goal – as well as a kind of alternate universe which sees you play through much harder versions of the original twenty levels. The game starts with a tutorial to help you to learn the basics (you’ll definitely want to start with this game if you’ve never played any entries to the series before), and then you’re away – running and gunning your way through various muddy monsters.

Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is a completely different beast entirely; the basic idea, controls, look, and feel are identical to the first game in many ways, but the overall difficulty is increased to a rather staggering degree. This game also introduces boss fights (which add a nice – but challenging – change to the usual gameplay), more collectables to find in each level, and twenty unlockable characters for you to find within the game’s courses. We should point out that we’re not exaggerating the difficulty level here in any way; the first game was already tough in its later stages, but Super Challenge is really designed for the hardcore platforming fans out there – you should expect to die a lot.

There is also a third option to select on the main menu: Mudd Blocks. This is a puzzle game that has been newly released for this collection and features several ways to play. The basic idea is to create chains of coloured blocks that will all explode and clear from the screen when a bomb is thrown down towards them and, if you love your old school-styled vertical monitor displays, there is also support for a TATE mode layout. There is an ‘endless mode’, where you simply aim for a high score, two-player versus and co-op offerings which see the game be played in split-screen, and several different other ways to play which are easily the best of the bunch.

‘Rescue’ has you trying to break someone out of a cage in what turns out to be a rather stressful back and forth of making sure to damage the cage when possible, but also keeping the surrounding blocks safe from reaching the top of the screen and ending the game. Another of our favourites, ‘Numbers’, sees you having to blow up particular blocks in a set order – the moment you destroy a block that isn’t next numerically, you lose. If you already own both of the main games Mudd Blocks might not be quite enough to warrant another purchase to those inclined not to double / triple dip, and we would say that more detailed in-game instructions showing how the game actually works wouldn’t go amiss. It is, however, a very welcome addition that makes this collection just that little bit more special.

The overall aesthetic of this package is as wonderful as the games have always been; the retro feel has been captured perfectly with bright, vibrant, sprite-based visuals and a cracking chiptune soundtrack. The game feels particularly good in handheld mode, although it does also work absolutely fine on the TV; it’s just a shame that the 3D display features can’t be realised on Switch. It is evidently clear that the levels were made for the 3DS – the changes in depth worked wonders with the stereoscopic display of that console – but, of course, this just isn’t possible on Switch.

In a way, Mutant Mudds shouldn’t be as great as it is. The levels are arguably quite repetitive (particularly in the first game), and the lack of new enemy types or changes in the actions that you must perform is something that we’d usually consider for criticism. However, everything about how this game plays is marvellous; the tightness of your character’s controls and the satisfaction you feel from jumping around each level give it that quality it needs to be considered a truly great platformer. The games are super tough, and many players will struggle to see them through to 100% completion, but they are pure, addictive fun.

Conclusion

Mutant Mudds Collection gives Nintendo Switch owners the chance to own two fantastic platforming games in one handy, portable package, as well as a nice extra in the new puzzle game, Mudd Blocks. The difficulty of these games may well put a reasonable amount of players off – Mutant Mudds Super Challenge in particular is one nasty fiend – but the overall quality of the two original titles places this collection amongst the best within its genre that the eShop can offer. If you love platformers, and you don’t mind a hefty challenge, do yourself a favour and buy this game.

Capcom Could Be Bringing Even More Ports To Nintendo Switch

It was only a few hours ago we reported on Square Enix expressing renewed interest in opening up its digital back catalogue to Switch thanks to a very strong first nine months for the console, and now it looks like it’s not the only Japanese publishing powerhouse potentially planning exciting things for Nintendo’s premier hardware.

According to a tweet by Dr Serkan Toto – the Tokyo-based CEO for games consultancy firm Kantan Games – Japanese financial newspaper The Nikkei conducted in an interview with Capcom CEO Kenzo Tsujimoto in which the big cheese revealed Nintendo Switch’s handheld/tabletop premise has turned out better than expected. More importantly, he added that Capcom is now considering bringing even more titles to the platform – more specifically, those that have yet to make an appearance on a Nintendo console.

With Capcom already digging deep into its portfolio with the very successful ports of Resident Evil Revelations Collection and the 12-game-strong 30th Anniversary Street Fighter Collection (due out next year), it’s clear Capcom is all in when it comes to Switch.

So what franchises could Capcom be potentially considering? We’re quietly hoping for the first two Dino Crisis because dinosaurs, but what do you want to see it bring in 2018 and beyond? Sound off, below! 

Review: Plantera Deluxe (Switch eShop)

Gardening is said to be good for your health. It can relieve stress, help combat anxiety and depression, and improve your overall mental wellbeing. Studies conducted in the past have proven caring for a plant or garden is therapeutic and can better a person’s quality of life. So how does a video game about a virtual garden sound? In Plantera Deluxe you’ll start out with some carrots and eventually have an entire orchard filled with fruit trees, berry shrubs, vegetable patches and even animals populating the space.  

It’s a relatively basic concept and one that doesn’t require too much input from the player as it is an incremental game. Depending on your own play style, you’ll either be doing a lot of button pressing or finger tapping when you visit your garden. When you aren’t about, light blue creatures referred to as “helpers” will continue to care for your garden while you’re away from the game. This means, when you return, you’ll receive a large sum of money based on your garden’s earnings.

Despite its simple premise, Plantera is still a very addictive game that can be hard to put down. If you’re a bit lost to begin with you can always refer to the game’s extensive help menu. Here you’ll be informed about the basics as well as the finer points of the game. To start out, you only have a single patch of veggies. From here onwards, you earn money every time you grow and pick the fruit and vegetables from your garden. This is tied to a levelling system, so as you plant more trees and grow more fruit and vegetables you’ll unlock more vegetation, animals and helpful items such as manure to speed up the growth of plants and the overall cycle enabling you to earn more money at an even faster rate.

Although you can play this title at a relaxed pace, it’s hard not to get caught in the moment. Before you know, you’ll likely be repeatedly tapping buttons to assist your helpers as they pick the fruit and vegetables in your garden. Animals and insects that inhabit your garden provide additional coin. Chickens will lay eggs and cows will drop bottles of milk while tapping on a butterfly will award you with even more cash. Friendly horses are included in the deluxe version of the game as well. There are also predators that put your garden and animals that reside within it at risk. These include rogue moles, rabbits that eat most of the plants, wolves and foxes that scare your animals and pesky magpies that steal the fruit from the trees. Fortunately, you can hire the services of dogs to scare away certain predators and also erect scarecrows to deal with the threats from above. It’s this part of the game that can be slightly stressful at times, as it definitely works against the idea that gardens are a place of relaxation.

You’ll quickly get to a point in the game where you realise your garden has become too crowded. This is when it’s time for an expansion. By clicking on one of the signposts on either side of the garden, you can expand the boundaries for a hefty sum of money. Once you’ve done this, you continue expanding with more trees, bushes and vegetable patches. Within a few casual sessions you should have a reasonably sized garden, and be earning a lot more coin than you were when you originally started out. You can also have a bigger garden in the deluxe edition of the game, and even decorate your garden in a special Christmas theme.

Star shards are what add longevity to the game, which is an added bonus considering how few unlocks there actually are. Once you have unlocked every item, you’ll receive a yellow star shard, making it worth more when sold. When five star shards have been gathered you then unlock a green star shard, making it worth even more again. If you can obtain five green shards you’ll earn the ultimate super star upgrade, further increasing the value of items. This entire process adds an extra sense of purpose to your progression. The 21 achievements also add extra life to the game, with standard objectives included such as expanding the garden multiple times, planting a total of 100 plants, buying hundreds of animals, collecting 500 butterflies or bashing 50 moles.

Plantera has already had countless releases, including on the 3DS and Wii U eShop. The deluxe addition on the Switch doesn’t really change the game, but at least looks fantastic on the big screen and in the handheld mode. Aesthetically, the vivid and colourful sprites work well with the ambiance provided by the game’s soundtrack. The ability to use buttons or the touchscreen controls is also a thoughtful inclusion; however both of these options have issues. The analogue control is not as smooth as it could be, and the touch controls lack precision. Ideally, if you have a compatible stylus on hand, that’s an option to consider. Else you’ll just have to stick it out with the default controls.

Conclusion

Plantera Deluxe is definitely a relaxing change of pace from the average video game experience. Often we’re encouraged by games to work hard for a reward, whereas in this game, you can to some extent step back and let nature take its course. Of course, if this isn’t your style, you can also actively participate in your garden’s development on a regular basis to accelerate the process and ultimately unlock new content or earn more coin at an increased rate. How you approach this title is up to yourself. Some might find it to be a shallow experience, or even resent this type of game because of its mobile and free-to-play heritage, but if you’re willing to give it a chance on the Switch, it’s a great game suitable for everyone and perfect for unwinding in between sessions of major releases. 

Review: River City: Rival Showdown (3DS)

Following on from last year’s River City: Tokyo Rumble, Natsume is taking the rough ‘n’ tumble Kunio-Kun out for another spin in a follow up action game. River City: Rival Showdown largely follows the same beats as its predecessor, but refines many of its ideas down into a tighter and more enjoyable experience. Though it still isn’t perfect, particularly in terms of its difficulty curve, this is a worthy entry in the series and an excellent 3DS beat ’em up, to boot.

River City: Rival Showdown sees you take control of Kunio-Kun, the baddest kid on the streets, as you defend your turf against the encroaching threat of a pair of powerful twin brothers. After they wipe the floor with you in an initial encounter, you’re given three days to prep before they battle you again. In this time, you can explore around town beating up thugs, eating ramen noodles, and buying new outfits in your bid to be the toughest fighter out there.

Essentially, it’s a retro beat ‘em up, with open world and RPG elements sprinkled in for good measure. You’ll run around the city as Kunio-Kun and fight hordes of rival gang members from other neighborhoods and schools through a combination of punches, kicks, throws, and special moves. Chaining together combos and flooring groups of enemies can be immensely satisfying, and things get more interesting as you level up Kunio and unlock new abilities. It’s a simplistic form of combat to be sure, but it’s easy to pick up and still poses enough of a challenge that seasoned gamers won’t be turned off too early.

You have three days to train up Kunio as much as you can before the big confrontation, and what you do with that time is largely up to you. ‘Events’ will be taking place in various other parts of town – denoted by an exclamation point – and you can choose which ones to walk to. Usually these result in some story-based fight, the outcome of which will effect which of the multiple endings you’ll receive upon completing the game. Along the way, of course, you can pick fights with thugs you find in the streets, or they’ll pick fights with you. And when you’re not brawling it out, you can eat some stat boosting food at a restaurant or kit Kunio out in new clothes that raise stats and add other effects. All of this combines for a satisfying feedback loop that empowers the player at a decent rate while also keeping the pressure on to always be improving.

Issues do exist, however, with large difficulty spikes that persist throughout your adventure. The random fights you get into when traversing the world are just that, so you never know whether you’ll be fighting a squad you can take or one that will positively steamroll you. It’s not uncommon for you to get in a fight with a group of thugs that you knock out in about three hits each, only to be followed a few minutes later by a squad of iron-skinned superhumans that easily overcome your pathetic resistance. This can lead to uneven pacing, as you receive experience and money in stints that vary from you rapidly progressing in a short window of time to more or less halting progress altogether. A more smoothly judged difficulty curve would be appreciated here, and while the option to run away from fights is always there, it runs counter-intuitive to the point of the core mechanics.

There’s some multiplayer options here, too, which help pad out the package. If another friend has a copy of the game, you can choose to tackle the story mode in co-op, but the real meat comes in with the new Double Dragon Duo mode. This one can be played through download play, too, and it essentially crosses over beat ’em up gameplay with a fighting game. You pick from a roster of characters and duke it out in a 2D ring, punching and kicking your foe (or bludgeoning them with the crowbar that drops in the middle) while utilizing a range of character-specific moves to gain the edge. It’s great and provides a mostly distinct experience form the main mode, yet there’s enough similarities that it doesn’t feel out of place as an additional piece of the main package.

From a presentation perspective, River City: Rival Showdown is rather forgettable, but it nonetheless gets the job done. The story mode sees 2D sprites moving about on more or less photorealistic backdrops, making it feel a bit like a diorama in motion. The issue with this is that the environments lack significant detail and feel rather static and lifeless, like you’re moving in front of a picture instead of a place. Granted, the visuals aren’t all that important in a release like this, but it still feels like more could’ve been done on this front to make the game feel a little more animated. The soundtrack is similar; there’s a few catchy beats here or there, but the largely-synth based music is mostly just there to fill space. It manages to set a good pace and tone for the action, though, which is a nice plus.

Conclusion

All told, River City: Rival Showdown is a worthwhile beat ’em up game, certainly worth the price of admission. Though the oscillating difficulty curve and the ho-hum presentation hold it back from true greatness, this is a game that no beat ’em up fans will want to miss out on, and it also stands as a great entry point for those looking to try out the genre or this particular series. We’d give this one a strong recommendation; between the meaty campaign and the fun side mode, River City: Rival Showdown will likely hold your attention for some time.

Final Fantasy And More Could One Day Arrive On Switch As Square Enix Considers Future Ports

We all know Switch is the hottest place to be right now, especially when it comes to giving classic titles a new lease of life – just look at the recently announced Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection – so you’ll be pleased as punch to learn Japanese publishing giant Square Enix is keen to get some of its digital back catalogue on Switch. Especially when it comes to bringing older titles to the attention of younger Switch owners.

CEO Yosuke Matsuda told MCV in a recent interview:

One of our other big initiatives is to get as many of our past titles available via digital releases. Among the younger generations of gamers, you’ve got lots of people out there who may have heard of our past titles, but have never had an opportunity to play them.

Matsuda goes on to say that simply porting versions as they are onto Switch wouldn’t be its strategy if a Switch-focused program was to be undertaken:

So we think that programme of porting and transferring the older titles over to newer platforms, such as the Switch, is very important. So that people get that awareness of our back catalogue. Just straight ports isn’t cutting it, we need to update those and modernise them to make something that works for modern gamers too.

Could we eventually see some of the biggest and most beloved titles from Square Enix hit Switch? Classic Final Fantasy, anyone? Or maybe Secret of Mana, which is coming to PS4 and PS Vita, but not Switch? Do the right thing, Square Enix…

Review: WWE 2K18 (Switch)

Disclaimer: At the time of writing, developer Blind Squirrel has yet to patch the significant performance problems hampering WWE 2K18 on Switch, so we’ve published our review – and a score that reflects its current state – in full below. However, we do know that a patch is being worked on, so in the interest of fairness we will be updating this review as and when a fix goes live.


The wait is over. Fiiiiiiinally, WWE has come back to a Nintendo platform following five long years away. It should be a dream homecoming, fans leaping for joy in the crowd while pyrotechnics boom in every direction. Unfortunately, that returning fan favourite has stumbled on the ramp, fallen flat on their face and caused everyone within a five mile radius to facepalm in toe-curling embarrassment. Those fans have stopped cheering and the pyro has gone out with a whimper, because WWE 2K18 is one of the worst ports on Switch to date.

On other platforms, the latest addition to Yukes and Visual Concepts’ long-running sports entertainment sim is a comprehensive if ultimately uninspiring instalment. While it offers the biggest launch roster yet and plenty of online and offline modes, it lacks any real innovation to justify the full-fat price tag. In theory, such an iteration should be revitalised on Switch, by the simple virtue of once again being under the Nintendo banner and offering wrestling action on the go. But in practice, WWE 2K18 is a port that simply wasn’t ready for release, one dogged by performance issues that render some modes painful to endure and others simply unplayable.

Graphically, we all knew a triple-A game as big as this was going to take a hit in order to fit on Switch, so the reduction in character model details, the absence of many lighting effects and the noticeable lack of activity from the crowd are to be expected. For the most part, the visual downgrade isn’t that much of an issue – especially in handheld mode – but it’s consistently inconsistent, with some models looking not too far removed from their PS4/Xbox One counterparts while others look like they’ve just walked out of a PS2-era locker room.

It’s an element you could forgive for a first swing of the Switch-shaped bat if it weren’t for the woeful performance issues that dog WWE 2K18 at every turn. Right from the main menu, you know something’s amiss. Even the static character models in the background shudder as they move to reflect your transition though match and mode options. When you finally kick off a match, the problems start to snowball. Entrances suffer from horrendous slowdown, causing wrestlers with time-sensitive intros to move in a bizarre slow-mo while their music plays at normal speed. You’ve not experienced the true meaning of cringe until you’ve watched Finn Balor’s entrance as he flings his arms into the air, missing his audio cue every single time.

Okay, so the menus and the entrances are off, but we can skip those, right? It’s the meat and potatoes of the in-ring action that matters. Well, prepare to have your enthusiasm laid out by an RKO outta nowhere because the frame-rate problems persist. Having any more than two wrestlers on-screen at one time causes the game to plummet to single frame figures. A maximum of six wrestlers can be in the ring at any one time, but by that point you’re basically playing a flipbook version of Monday Night Raw. It’s so bad the developers straight up removed any of the eight-man match variants present in the other versions of the game. Eight wrestlers on screen would probably have made the game card catch fire in your Switch, so count yourselves lucky.

One on one matches run relatively smoothly by comparison, but even then the action in the ring moves at a slightly slower pace, as if it’s been dialled down to 75% speed as part of the porting process. This small adjustment in turn throws off many of the game’s timing-based mechanics, such as nailing reversals or landing a running grapple. If you’re new to the series, such a change might not be such an issue, but if you’re double dipping from other platforms you’ll find that muscle memory all but useless.

It’s clear 2K wanted to the Switch version of WWE 2K18 out before the end of the year – because nothing makes a game sound out of date like launching in the same year as the one stated on its box art – but that doesn’t detract from the fact this port simply isn’t fit for purpose right now. NBA 2K18 also had launch problems – and was subsequently patched it a much more agreeable state – but that doesn’t excuse a publisher asking for £50 for a broken shadow of multiformat game, and we fear that the problems present in WWE 2K18 are beyond patching.

It’s a shame because there’s just so much content stuffed into the Switch version. The MyCareer and WWE Universe modes are here, enabling you to take a customised Superstar from the Performance Centre training facility to the Grandest Stage Of Them All at WrestleMania. Road To Glory also makes a comeback, with its focus on players competing online for ‘rasslin dominance. Having these modes present and their entirety makes WWE 2K18’s technical failings rankle even further.

It’s an issue that brings down everyone of the game’s potential highlights, including a new carry system that enables you to take your opponent up onto your shoulders in four different ways (opening up for a more depth when it comes to grappling). Even the ability to go online (or play locally) with up to three other players is torpedoed by the sheer fact the game runs slower an Undertaker WrestleMania entrance.

The unrivaled depth of the character creation suite is here in all its majesty, too – you haven’t lived until you’ve built a virtual monstrosity with the most ridiculous attire, laughable entrance and physics-defying finisher. Even having access to over 170 wrestlers from yesteryear and today is a selling point in itself. But then comes the crushing reality that your meticulously built creations or beloved Superstars will have to wrestle in a game that can barely stand unaided, never mind perform a shooting star press from the top turnbuckle.

Conclusion

While co-developer Blind Squirrel has stated publicly it is working on implementing some post-launch improvements, it doesn’t change the fact WWE 2K18 ever existed in this form at all. Switch has had an incredible 2017 and played host to some truly awe-inspiring ports, but as it stands the latest slice of sports entertainment is best enjoyed elsewhere. Wrestling fans with a Switch deserve better games than this sorry jobber.

Kirby And Friends Are Getting Some Super Cute Big Chinned-Gachapon Toys

Funko isn’t the only company turning your most beloved characters into oversized caricatures. Over in Japan, gachapon maker Panda no Ana has been making a name for itself with Shakurel Planet – a range of toy-capsules that contain miniature animals with oversized jaws – and it’s now turned its attention to the cutesy world of Kirby and the Dream Land.

Gachapon (which refers to a long-running craze in Japan for toys and other items dispensed from vending machines) is big business in the East, so the new line – which includes Kirby, Whispy Woods, Meta Knight and plenty more – is bound to cause a stir in both the ‘blind bag’ and the ‘toys with massive jaws’ communities.

In the meantime, why not check out our review of Kirby Battle Royale before its release in the US on 19th January, 2018?

The Kirby Shakurel will be making its way to Japanese vending machines very soon. While they’re highly unlikely to get a similar release over here, would you want to import one? Does a chiseled Meta Knight float your boat? Let us know below!

Gallery: Checking Out 8Bitdo’s New SNES Classic Edition Wireless Gamepad

While the biggest news to come out of 8Bitdo recently is the launch of the excellent SN30 Pro controller, the company has also released another notable product: the SNES Classic Edition Wireless Gamepad.

As the title suggests, this is a controller aimed at those who have purchased a SNES Classic Edition and are looking for a cable-free solution which overcomes the tiny lead length of the bundled pad.

We’ve been lucky enough to have had our hands on the controller – which comes in SNES and SFC flavours – for a while now, and can happily report that it’s every bit as responsive and comfortable to use as the real deal. In fact, it’s basically little more than a slightly redesigned version of the company’s previous SNES30 controller.

The face of the pad has been altered every so slightly, and the controller comes bundled with a 2.4GHz wireless transmitter which plugs into the controller port of your SNES Classic Edition. Also included inside the box is a charging cable for the controller’s internal battery and a sheet of instructions.

8Bitdo’s products tend to speak for themselves these days and the company rarely puts a foot wrong with this kind of thing; it should come as no surprise that the SNES Classic Edition wireless pad (and its sibling, the SFC Classic Edition) are both excellent alternatives to the wireless pad you get with the SNES Classic Edition. If you long to be free of pesky leads, then these are highly recommended.

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Review: Nine Parchments (Switch eShop)

Nine Parchments is the latest title from Frozenbyte, the developer of games such as the Trine series and, more recently on Switch, Has-Been Heroes. Just as the Trine series did before it, this game places a heavy focus on co-operative play with up to four players able to team up and enjoy the adventure together. You can play alone if you like but, for reasons we’ll explore a little later on, you’ll want to make sure you have a group of friends available for this one.

After a mysterious explosion hits their academy, a team of slightly reckless students (one of which, Cornelius, somehow manages to sound like an even whinier version of Frodo Baggins) embark on a quest to return nine magical parchments that blew away. To do this, you’ll be exploring various levels and using magic abilities to defeat monsters along the way, all while keeping on top of upgrades, new abilities, and new characters. While the classic RPG elements of skill trees and a levelling-up system are present here, it never feels complex or like there is too much to understand; it is an RPG in perhaps its simplest form.

The levels themselves are very similar; you’ll begin at one end, run through until you reach the other end, and simply try to survive the enemy attacks as you explore. To break up the repetition a little you’ll come across boss battles every now and then – these act as milestones within the game and you’ll collect one of the missing nine parchments with each of these victories. Thanks to the increased repetition of the main levels, these boss battles are often a treat; they can be pretty challenging at times but, with some clever strategic thinking, you’ll manage to overcome them and find yourself eagerly anticipating the next one.

The combat works around an elemental system (fire beats ice, for example) and combining the elements with a suitable style of attack is key. Most attacks are long-range but come in different forms such as continuous beams of energy, or short bursts that do a little more damage with each hit, and these can all be accessed on a rotation system triggered by the shoulder buttons. You can also use close-combat melee attacks, but these usually create more risk than reward and you are much better off keeping your distance from enemies. Coming up with the best strategies and carrying out the attacks can be really fun, but the actual amount of fun you have might depend on how you choose to play.

We decided to play through the game on a solo quest first and, for the first hour or two, things were still fresh enough that we were enjoying the simple but satisfying combat. Unfortunately, after a while had passed, the aforementioned repetitive nature of the level exploration started to make the game drag a little; some of the initial ‘magic’ was lost. The boss fights did stand out as we mentioned, but the rest of the time we were left hoping for something more.

Luckily, things changed in multiplayer. Roaming around the levels with up to three other players can create all kinds of havoc; it is scarily easy to comically set your friends on fire or leave them desperately fighting for their lives while you fumble around deciding which attack to use. Naturally, this kind of thing is best enjoyed between friends who can communicate, so while jumping into games with strangers online is an option, we’d recommend local wireless as the ultimate way to play. Even though the repetitive nature of the levels remains, working out new tactics together – especially when surrounding enemies – and a much better life system (where players can restore fallen comrades by standing over them, as opposed to a simple two-life system in single player) really help to make things more enjoyable.

Just when things were looking up, though, we encountered the next major problem. Nine Parchments has a very strange feature in place whereby you can only have one campaign running at a time, even across different modes. This means that if you switch from a multiplayer campaign to a solo one, or vice versa, all of your story progress will be lost – you always have to start from scratch. You keep your unlocked weapons, upgrades, and level – the idea here is that you can complete the game and then re-play it with your new gear as often as you like – but of course this creates a rather serious problem.

If you’re wanting to see the story through to the end you have two choices: you must either play through the entire game on your own, making sure to never jump into any multiplayer action until it is done; or you can play exclusively in co-op mode, waiting for your friends to be online each time you want to play (and therefore never touching the game when you leave the house without a Wi-Fi connection). The decision is frankly baffling. Frozenbyte have addressed the issue, stating that a fix should hopefully come in January to allow multiple story runs to sit side-by-side, but you have to wonder why this wasn’t considered a day-one inclusion, especially for a portable console.

Despite the occasional online connectivity issue, the game does work perfectly well in other areas. The worlds are gorgeous to look at – not quite as stunningly beautiful as Trine in this humble writer’s opinion, but very lovely nonetheless – and the combat runs very smoothly indeed. We did notice, though, that playing with a Pro Controller either with the console docked, or in table top mode, seemed to offer a much better experience; the combat revolves around a twin-stick approach and the control sticks on the Pro Controller offer much more precision than those on the Joy-Con. 

Conclusion

Nine Parchments is a game with an awful lot of potential; the combat is fun, the multiplayer co-op works a treat, and the gorgeous art creates a visually impressive world to explore. Repetition in the format and layout of levels – and the incredibly strange decision to delete your save data when wanting to switching between single player and co-op games – are unfortunate shortcomings, however. If you love your co-op adventure-type games, and especially if you like the sound of the light RPG elements, you may well get a good time from this game – just keep our warnings in mind.