Welcome to Hidden Nindies, a new feature where we put the spotlight on some of the lesser known indie games on current Nintendo platforms! We donít have a strict line drawn for determining which games meet this criteria, but the spirit of the feature is to both expose Nintendo gamers to neat games that they may not have heard much about and to help indie game developers gain some attention for the quality games that they have built which may have fallen a bit under the radar on the Nintendo platforms (even if they were more successful elsewhere.) These are not reviews per se, and the writers may not even have finished the games, but something about them stood out enough to warrant a recommendation.
Night in the Woods Developer/s: Infinite Fall Nintendo Platform/s released on: Switch Platform/s played on: Switch Played by:Andrew N
Night in the Woods is a game about a punk rock cat who drops out of college and comes home just in time to experience weird David Lynch inspired happenings in her town. Does that get you excited? It got me excited! And Iím happy to say that the game delivers on that promise.
At its core Night in the Woods is inspired by ďclassicĒ adventure game, and the majority of the gameplay involves choosing which friends to spend time with (it would take multiple playthroughs to see the end of all of their stories), talking to various townspeople, and trying to solve the mysterious happenings around town. There are a few puzzles, some minor (but surprisingly solid, enough to make me want more) platforming and a Guitar Hero inspired rhythm game in there as well, but most of the game is running around town getting into antics and figuring out the mysteries.
The art is pretty amazing, the music is pretty awesome, the story is excellent (and timely), it controls very well, and overall itís just a great package. I know this isnít the most ďhiddenĒ Nindie out there, but it feels like it didnít get a whole lot of attention on the Switch, so I had to include it.
Bulb Boy Developer/s: Bulbware Nintendo Platform/s released on: Switch Platform/s played on: Switch Played by:Robert H
Bulb Boy is a strange beast. I donít mean the titular Bulb Boy, I mean the game. Well, actually, I mean him too. Everything about this game is strange. But itís strange in a good way, for the most part. On one hand itís a story about family. On the other hand itís a story about trying not to have your glow-in-the-dark head violently torn apart by a screaming poo monster. Itís adorable and itís revolting and itís also really enjoyable.
At its core Bulb Boy is a point-and-click adventure, albeit more streamlined than other games in the genre. There is no real inventory management, practically no backtracking since the gameís puzzles are pretty much self-contained, and itís also got a total lack of text and voice acting, apart from the occasional, unintelligible gibberish. Any hints or instructions you get will be presented to you via visual cues and icons popping up whenever needed, making the dreamlike (read: nightmarish) feel of the game even more pronounced. It also makes the game perfect for those who have trouble reading, like kids. Kids you want to scar for life by having them play Bulb Boy, because youíre heartless and you hate kids.
The game can be fairly ambitious in its efforts to gross you out, but always does so in ways that are designed to make you smile rather than retch. Feeding slimy insects to a hungry spider or hiding from murderous enemies with their entrails dangling out of their butts is nasty business, but thanks to the picture book art style and the heartwarming plot it doesnít come off as cynical or contrived. Bulb Boy is just a nice if short little adventure game for those who want to try something a tad different and donít mind a bit of strangeness to go with it.
The Next Penelope Developer/s: Aurťlien REGARD / Seaven Studio Nintendo Platform/s released on: Switch Platform/s played on: Switch Played by:Andrew N
Anand! Paging Anand! Are you listening? You know how you always want more top-down Micro Machines type racing but no one does that anymore? Well here you go. Sort of.
The Next Penelope does indeed involve top-down racing, but thatís just part of the package. Most of the worlds in the game follow the same basic formula, all using the top-down racing mechanics: 1. Complete a challenge (usually learning a new move in the process), 2. Win a race, 3. Fight a boss. Itís a pretty nice mix of gameplay, although some of the bosses could have maybe used a little more polish.
Everything looks and feels nice, and my only real complaint is that itís a bit lite on content. There are only five or six worlds, I finished everything in a few hours and once youíre done, there isnít really much else to do besides redoing a few high score stages and the likes. Still, there isnít much else out there like it, so itís worth checking out if top-down racing with a bunch of other stuff thrown in sounds like your thing.
Go! Go! Kokopolo 3D: Space Recipe For Disaster Developer/s: Tanukii Studios Limited Nintendo Platform/s released on: 3DS Platform/s played on: 3DS Played by:Robert H
Back in 2011 Keith Webb and his Tanukii Studios released Go! Go! Kokopolo on DSiWare to an appreciative if not suitably enormous audience. Six long years had passed when a sequel was finally released on the 3DS eShop, and during that time the original had managed to go from being a favourite mainly amongst critics and a handful of fans to a bona fide sleeper hit. The long awaited second instalment features various enhancements such as better general gameplay balance and gorgeous sprite art in stereoscopic 3D, but still has its beloved trademark Ēchase íem upĒ gameplay intact.
As feline antihero Kokopolo you rush through maze-like levels in search of docile creatures that you enrage by slapping their butts and then have them chase you around until you manage to trick them into getting eaten by a giant plant. Itís essentially a high speed mix of Pac-Man, Benny Hill and Little Shop of Horrors. While simplistic on paper, the game does a great job of introducing new enemy types and obstacles pretty much all the way through, making sure that the near constant running never ends up feeling stale or repetitive.
Just like the classic arcade games it takes its inspiration from, Go! Go! Kokopolo is intuitive enough for absolute beginners with its simple premise and precise controls, but has enough depth and content to provide hours of entertainment for more experienced butt slappers. You get an 80 level story mode featuring several boss fights, three playable characters with their own respective campaigns and worlds, and an addictive time attack mode on top of that. Itís a great value for its price, and a solid alternative to games like Pac-Man Championship Edition for those want something with a bit more traditional progression to it.
The Next Penelope I was less keen on. The story feels so divorced from gameplay as to be completely forgettable, despite the goofy fun premise. And the gameplay is...just fine. I didn't find it a particularly compelling top-down racer, despite its front-and-center gimmicks. And yeah, it's short.
GO GO POKOFOBO looks fun, I don't think I'd ever seen it mentioned before.
A Robot Named Fight is pretty fascinating. I have to play more to solidify my opinions, but, for now, it seems that the biggest question mark, the world generation, is very effective. It's not Super Metroid-level, but it seems to work. It's cool how the world is generated based around the specific power ups which populate each run. There are a nice variety of power ups, and more get added when you reach certain milestones. In an interesting modernization of an old school touch, speed and damage power ups are liberally hidden in walls and ceilings, but the map indicates their general location. (One general hint for new players: explore horizontally and upwards before exploring downwards.)
At this point, I have more issues with the actual feel of the game. It just doesn't feel super tight. And it's floatier than the original Metroid. Pulling off jumps can be done consistently, but it feels a bit off.
It's not horrible, but I hope that the developer keeps tweaking the game feel (if that's possible to do without breaking the level generation).
Permadeath really raises the stakes of a Metroidlike, but it doesn't feel fair when most of those deaths come from repeatedly stumbling over spikes. I'll keep playing, though. It's pretty addictive.
@Guillaume Yeah, that game is eight players. But IGN gave it their skip of the week! On the other hand, who cares? There are actually a few top-down racers on Switch. Most of them look kind of low rent, though. And, yeah, more Ivan Stewart or Super Sprint.
After some fun runs, I'm a lot more positive on A Robot Named Fight. It felt much more responsive in docked mode. However, my last run seemed to end in ugly old-school glitches. However, I'm pretty sure that was actually caused by a new type of enemy...
@Zero These days, I'd only ever want to review a game that I felt positively about. Especially if it were under the radar.
I'm not saying I don't feel positively about these games! Just that I don't really try to convince people they need to buy things. It's more like this exists, decide on your own. Everyone's tastes are so different and with obscure indie games there isn't much I'd be like EVERYONE NEEDS TO PLAY THIS.