The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince – Switch review

The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a beautiful digital storybook. It tells the story of a wolf who deals with the consequences of her actions. She blinds a friendly prince with a swing of paw, and she spend the rest of the game trying to make it right, causing even more trouble in the process. I won’t spoil a single more word about the story, as it is the strong point of Liar Princess, and it’s told with mastery, each page unfolding quite literally on each cut scene, depicted with hand drawn graphics of such quality that really stand out and make you love the characters. Everything is accompanied by a wistful and somewhat hypnotic soundtrack and the storyteller’s voice acting that make you feel comfy, as if reading an old book in front of a cosy fireplace. I was also pleasantly surprised by the text in the unlockable illustrations being translated into English, allowing the reader to fully appreciate the details and the care that has been put into the preparatory work.

a blessed localisation

Unfortunately Liar Princess’ gameplay doesn’t make it justice. You impersonate the Princess who needs to guide the visually impaired prince to safety, by pulling him holding his hands, giving him simple commands to follow (carry this thing, go right, go left and that’s about it), and turning herself into the big but not bad wolf to slay the creatures that threaten the Prince’s life. It play like a sort of bi-dimensional ICO meets Limbo, but not as good. Levels don’t show any real inspiration of a journey through a mysterious forest, being quite flat and with an heavy tileset feeling. The action is composed by a well balanced mixture of platforming and puzzle, that however fail to convey a tangible sense of bonding between the two characters, mostly because it feels quite detached from the story featuring a basic selection of pull the lever and push the block puzzles, and lacks inventive or any sense of urgency and insecurity to spice up things. Sometimes the Prince dies usally because he falls from an undefined mortal height, the Princess cries a bit and then you are back for some more soporific action in an anonymous level design.

I solved this puzzle by pure chance fiddling with the numbers LOL

I have completed the Liar Princess in about 4 hours and it left me with the memory of a good tale, but haunted by a uninspired gameplay. I’ll still give it a pass, as I understand the idea of being a sort of interactive storybook, something that you could probably enjoy playing along your young children, but be warned that this lovely parent-child moment come with the burden of a gameplay which excitement is comparable to a hefty priced toddler activity book.

This is is the bread and butter of all storytelling. The mystery! Also, look at the lovely graphics!

IFSCORE 6-

+Beautifully drawn

+ Nice story and cosy atmosphere

-gameplay is as fun as hoovering the carpet

Magic Scroll Tactics – Switch review

The first thing that catches your eye when looking at Magic Scroll Tactics is that it looks like your typical isometric japanese strategy game, but with a 2d side perspective. This might be worring regarding the movement and tactical options available. I was a bit skeptical myself about it but the cute characters obviously won me over. I am glad they did. Magic Scroll Tactics bidimension approach works well with a few tricks that keep it a valid turn strategy game but also give it a unique feeling. Altitude advantage plays of course a big role in the fighting economy, with attacks being more effective from above, so you want to get the higher ground as soon as possible. Another interesting trick is that you can move into an ally occupied space, pushing the unit that occupy that tile backward and all the other ones consequently. This is effective in stepping forward after another unit has attacked, thus protecting it from enemy retaliation. Sometimes the maps do not feel as vertically developed as they should be, resulting in situations where the skirmish between the factions become a matter of switching your front characters in order to attack, like in some sort of Pokemon battles. This sensation is enhanced by the fact that, unlike opponents, your units alway start lined up politely on the left side of the screen. Another aspect I liked is that your troops start the battle without mp and gain some each turn, making it necessary to build up some power before starting to unleash powerful spells on the battleground.

that dog there kept dying at the beginning of the game. Now he is a beast

In Magic Scroll Tactics you play as Nash, a summoner person which is a versatile fighter, capable of melee, ranged, magic attacks and a bit of herbalism. Other than her, you are pretty much free to assemble your team of magical creatures. You have your typical selection of classes including mages, clerics, fighters and archers and a not so typical range of races to choose from such as wolfs, salamander, mermaids, harpys and frogs, each with their own perks and weaknesses, an unusual selection which I found quite refreshing. Each character can be further personalised with equipments and via skill tree. The customisation options are quite interesting, and will allow you to create a party that suits your own playstyle.

You need at least 5 mermaids in your team of 5 ❤

I really enjoyed the fact that as you begin a new game you are immediately thrown into the action without lenghty tutorials or logorroic dialogs. There are cutscenes with the supercute characters but they are never long and you’ll spend 99% of the time busy battling. You won’t be left in the blind because important information is always displayed clearly on screen when necessary. Interface is great and easy to navigate, if not particularly eye-catching.

I have not completed the game yet, but at 12 hours I feel that the ending credits are not too far (my characters are about level 70 already) so I guess it can be completed in less than 20 hours. So far the game entertained me well, with battle becoming more and more challenging. Enemies are tough and hit hard, and the are some difficulty swings here and there but should you require to grind a bit of gold or experience you can go back and do some free battles, maybe using the autobattle feature to make the process painless. Watching the cpu play with your team is interesting to understand the mechanics, and sometimes I feel it is smarter than me ( but I am better at exploiting cheap tactics). You can also expect your fair share of plot twists and wee surprises along the way that will keep you engaged. Really, I am having a lot of genuine fun with it.

I had the feeling that some of the ideas could be implemented further, but overall Magic Scroll Tactics is a very solid tactics rpg worth every minute spent with it. Magical.

+ solid and satisfying gameplay

+ clear interface and intuitive controls

-some ideas are a bit underused.

IFSCORE: 9/10

Away: Journey to the unexpected – Switch review

The maybe evil Labiworks company is polluting the environment with their reckless excavations and we don’t like it, so it’s up to IFCATS ( or so I called my own character) to make things right hanging around with a stick to bash enemiesbwith and some consumale fireworks to be used as ranged weapon. You start in your bedroom and walk out the house trough a hole in the garage walls to explore the nearby lands.

Now this is a nice touch

Levels are composed by an open outdoor hub where you look for levers to open the gate for a dungeon. You also collect coins that can be used to purchase items to help you along the way. Once the short dungeon featuring a simple series of rooms, enemies, chests and maybe an hazard is completed, a branching path takes to the next level with a similar scructure.

ok I guess I’ll poo in the shower then

A core gameplay elements is recruiting new friends along the journey, winning them through succesful dialogs. Other than each coming with their unique attack and energy bar that is depleted with use, they are all visually impared in some way, like your granpa wearing broken specs, and this work both as adding flavour and as encouragement to switch back to the main protagonist to continue the exploration.

the world seen through granpa’s eyes

While technically it is possible to beat the game with your main character, recruting friends is a lifesaver, as using them prevent you from losing your precious hearts.

If you die, you start over from your bedroom. But worry not! With the experience gained you will unlock new feats such as more hearts, shortcuts and so on. There is also a random element in generating the enemies and items layout that helps keeping things freshy when inevitably you’ll find yourself exploring the areas again. It plays like a roguelite, but somehow this progress through failure mechanic seems pasted onto the game via overlay to make it last longer rather than fully implemented.

All the gameplay elements (exploration, collection, combat) contribute to make the advenure engaging, but individually they lack the depth to stand out from mediocrity.

What keeps the game together is the joyful atmosphere, the wacky and bouncy characters with hilarious dialogs that tell a funny story that it’s worth listening to, and all the tiny details like the animated intro that make it stand out. I also have a personal taste for bidimension sprites in 3d enviroments, and Away blend them wonderfully. The whole game conveys the love of creators for anime and comics. Really it is way more fun playing it than reading me describing it, and I want to spoil as little as possible.

Away is very short and I completed it in 3 hours or something. The gameplay elements that would have suffered if the game dragged itself for too long, work well on this distance. I think that Away: Journey to the unexpected should be seen as an interactice novel where the narrarite is sustained through proper gameplay instead of laser game choices, and that’s praiseworthy. I enjoyed this short adventure and it made me smile

IFSCORE 7/10

+ cute and charmful characters to treasure

+ it’s funny and playful

-gameplay is very basic

-short and unlikely to be replayed

Nippon Marathon – Switch review

Google knows you, and my browser has been filled lately with advertisement for Nippon Marathon. What Google doesn’t know is that I purchased the game on day one and I am loving it.

I mentioned the advert because the game is marketed as “Takeshi castle meets Micromachines” which is somewhat true, but with the huge difference that Nippon Marathon is much more fun than Micro Machine. That’s because the learning curve in Nippon Marathon is practically zero, and you don’t need to be any good to obtain great amounts of fun playing it.

This pun killed me

In Nippon Marathon you impersonate an idiot of your choice, running with other 3 wacky characters such as a dog herectus, a man dressed as a lobster or the self-explaing Handsome Hazuki. Moving and jumping around is way easier than driving a tiny car over a fast course, so it’s quite easy for anyone to have a chance, making it a great multiplayer game suitable for families, girlfriends and your inept friends.

Each course is filled with crazy obstacles such as salmon, salary men and dogs especially, which eventually will make you fall and be left behind. When this happens, the referee whistle will eliminate you and once a section is won by somebody, all the characters will line up again ready to sprint from the last checkpoint.

In order to win, it is more imporant to survive than winning the section. If you place fourth in a section you will lose two stars (starts get you winning points at the end of the race) while if you win you only gain one. This works well because it turns every round in an exhilarating run for survival, throwing watermelons and eating bananas in the process. You also get bonus points for things like being the most smelly, but I’ll leave this to you to discover. Each bit of Nippon Marathon, from the menu to the credits roll, is filled with crazy Japanese humour and will make you happy.

I am so proud of this picture. So much meaning!

Despite having only 5 different courses, the game has a good amount of content. There are collectibles that unlock pages in a completely useless but hilarious travel guide and two minigames: a bowling played on shopping cart and L.O.B.S.T.E.R, a proper Takeshi Castle depiction where you compete one player at a time to get as far as possible on the obstacle course.

The story mode is fun as well and tells a story that will make you laugh. However I need to warn that story sections can be quite lengthy compared to the short running sections and the dialogs cannot be skipped or fast forwarded. It is worth reading it for a good laugh, so my recommendation saving it for later and come back to it with the right relaxed mindset of reading a visual novel, after you satiated yourself running half and full marathons, to enjoy the game at its best.

Let’s just say it is really worth getting to know this character.

Nippon Marathon is one of the best games I played last year and it’s going to stay installed on my Switch forever.

IFSCORE 9/10

+ great party game everybody will love

+ So hilarious that it’s fun in solo too

+ Crazy fun

-I want more courses!

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