Many thanks to the publishers for the review codes!

Odencat | 257 MB | €14.79

Meg's Monster for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Official Site

Meg’s Monster is a bit of an unusual one. Starring a young girl who stumbles across a couple of monsters whilst looking for her mother, it soon becomes apparent that her tears are to be feared. Despite Roy the Monster being practically invulnerable, her tears are pretty much the only thing that threatens his life. With her stuck in the underworld, it’s up to him to begrudgingly help her find a way home.

It’s a cute little RPG that is far more appealing than I expected it to be, As someone who isn’t a fan of the genre, I was expecting the game to be a bit of a slog after meeting the grumpy hulking blue beast. He’s not a very likeable character, and neither is his friend, but they also grow on you as their connection with Meg becomes stronger and they start building a bond. Secondary characters are also surprisingly likeable too, with the demonic council being my particular favourite. It’s a sweet little narrative overall and really well written too, which remains quite touching all the way through to the slightly unexpected ending.

As for the gameplay, it plays out largely like an RPG, expect also not really at all. All the pieces seem to be there, from chatting to townsfolk, to optional side missions, and even turn based combats; however, these are mainly there to help the story move along. Rather than being quite an open game with lots to do, you’re presented the next location in quite a linear fashion and it’s pretty clear what you need to do in order to progress. Side missions appear in other locations on the map screen and marked with a little green marker, but doing so only really adds to the narrative and doesn’t gain you anything of value to aid you in combat.

Speaking of which, the set combat encounters you face is turn based and has you playing as a near unstoppable Roy. His HP is so bulky that only a few enemies in the game actually pose a threat to him directly. Instead, your goal is to manage Meg’s emotions as she’ll get upset if she sees you getting hurt. If you’re hurt too much, she’ll start crying and those tears will be enough to consume Roy completely. In essence, all this really does is replace one health bar with another, but the idea complements the overall narrative well. Roy has some basic attacks at his disposal, and can guard himself against stronger attacks too. More importantly, over the course of the game you’ll obtain a handful of toys that you can use to raise Meg’s mood a little and perhaps grant one of you a stat boost; whether it be balls or crayons, each one is pretty useful to getting through each fight,

The great thing about the combat system is not only that the set encounters stop the game from ever feeling like a grind, but many battles will also mix things up a little bit to help them stand out. Whether it be a fight against a more unusual enemy, or just additional combat functionality (such as being able to scavenge for special items whilst fighting in the scrapyard), it really helps to keep the game’s pace going over its short four hour length.

But that’s ok too. Meg’s Monster may not be the longest title, but the budget price coupled with the well-paced gameplay, great emotional story, and charming 16 bit visual presentation means that the game is well worth the price of entry. The developers really put all their heart into this game and it shows.

Meg’s Monster took me by surprise, as I wasn’t expecting much from this cheap RPG title. In the end, I found a rather unique experience with an endearing story that had me hooked from start to finish. By the end, I found myself fully invested in the characters and world that Odencat created and was sad to see it go. Well recommended for anyone even vaguely interested in the game, as you don’t even need to be a fan of the genre to appreciate how fun it is.

Lootbox Lyfe+ | Programas descargables Nintendo Switch | Juegos | Nintendo

Being a self-styled ‘meatroidvania’ (that’s a metroidvania but with the brutal platforming of Super Meat Boy), I was a little bit apprehensive about this one. Both genres have their common pitfalls that some games tend to make, but splatformers in particular need to be careful to ensure that they feel fair yet challenging.

Lootbox Lyfe+ almost manages to pull it off, but it certainly struggles with respect to both genres. 

Much like Trash Quest, which we reviewed a while back, the game dumps you in the centre of an open map with your options forward being pretty limited. In this case it’s very limited as you aren’t even able to move at all! As you watch your blobby protagonist fall to the ground, you’ll hit your first lootbox head on and gain the ability to move. Soon after, you’ll encounter another that gives you the ability to jump, and from there your adventure truly begins.

The game world, as you’ll soon find out, is pretty expansive and it’s a case of exploring and avoiding the obstacles that are in your way. These platforming challenges typically consist of gaps, spikes, and turrets, but there are some other non-standard tropes dotted around too. It gets a bit overwhelming after you gain the first handful of abilities since your options for places to go opens up quite a lot and most end up in dead ends, leaving you wondering where the hell you need to go. Whilst you do gain access to a map early on, it’s almost useless with how little information it conveys and doesn’t even allow you to teleport to locations even after unlocking the fast travel points. Instead, fast travel needs to be done using very specific teleport points, which are scattered around pretty infrequently and don’t give you much indication as to where you’re actually warping to. This results in you having to cross reference the teleport locations with the map, which gets annoying quite fast.

Thankfully the abilities you gain do make moving around pretty fun, with an especially pleasing bounce move being my particular favourite. This move will allow you to gain extra height and distance, and when combined with the wall jumping ability can make for some fun platforming. You’ll gain a variety of abilities throughout the game, but key ones such as these are typically given to you after passing through a dimensional portal that strips you of all your abilities except for the new one. This short trial forces you to learn how the move works before letting you use it in the main overworld. It’s such a simple thing, yet also really effective and makes you feel suitably confident with your moveset going forward.

The world you find yourself in doesn’t really offer anything innovative in design, with the standard tropes all accounted for here, but it still has a really great presentation. The blobular characters are pretty low in animation, yet their rolling and bouncing is quite visually pleasing to look at. The controls, on the other hand, are a little bit of a mixed bag, with your character being mostly fine, but with an unwieldly jump that is hard to adjust whilst in the air. This is something that gets easier with use, but it’s never something that feels natural and often has you failing in frustration through a fault of the controls rather than your own error. I’m all for tight controls in a splatformer, so these issues did annoy me a fair bit.

However, whilst this may be a mortal sin in most precision platformers, it’s actually a bit more tolerable here due to the incredible amount of accessibility options available. The game’s default settings grant you three hearts, which is quite reasonable enough to help you get from one checkpoint to another. However, these values can be tweaked to increase both your lifespan and checkpòint frequency – or even reduced if you feel up to the challenge! Whilst these values can’t be altered after starting the game, unfortunately, the game does contain an accessibility (cheat) menu that allows you access to water-walking, infinite jumping, invulnerability, and more. It’s a great way to ensure that you never get stuck and allows all skill levels to appreciate the game. Sure, I would have preferred tighter controls and a functional map, but I still have to applaud the large amount of accessibility options here.

Lootbox Lyfe + is a cheap little ‘meatroidvania’ with some nice ideas that make it stand out from other games in the genre. A lack of guidance, bad map, and some iffy controls spoil the game somewhat, but I still think it’s worth giving it a shot if the recorded footage piques your interest!

Tents and Trees | Nintendo Switch download software | Games | Nintendo

Now we have a very different title with Tents and Trees. Styling itself as a cross between Picross and Minesweeper, it really does succeed at making a pretty solid combination of both. Appearing at first glance to be like Picross, you are given a square grid with numbers around the side that represent how many tents are in that row or column. The goal is to place the tents as appropriate, and reap the rewards.

What makes this different to the usual nonogram is the inclusion of trees and the rules you have to follow. Tents have to be placed directly next to a tree either vertically or horizontally, and cannot be touching a tent in any direction. Using these rules, you can eliminate dud spots by placing empty grass in the relevant place and then using your noggin to figure out where the tents are placed.

It’s a neat little variation that proves to be instantly intuitive yet also challenging enough to get absolutely brutal in the later stages. With hundreds of levels available, there’s plenty of content here to satisfy both casual and hardcore puzzle fans alike.

Whilst the core concept isn’t groundbreaking enough to win any awards, it’s still unique enough for nonogram fans to dip into for something that feels different to what they’re used to and still scratch that same itch. Its relaxing music and pleasant visual style complement the casual nature of the game, but it’ll still be able to test even puzzle veterans.

Takahiro Miyazawa| 197 MB | €4.00

Give me toilet paper! | Nintendo Switch download software | Games | Nintendo

We’ve all been there. You’re sat on the loo after a heavy dump, and you run out of toilet paper. It’s a nightmare scenario that many don’t even think about until it happens. That’s the case with the unnamed gentleman of Give me toilet paper!, and you are the only one can help.

Playing as a sentient toilet roll, you need to manoeuvre off the high shelf and reach the shit-stained fella at the bottom. To make things tougher, your route will be blocked by spikey toilet paper, lasers, locked doors, and more! It’s as ridiculous as you’d expect from a Japanese game with a silly name.

The low-poly charm and toilet themed visuals are all well enough, but the game’s entertainment lies in its unique control method. Utilising gyro control, you need to stuff the left joycon into a toilet roll tube (with a sheet or two extra to secure it in place) and roll it around on a sturdy board. I used a large portable whiteboard as a surface, but you can use anything hard, flat, and is big enough to hold with two hands (ooo, err).  It’s a neat setup and the game helpfully guides you when you first set up the game so you can get everything ready to go.

It takes a little getting used to, but it does kinda work. The roundness of your roll and the type of surface will dramatically affect your experience, so you may want to play around with it until you can get something that allows you to start and stop with ease. I’d recommend a solitary roll bereft of paper and perhaps a surface with a tad more friction for the best results.

Well, not the best results as – rather unexpectedly – the easiest way to play is by gripping your bog roll in hand and rotating as necessary. It makes some of the more precise obstacles a bit easier to manage, but it also makes the game lose some of its charm too. But then playing the intended way ends up being extraordinarily tough without the perfect setup, so it’s a case of which you prefer.

Don’t let the control quirks put you off. It’s a daft title that costs only €4 and offers a unique experience with a pleasant visual presentation and catchy background music. It may not be a perfect experience, but I applaud the developers for doing something that nobody has ever thought about doing before. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it at least works well enough.