Switch Review Round-Up – Aka, SongPop Party, Once Upon A Jester and more

We try to cover every Switch game we’re sent a code for here at Gamezebo. Sometimes we find ourselves with a bit of a backlog though – like right now for instance. 

So here are some shorter reviews of games released or updated on the Switch over the last few months – that we might not have gotten round to covering otherwise. 

SongPop Party

We played this at the Gamezebo household over Christmas and it went down a storm, and there can be no better recommendation than that.

This isn’t complex entertainment – in fact its main strength is its simplicity. You get a few seconds to guess a song or artist by pressing in one of four directions – each giving you a choice. Your answer isn’t revealed until the time limit is up, and then yours is shown with every other player’s guess. Get it right you receive points, and even more if you guess quickest.

Up to eight people can play, and can even join in on their smartphones. That’s no surprise considering this game’s mobile origins, and this does sadly show in the title forcing you to earn points to unlock further stages and genres.

There’s a lot to unlock here though, so you’ll be playing this for a while – although this isn’t much fun with any less than three players. 

SongPop Party is perhaps a tad overpriced, but if you host regular game nights – with music loving friends – this is well worth investing in.

Score: 4 out of 5

Aka

Aka is a slightly disappointing contradiction of a game. It sets itself out to be a relaxing adventure where you play as a rotund red panda on a remote island – but in reality it’s nowhere near as chill as you’d hope.

It doesn’t help that you’re bombarded with tutorials and instructions at the start, which stalls any relaxing vibes it might have provided from the off. You’re not given any freedom to work things out for yourself, and it feels horribly restrictive.

Once that’s out of the way things pick up a bit, with farmland to be tended and neighbours to befriend. If you allow it there’s a rhythm to this game that can be somewhat hypnotic, as slow as it can be. 

Sadly the game struggles with various performance issues and the controls are never as tight as you’d like – meaning Ava is only for the most patient of players.

Score: 3 out of 5

Once Upon A Jester

A game with personality to spare, Once Upon A Jester is an adventure game with a rhythm action twist. You play as Jester who alongside your friend Sok attempt to win a fortune by…performing a play to a very small crowd of people.

The trick is to know what to do in the performance by exploring your surroundings beforehand, working out what the audience want to see and what they definitely don’t.

In terms of action there are various quick-time events to steer your play in the right direction, but in all honesty the stories you can end up telling get pretty strange regardless of how you perform. 

That’s the gist of the game then, but what sold us was the effort put into the presentation. The voice acting is constant, enthusiastic, and often quite funny. It’s often odd more than funny, but lovable with that.

If you’re not a fan of strange improv style comedy you might not get a lot out of Once Upon A Jester, but for those who can forgive its shortcomings this is well worth investigating.

Score: 4 out of 5

Yars: Recharged

Of the many Recharged games this is one of the better ones. Originally released in 1982 Yars was always a simple game even for the time – you shoot away at the defensive wall of a huge boss, then blast him away once you’ve made a path through. 

This reimagining widens the one screen scope of the original by allowing you to wander around the entire screen, with the left analogue stick used for movement and the right one for shooting.

The main thrust of the game is much the same as forty years ago though, with you shooting away at shields made of hexagons – which once destroyed leave orbs which power up a massive weapon you can use to destroy the main foes hidden behind the aforementioned shields. 

Yars: Recharged offers a pretty enjoyable gameplay loop across its 30 stages, and there’s a solidly implemented multiplayer mode as well as separate challenges. The audio design is superb too, making you feel like you’re always up against impossible odds.

No it never gets massively exciting – minutes can go by of you just blasting at the same spot with little movement required – especially when compared to some of the other Recharged titles which can get madly intense after just a few minutes of play.

Well designed and well priced, Yars: Recharged is a rock solid entry in the Recharged series of games and is a must for those looking for a new (but not too new!) shooter.

Score: 4 out of 5

Please, Touch The Artwork

A stylish puzzler but one that is not quite as good as it thinks it is, Please, Touch The Artwork has still been put together with a fair amount of love and care.

Best played on the touchscreen (although a docked option now exists), the game is based around solving short stages of three types – all revolving around making sure lines and colour patterns are followed in set ways.  

The rules for each of the three variants are easy to grasp, but things soon get complex. There’s a lot of content here – nearly 200 stages – but we found the game’s core gameplay loops weren’t quite as engaging as needed to make you want to battle through all of them.

Please, Touch The Artwork is a solid puzzler worth looking into at a discount, but doesn’t hit the heights of the better games in the genre.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

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