Milkmaid of the Milky Way (Switch): COMPLETED!

Imagine if Another World was a point-and-click adventure game about a milkmaid in space, and all the dialogue was in rhyming couplets. Well, that’s Milkmaid of the Milky Way.

It’s only a couple of hours long, but tells the story of how a struggling milkmaid has her cows abducted by aliens (as aliens are wont to do) one night and then manages to get aboard their spaceship to try and rescue them.

My milkbeasts bring all the boys to the biodome

The puzzles are mostly straightforward, with the exception of the final one which felt a lot like “try everything on everything in case it works”, and it told an interesting story with a couple of twists. I really enjoyed it!

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One Strike (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’ll probably take longer to read this post than it took me to complete the game. One Strike is a one-on-one fighting game with the sort of graphics early Game Boy Advance games had, with colour palettes to suit the very dark GBA screen. Games like Castlevania: Circle of the Moon looked hideous when blown up on a big TV via an emulator, and so does One Strike.

As the name suggests, you need to strike your opponent just once to kill them. It’s basically one-hit-kill Samurai Shodown.

My eyes!

And, with only about 8 opponents, it doesn’t take long to simply press dash-dash-attack your way through them all.

I’m glad the game was free because I’d certainly never pay money for something this shallow, short, and offensive to my eyes. Perhaps in two player mode there’s more strategy, but I won’t be playing it again to find out.

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One Strike (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’ll probably take longer to read this post than it took me to complete the game. One Strike is a one-on-one fighting game with the sort of graphics early Game Boy Advance games had, with colour palettes to suit the very dark GBA screen. Games like Castlevania: Circle of the Moon looked hideous when blown up on a big TV via an emulator, and so does One Strike.

As the name suggests, you need to strike your opponent just once to kill them. It’s basically one-hit-kill Samurai Shodown.

My eyes!

And, with only about 8 opponents, it doesn’t take long to simply press dash-dash-attack your way through them all.

I’m glad the game was free because I’d certainly never pay money for something this shallow, short, and offensive to my eyes. Perhaps in two player mode there’s more strategy, but I won’t be playing it again to find out.

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Assault Android Cactus+ (Switch): COMPLETED!

Some years ago, I got Assault Android Cactus on Steam, and I played it a bit via my Steam Link. It was great, but booting my Mac into Windows and setting the Link up and everything needing updating every time I did so got old fast so it’s rare I ever bother these days. But it’s a shame because sometimes games like this just don’t get played.

Until now! The “+” version, which differs in ways I don’t know about, was very cheap on the Switch eShop last week and so I bought it. And I’m glad I did because it really is a very good twin-stick shooter. In many ways, it reminds me of the Wii reboot of Alien Storm, only a trillion times better.

Playing it on the Switch rather than via a Steam Link also meant I could play two-player co-op with my daughter. I wasn’t sure how she’d get on with twin-stick controls, but she was excellent and on many stages beat me (it’s co-op, but there’s still a score/death based competitive element). We had so much fun we completed it in pretty much one sitting.

It’s easy, right up until the final boss where I realised I’d not been paying attention to how the battery system works or even making much use of the much more power secondary weapon. Or how leaving powerups for a while before collecting them changes what they do. All of which were vital to beating the final boss, it turns out.

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Celeste (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’ve seen a lot of people praise Celeste since it came out. Many of them saying it’s the best of the “stupidly difficult platformer” genre, which is presumably also populated with games like VVVVVV, Super Meat Boy and Slime-san. But, although I’ve liked some of those games before, I wasn’t sure I wanted another. Then Celeste was on sale of nearly-free, so I got it anyway.

And it’s good. Really it is. The pixel art is nice and the story is pretty good. There are lots of different mechanics like switches and things you can bounce off and platforms that “grow” stuff that kills you. The thing was, I didn’t really enjoy it all that much.

Hard platformers are supposed to anger and frustrate you, but after each beaten screen, you’re supposed to feel a sense of achievement, or that you’ve reached a level of zen. All I got was relief I didn’t need to play that bit of the game again, and I’m not sure why.

None of the game was too hard, and I finished it with “only” 1008 deaths on the tally. Only one section properly annoyed me, but I eventually beat that and moved on, so it wasn’t the difficulty causing me to not enjoy it. I just felt I was completing it for the sake of it rather than because i wanted to.

But it isn’t a bad game at all. I just wasn’t feeling it.

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Celeste (Switch): COMPLETED!

No, not the same game again. You see, the game Celeste that most people know, and the one I completed already, isn’t the original Celeste. No, that’s a PICO-8 game which I’ve played before on my PocketChip handheld. I think I completed it too, but I have no record of doing so on this diary so I’ll have to assume I didn’t.

Anyway, the original game was much simpler, with no story, 8-bit style graphics, and each screen is literally just a single screen with an exit at the top. You also can’t climb walls, although you can slide slowly down them.

The game is hidden inside the “new” Celeste, so when I unlocked it, I played it. It’s much shorter, and somewhat easier, and I actually enjoyed it a fair bit more for some reason.

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Pokémon Sword (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s another Pokémon game, and yes, it’s very much like all the others. In fact, it’s probably more like the slightly older games, like X and Y, rather than Sun and Moon as it returns to the gym setup those games had and Sun/Moon ditched.

What is different, is that there’s a new Wild Area, er, area. This massive (for a pokémon game) part of the map is full of wild pokémon which change depending on where in the area you are, and the current weather. There are also dens here and there with giant pokémon in them which you can battle and catch not completely unlike the raids in Pokémon Go.

The other difference, is that it’s the first mainline game in the series to not include all the previous pokémon in the Pokédex. I don’t know how many are missing, but there are still hundreds available plus all the new ones that have been added. Frankly, I don’t really care but I know there are grown adults on the internet who have taken offence to this because it’s the internet.

I’d seen that the game was very short, with some people completing it on launch day in under 8 hours. So imagine my surprise when I got to the game’s credits after just 51 hours. And I’d not spent forever training pokémon or “catching them all” or anything like that. Sure, I didn’t just stick to the story, but then why would you? Plus there’s a new story that opens up after you’ve finished the game, although I don’t know how long that is yet, I admit.

The important thing is that I really enjoyed the game, like the new quality of life features (you can now swap pokémon in and out of your box pretty anywhere, for example), and the “Britain but not” Galar region setting is funny. Other than that, it’s more pokémon, with nothing to really change your mind either way if you’re a fan of the games or not.

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Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Switch): COMPLETED!

You know what? It’s actually pretty good. I assumed, due to the dismal sales and very little game news fanfare, that Starlink was rubbish, but in fact it was a lot of fun.

Coming out just after the death of Plastic Game Tat (Lego Dimensions, Disney Infinity, Skylanders) was a bad first impression, but I picked up the Switch starter kit with physical Star Fox ship (which is obviously Switch exclusive and adds a bit to the story) for just over a tenner a while back and decided to give it a go this week. If they’d not bothered with all the figures and ships – as I didn’t – this probably would have sold much better.

The gameplay is pretty simple. Jet from planet to planet clearing out the bad guys (get rid of spires first to make the “boss” easier), all the while making friends, building outposts, and basically gaining territory from the enemy. Once you’ve done enough, you can build special towers, build one in each region of the solar system and you gain access to the final boss area, then go in and shoot him.

The core mechanics of gaining ground and allies, while fending off the attacks, are almost real-time strategy-like, and the combat is simple but fun. It’s not a fantastic game but it’s sadly overlooked and deserves a play. It’s a bit Star Fox, a bit No Man’s Sky, and a bit musou, but it works well.

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Hyper Sentinel (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’ll be honest, shooters are not really my bag, and I was never a fan of Uridium, which this is clearly a modern(ish) update of. Sure, there are shooters I do like, and I’m a fairly recent convert to the Church of Fantasy Zone, but I’m just making my stance clear.

I bought Hyper Sentinel because it code me about three pence. And that’s not even an exaggeration – it was 9 cents on the US eShop, and I had some Gold Points to bring it down even lower. The first few attempts at playing it were foiled by a crash-to-black screen, but eventually, I managed to get past that.

Each level is one screen high and several screens wide, with a sort of space ship or something that you fly over. The aim is to shoot all the targets on the ship, which triggers a boss fight. Beat that, and you do the next level. Do all 13 levels, and that’s it. And that was it – it wasn’t hard at all.

I think the point is, well, points. It’s an arcade game so you play it like a score attack, which isn’t really for me. I’d have preferred more levels instead, but what is there was fun enough.

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Astral Chain (Switch): COMPLETED!

I always like the idea of Platinum games, with their amazing combat and bonkers stories, but I rarely hold them in the high regard a lot of other people seem to. Bayonetta is a great game, but is it worth the heaps of praise it gets? I’m not sure. The Wonderful 101 was, well, Wonderful, but it was a way from perfect despite the reviews.

Astral Chain, though, is really something special. I think, being half “adventure” and half combat has helped, with the story and setting being allowed to shine via the slower paced police work. The combat is complicated and rewarding, and reminds me a lot of the way you control your heroes in The Wonderful 101, as they’re in a chain of sorts, as your Legion here is chained to you. You’re almost as acrobatic as Bayonetta, and there’s also a couple of motorbike sections like that game, but they’re thankfully much better executed (and looking) in Astral Chain.

The adventure sections provide a fair bit of humour, with silly police missions like cat and balloon rescue interspersed with more serious stuff. In the early levels, the combat (especially against larger enemies) tends to take place in the sparsely rendered astral plane and sometimes your police investigations drag you there. It’s a neat way of both providing a large open area to fight in, rather than the enclosed streets of The Ark, and to reduce the number of scenery polygons needed to be pushed around so the big foes can look incredible. It’s a very, very good looking game, especially for a Switch game.

I wasn’t going to buy Astral Chain, but I saw it really cheap and picked it up on a whim, and I’m glad I did. I hope too that the world teasing in the epilogue, coupled with how well this sold, will mean we get a sequel.

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