Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A few thoughts on a trio of just-released 3DS eShop titles (Unholy Heights, BoxBoxBoy! and The Battle Cats POP!)

It's been quiet around these parts the last week or two, I know. There's a reason for that: I've been on vacation!

Normally I prep a few posts in advance so no one can tell I'm away, but that wasn't possible this time around. Oh, well, what's done is done. Plus, that's all in the past now, as I'm home again--and ready to get back to blogging about games.

Specifically, I'm ready to write about the three 3DS games I spent time with while holed up (not really) in a mountain cabin outside of Asheville, North Carolina last week. 

My original plan was to put a good dent in a number of other 3DS and even DS carts--namely Chrono Trigger, Contact, Final Fantasy Explorers and Return to PopoloCrois--during this getaway, but that went out the window when I stupidly left all of them at home.

So, while the above-mentioned cabin still had WiFi (it only lasted a couple of days--harrumph), I bought and downloaded a trio of recently released digital 3DS titles that have intrigued me since they were first announced. The titles in question: Unholy Heights, BoxBoxBoy! and The Battle Cats POP!

Here's what I think of each of these bite-sized gaming experiences after putting a handful of hours into them.

The Battle Cats POP!--I was pretty darn skeptical about this PONOS-developed game before I first experienced it for myself.

Why? Well, for starters,  it's $9.99. To me, that's a lot for a digital title with a questionable amount of depth or content. Also, its art style is ... interesting. And I don't necessarily mean that in a good way--or at least I didn't before I was given a chance to appreciate it in context.

Once I began playing this tower defense title, though, its weird aesthetics made perfect sense. (Or maybe I should say they made as much sense as is possible for a game that features armies of felines who fight each other for some reason that's currently slipping my mind.) On top of that, it was so much fun I completely forgot I dropped nearly $10 to add it to my 3DS' home menu.

Based on what's showcased in this trailer, even more thrilling wackiness is in store for me if I continue to plug away at it--and I can guarantee that's the current plan. 

BoxBoxBoy!--I'll be honest here: despite the fact that I liked a lot of what the original BoxBoy! offered, I've yet to finish it. Although I'd like to say that's because some other game stole away my attention, in reality it's because I lost interest in it.  I

t seems almost criminal to say that, but it's true. For me, there's just something lacking in these HAL Laboratory-made platformers. They look, sound and--most importantly, in my mind--feel great, no question, but they also lack cohesion. Levels are almost painfully short, and they rarely seem to build on one another. (A skill or trick you learn in one may only be used in the next stage or two.)

Admittedly, BoxBoxBoy! offers more depth than its predecessor, and it's also less obsessed with handholding, but even then it doesn't completely solve the earlier game's issue of not being altogether enticing. 

Unholy Heights--Another tower defense game? Yes, but this one differs enough from The Battle Cats POP! that owning both isn't a completely terrible idea.

If you only have the funds to buy one of them (Unholy Heights is $3.99 cheaper than The Battle Cats POP!), though, I'd personally recommend picking up this Mebius-developed title, which shoves you into the shoes of a devilish landlord tasked with attracting monstrous tenants to protect his not-so-humble abode. I

t takes a while to get into, I've got to say, but once it clicks it does so in a way that makes it difficult to put down. Helping matters are Unholy Heights' chuckle-worthy text, appealingly drawn graphics and surprisingly deep--not to mention addictive--gameplay.

Just be sure you're in a patient state of mind when you boot it up, as there are times when the action flows like molasses (even when it's set to fast-forward). 

Have you played any of these games? If so, share your impressions of them in the comments section below. 

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