28th May2019

Review Round-Up: Almost There / Rotating Brave (Switch)

by Phil Wheat

ALMOST THERE: THE PLATFORMER

Almost_There_03

I know indie gaming has embraced the idea of old-school pixel art but Almost There takes things to a whole other level. This isn’t 16 bit graphics, hell, this isn’t even 8 bit graphics. This is dawn of the video game age, sub-Atari 2600 graphics, on a current-gen console! It’s like playing a platform game in the era of the Grandstand Pong machines – “consoles” that only ever played in black and white and had 2 paddles instead of the now-traditional d-pad controllers.

In Almost There you play a cube. A pixel. The square ball out of ’70s Pong… Whatever you want to call it. And you must work you way through each level, jumping and dodging enemies and obstacles in your path. That’s it. It’s that simple. Literally a simple looking and simple playing game. Or so it would seem. In fact Almost There‘s visuals belie the sheer difficulty of this game. Seriously.

In the press notes for this game it was billed as a “unforgivingly challenging platformer” and that, honestly, is an understatement. Almost There is brutal. Inspired by the likes of N++ and Super Meat Boy, the game is designed specifically for fans of the hardcore platforming genre – more specifically fans that like to die. A lot. Almost There actually features over 150 stages and timed challenges, only it’s levels are filled with spikes, saws, lasers and missiles, which means for most of us we’ll never even see a third (or maybe even a quarter) of those 150 stages!

ROTATING BRAVE

Rotating-Brave-screen

Conquer a pixel-art dungeon while both you and the screen rotate… Yes, you read that right. The screen goes round and round, and the pixel-art characters go round and round, too, which means you have to play while flipping your Switch around – making this one of the only games to make plenty of use of the consoles unique design (though many of the shmups on the Switch allow you to flip the screen into a sort-of TATE mode).

Rotating Brave for the Nintendo Switch is an action game in which you control a pixel-art character and take on enemies while spinning. You start off holding the Nintendo Switch vertically. Then, as you progress from one stage to the next, you play while spinning the Nintendo Switch, sometimes holding the Nintendo Switch horizontally and sometimes holding it vertically.

Much like Almost There, the graphical design of Rotating Brave makes this game look simpler than it actually is. In fact this particular game has a lot in common with the similarly looking Switch title Downwell - like that game power-ups can be the name of the game to win here. After all you’ll die a LOT in this dungeon side-scrolling game but death in this case can be a good thing – you can acquire bonus points when its game over and use them to get ready for your next battle. Plus this game has an RPG element insomuch as you can activate your special skills and special comeback moves once your skill points have accumulated.

So what does this game have in common with Almost There? And why review them together? They are frustratingly difficult and fiendishly clever. Both games lull you into a false sense of security with their basic graphics and seemingly simple gameplay. But they are anything but. Rotating Brave is (along with Almost There) among the most difficult games out on the Switch right now – and as such as WELL worth paying out for, you’ll certainly get your monies worth with both games!
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Two games that perfectly suit the Switch’s pick up and play sensibilities, and the actual physical design in the case of the latter title, both Almost There and Rotating Brave are available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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