first_img ‘Star Wars Pinball’ Has Your Favorite Brand in Ball FormSNES Games Officially Come to Nintendo Switch Stay on target If you have a Nintendo Switch, chances are you also have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The new Zelda is a massive, phenomenal game that you can and should play for dozens of hours. But eventually, you’re going to want to play something new on your Nintendo console/handheld hybrid. Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda is a new column highlighting cool, smaller Switch games to check out once you’ve saved Hyrule.I don’t like adventure games. Along with roguelikes and games cribbing from Dark Souls, it’s a beloved gaming genre I’ve always been able to consistently write off. I respect the unique settings and emphasis on comedic storytelling that sets classics like Grim Fandango, Maniac Mansion, and The Secret of Monkey Island apart from other games. But I’ve just never had the patience for the slow pace, copious amounts of dialogue, and gameplay consisting of obscure puzzles.So Thimbleweed Park, a throwback to the Golden Age of adventure games made by LucasArts veterans Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, from the very beginning seemed like a game I would dislike. And like Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People, it’s a game I ultimately enjoy in spite of its adventure game elements, not because of them. But after playing the game on Nintendo Switch, I’ve come to appreciate the modern touches the game uses to keep this fascinating fossil relevant in a drastically different adventure game landscape.Thimbleweed Park’s humor and plot are literally its entire point, so I won’t say too much. But suffice it to say it fits right in with the irreverent, quirky, T-rated house style of the games it emulates. This ensemble piece has you unraveling the dark secrets of a quiet and quaint yet mysterious small town with a handful of different playable characters.There are some federal agents out of The X-Files (or Twin Peaks), a cursed vulgar clown, an aspiring game developer/pillow factory heiress, and a ghost with unfinished business. These characters and the weirdos they encounter are brought to life through appropriately tongue-in-cheek voice acting. I especially enjoyed the flashbacks that introduce the characters because they’re nice narrative curveballs as well as self-contained digestible sequences within the overall chapters, free from the anxious sprawl of a full, complex, and lengthy adventure game.The different playable characters also play into Thimbleweed Park’s smart structure for keeping narrative momentum up. You can’t die or run into any dead ends, and having different playable characters to hop between lets you feel like there is always something you can pursue somewhere. More characters can also let you perform tasks more efficiently. While controlling both agents, I had one talk to a fortune teller in need of some magic mushrooms, and as luck would have it, I had already parked the other agent near the swamp where the drugs grew. Some puzzles even require you to use several characters in tandem in creative, exciting, satisfying ways.The biggest way Thimbleweed Park keeps you on the right track without just telling you what to do (until you call the hint hotline) is by giving each character a to-do list. At any time you can go into your inventory and just read a list of things you need to do, plainly laid out, so you don’t get trapped in some endless puzzle tangent. Find the bloody wallet. Spruce up your clown afro. Apply for a job at MMucasFlem (great gag). It seems small, but always having at least some sense of what you should be working towards next relieves a lot of potential headaches caused by getting stuck and gives you a fair head start on puzzles.But honestly, the best choice the Thimbleweed Park developers made, the reason this is a retro adventure game I could actually stand, is the casual mode. This shorter, easier difficulty streamlines puzzles, making the story move forward more consistently. Instead of sussing out the combination to your own safe to get the money to buy back your joke book, just open the safe and buy back your joke back.Purists may balk, and if so they can stick to the more authentically old-school standard mode, but to me without concessions like this I would just resent the game for wasting my time or for making me follow a guide. The casual mode even admits that not everyone has the time or interest to put up with more nonsensical hoops to jump through. It’s like how Fire Emblem only became playable to me once they allowed for no permadeath. There’s no shame in avoiding difficulty that’s fake and cheap and frustrating and dumb.I suspect I’m not alone in thinking this. Adventures games are in a very different spot than they were in the vague 1987 Thimbleweed Park takes place in. Telltale Games may started by revisiting beloved LucasArts adventure game franchises, but the studio didn’t truly take off until The Walking Dead and its radical reinvention of the genre. Instead of guiding characters across prerendered screen picking up objects to smash together, these new episodic adventure games are cinematic choose-your-own-adventures forcing players not to solve puzzles but make harrowing branching moral decisions.Even adventure games not from Telltale are reacting to its impact. The spooky teen tale Oxenfree, also now available on Switch, has some puzzles but is way more interested in its quippy yet realistic overlapping youthful dialogue trees. The same goes for Firewatch, from former Walking Dead devs, starring everyone’s favorite Mad Man Rich Sommer.Obviously Thimbleweed Park doesn’t go that far. It’s much closer to an old adventure game than a new one. But the relaxed difficulty options to me seem to be an intelligent acknowledgement that some players now just prefer adventure games that get out of their own way and let the story be its own entertainment. It reminded me of how Sonic Mania feels like old Sonic games but is actually much better due to its subtle but fundamental modern tweaks.But one area where Thimbleweed Park is defiantly retro is in its visuals and controls. The pixelated vistas would feel right at home on an old Apple II or Amiga or whatever, and they convey a surprisingly moody overall atmosphere. Even through the lo-fi filter an eerie empty bus stop at night or a store full of glowing vacuum tubes look like what they are supposed to. And in one of the game’s constant meta winks at its own lineage, you can spot dozens of specks of dust to literally hunt pixels.Meanwhile, the controls give you trademark point-and-click adventure game options like “Walk,” Pick Up,” “Talk To,” and “Look At.” The interface itself still feels designed for a PC but the console controls try to be as intuitive as they can. For example, having the two analog sticks control the cursor at different speeds is a clever solution. On Nintendo Switch you can also just tap everything in handheld mode.Thimbleweed Park will be best enjoyed by actual fans of adventure games. Along with being able tolerate the tenuous puzzle philosophy of the more substantial standard mode, they’ll also understand the game’s numerous callbacks to adventure games past. The spellbook on Insult Swordfighting is surely one of the more shallow references.But it’s healthy for a game to reach out of its own niche, especially in a genre with a niche this hyper-specific. It’s the only way to draw in potential new fans. After surviving the crash of adventure games once, the creators of Thimbleweed Park seem to recognize the value of some added accessibility, and in doing so they made a retro adventure game I actually like playing. Impressive!Want to learn more? Here’s everything you need to know about the Nintendo Switch.Buy it now!The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildNintendo SwitchProtect Your Nintendo Switch With These Awesome CasesView as: One Page Slides1/51. Thimbleweed Park is a new adventure game very much in the style of LucasArts classics.2. Unravel the quirky mystery of this quaint small town.3. Play as several different characters like a vulgar clown and shady federal agents.4. Casual difficulty options streamline puzzles and let the story be its own entertainment, giving the game some modern accessibility. 5. But fans of old-school point-and-click adventures will be the ones who get the most out of Thimbleweed Park.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img

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