The trend for challenging games in deviously cute clothing continues with Mini Island Challenge Bundle, a collection of short challenges available as individual islands on PC, but as a collection on Switch.
At first glance, Mini Island Challenge Bundle seems to be a platformer with My Little Pony-esque characters – yet there’s no jumping involved at all. It’s got a bit of a learning curve in fact, being a boss rush game with somewhat unique mechanics – on each stage, you’ll take on an enemy by shooting, dodging and making good use of a limited-time shield that’s at your disposal. Handily, as you run to the first stage – each time you restart an island – you’ll make your way past in-game boards that give you a rundown of the basic mechanics, such as using your dodge move to get out of range of your enemy’s attacks. Attacks are telegraphed with a range meter appearing just below the ground, allowing you to anticipate where to move to as you try to reduce the enemy to zero health. Though that makes it sound as if it’ll make the game too easy, it actually highlights how quickly you need to react to deal with the shots being fired at you, which can vary in pattern and intensity depending on which character you’re up against.
Once you’ve beaten a bad guy, you can choose a power up that’ll give you a bonus to one of your stats (and sometimes a corresponding reduction in another stat), with the idea being to ensure that your overall power is equal to or ideally higher than the stage you’re about to tackle.
Though that initial learning curve is present, Mini Island Challenge Bundle isn’t a hard game to do well at, at least once the slightly unusual mechanics click. It’s presented very stylishly indeed, with some lovely neon visuals and excellent reflection effects, as well as a fantastic electronic soundtrack that makes the game almost feel like rhythm action at times. It’s very satisfying once you’ve overcome the initial hurdle of working out what’s going on.
Impressively, it’s the work of a solo developer (the enigmatically named MACKINN7). Mini Island Challenge Bundle a fast-paced run-and-gunner which feels unique, just the right level of challenging and very polished indeed – perfectly suited to being played on the move via Switch.
Many thanks to Forever Entertainment for providing me with a copy of Mini Island Challenge Bundle for review purposes.
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