Switch ‘N’ Shoot is a vertical shmup with a very peculiar constraint: You only need one button to play.
Developer: Matt Glanville
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: Apr 10, 2019
The way it works is that you have a ship which is constantly moving in one direction. By pressing “The” button, you will shoot and switch directions. If you don’t actually press the button and reach the end of the screen, you’ll wrap around to the other side.
Progressing the sectors
In order to beat any stage you have to do more than just survive. Every now and then, power-ups will drop from the screen. Collect this power-ups and your power will increase one level. There are 5 levels in total, and once you reach level 5 you will gain a powerful auto-firing laser, however the walls will become hazards so wrapping around them stops being an option.
The one fundamental rule of the game is that everything comes from the top and heads to the bottom. power-ups will drop, but if you fail to catch them, then you will actually lose one power level, to your detriment. Enemies who reach the bottom stay there for a while, creating a danger zone that your ship can’t touch, otherwise you die.
I forgot to mention this, but you have a single hit before it is game over. Every once in a while blue enemies will come along, dropping shield power-ups that protect you from a single hit if you collect them.
The dynamics of the game
With the rules of the game out of the way, let’s talk a bit more of how they all play out together in laying up the dynamics of the game.
On your typical run your first priority will be to kill the enemies. By waiting until your ship is in line of sight, you can follow-up with the button to shoot and reverse direction. The only time you will ever want to not focus on getting to the next enemy to kill, is when a power-up is dropped.
Which brings me to one of the main caveats of the game. You want to kill enemies because they deny your space to maneuver, but you also want to collect the power-ups because they allow you to actually progress the game, and losing on them will penalize you. The problem comes when both of them present a conflict of interests for you. If you let an enemy live to collect a power-ups, then you might fight that enemies will overwhelm you in the vecinity. If you let the power-up slip by, you lose progress on the level.
The scaling of the levels
Losing on power-ups is more punishing that it should thanks to the scaling of the levels. The longer you stay on a given sector, the more enemies will come at you. The snowball effect this creates is presumably to keep you from farming a given sector for score, but it also makes certain stages next to impossible if you missed a couple of early power-ups.
You might think that it is an appropriate punishment for the misplay of missing power-ups. You might be right, but I’m not precisely a fan of enemies overwhelming you without a chance to fight back. After all, if enemies become unmanageable, they greatly diminish the zone you can maneuver at, and since you can only shoot vertically ahead, then it becomes impossible to regain the lost ground.
The switch mentality
The biggest challenge in the game comes from the paradigm that is presented when pressing the button. By mapping 2 functions: switching directions and shooting, you create a unique situation in which you took 2 simultaneous directions and have to manage the benefits and consequences of both.
It certainly is a challenge to adapt to the controller scheme, but given some time it becomes pretty intuitive.
The one single factor that I believe helped me adjust to this are the sound effects. The ound of every single action, from shooting to switching to defeating enemies is spot-on!
The little quirks
Other than its unusual gameplay, Switch ‘N’ Shoot offers a bunch of goodies to spice up the experience.
The biggest one, which should always be present, is TATE mode. Both – and + buttons are mapped to switching the orientation of the screen for instant TATE action. It only features one TATE orientation though. Most games let you choose the side of the rotation, but strangely enough Switch ‘N’ Shoot doesn’t. I actually don’t know why most people would want to rotate in both direction, although that fact that I wouldn’t appreciate it doesn’t mean that others wouldn’t.
Another very interesting tidbit I found was that every new run features a unique pilot and a random name. I actually found this to be hilarious, as the trailer itself would tell you that there are endless disposable pilots. Where it does shine is on the hi-score screen. Rather than featuring a list with your name over and over (like most shmups without online leaderboards), you see a list of the random names you had when achieving a hi-score. Truly flavorful.
If customization is your thing, then you can change the pallete of the game. Following the very convenient trend of fewer controls, you can use both shoulder button to change the pallete and the color from said pallete. It feels a lot like when old games were played on a Game Boy Color and they allowed you to change the pallete.
A bite sized experience
For all the simplicity feature in Switch ‘N’ Shoot, it must be said that the game is indeed extremely short. In several ways it feels like one of those games you would find as mini-games in more fully featured adventures. If you ever played the first campaign of Starcraft II, you might remember the vikings shooter featured on the canteen in between missions. Switch ‘N’ Shoot feels like it would be featured like that.
Although, if there is a good enough console for bite-sized experiences, then that definitely is the Switch. It is the perfect console to bust on the bus or any other place that has you waiting for a short time, and play a quick SNS run.
Switch ‘N’ Shoot is definitely the most unusual shmup I’ve reviewed so far. I might be stretching the definition of the genre quite a lot, to the point that I even debated if I should include it on the list or just have it be a review of its own. The fact is, Switch ‘N’ Shoot is more similar than a gallery shooting game than most any other shmup featured so far.
While I think it is a fun little experience, it is definitely a game that doesn’t offer much apart from the main adventure. The main adventure features an interesting concept, but it isn’t without its own faults and personally, I found the snowballing of the levels and the duality of switching and shooting to be more miss than hit.
THE RANKING SO FAR:
- Devil Engine
- Steredenn: Binary Stars
- Sky Force: Reloaded
- R-Type Dimensions EX
- Shikhondo – Soul Eater
- AngerForce: Reloaded
- Aero Fighters 2 (ACA Neogeo)
- Lightening Force: Quest for the darkstar (Sega Ages)
- Switch ‘N’ Shoot
- Last Resort (ACA Neogeo)