- Simple and accessible
- Bright and cheerful graphics
- Lack of game modes or multiplayer
- Hard to see on small screen
- Painfully repetitive
One of the major problems that has troubled the Nintendo Switch, aside from keeping up with rabid demand, has been the lack of quality titles. For a while, there was no point in picking up the console unless you wanted to play Zelda. That has changed significantly for the better, thankfully, with titles like Splatoon 2 and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, but what if you don't have $60+ to drop on some new games?
The Nintendo eShop is growing steadily with new downloadable titles all the time and they're not just the Neo Geo ports either. One of the newest additions is Boost Beast for the Nintendo Switch, brought to you by the good people at Arc System Works.
Haven't I Seen This Before?
The Arc System Works name will sound familiar to many people in the fighting game community as it is the Japan-based company behind a series of 2D "anime fighters" like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. If the core gameplay mechanic behind Boost Beast looks familiar, it's because we've been playing fundamentally the same game for over 20 years.
While it is billed as a "beat'em-up puzzle game," Boost Beast is just another take on the familiar match-three mechanic. You swap adjacent pieces, shaped after your colorful animal protagonists, to create matching rows and columns of three or more. The characters you clear are then transported to the battle stage above, facing off against wave after wave of zombies. You can swap via the touchscreen or by moving a cursor around with the d-pad and holding the A button to swap.
There are no additional modes. There's no multiplayer, online play, time attack or anything of that sort. You just mosey your way across some 200+ stages, spread across a number of differently-themed areas of increasing difficulty. When you get past the title screen, you won't find a main menu. Instead, you access options inside the game itself. And that's about it.
Boosting Those Beasts
As can be expected from all match-three type puzzle games, matching more than three animals will yield a power-up. It's mostly par for the course. Get four in a row (or a column) and you get a power-up that clears an entire row (or column), for example.
The rainbow power-up, acquired by matching five in a row, is context sensitive. While generic "white" zombies can be defeated by any old animal, red zombies can only be defeated by red animals, blue zombies by blue animals and so forth. You'll know how close you are to imminent danger based on the number of "meters" above your character on the battleground. Once the zombies close in and hit you, you're done.
While you are not offered any "free" boosts in the early stages, you are eventually treated to them later on. These can be found toward the lower-left of the screen and you access your four boosts by pressing the L button. It's not immediately obvious which power-up is which, but it doesn't take long to figure it out.
Boss Battles and New Mechanics
Second, playing on the Switch's screen directly in handheld or tabletop mode was really hard on the eyes. Too much of the screen's real estate is being taken up by the two sides that serve almost no purpose at all. The playing pieces are comparatively really, really small. Maybe I'm just old. Playing on the TV is much easier, of course, but necessarily not as portable.
To address the issue of repetitiveness and difficulty, the playing field gets a little larger but also more restrictive in its design. See those two diagonal "wings" above? You naturally can't swap any of the pieces there. You also get into boss battles where one larger undead creature must sustain a certain amount of damage to be defeated.
You also get introduced to some other game mechanics, like blocked pieces that are cleared when you match adjacent pieces, locked pieces (like they're in jail) that are cleared making a matching involving the locked piece, and a poison dynamic where all the purple spots on the board must be cleared before your animals can defeat any zombies.
The escalation is appreciated and adds a little bit of variety to the experience.
MEGATechie Boost Beast Bonanza or MEGATechie Just Let It Die?
The whole point of a game like Boost Beast is that nearly anyone can play it. If you've been playing Candy Crush on your phone, you'll feel right at home here. And that's exactly the thing: this game feels like it belongs on mobile platforms as a free-to-play title.
The colorful graphics and cute animations have their charm, but I don't feel they're quite enough to warrant the purchase price. Maybe if it was only five bucks or so. More game modes with larger play areas could make a big difference too. Boost Beast for the Nintendo Switch is available now for $9.99 through the Nintendo eShop.