Soapbox: Astral Chain Was The Game Nintendo Needed Most In Its 2019 Switch Lineup

Soapbox: Astral Chain Was The Game Nintendo Needed Most In Its 2019 Switch Lineup


© PlatinumGames

Astral Chain is now a year old. In this soapbox piece, Mitch Vogel explains why he thinks it’s one of the most significant Switch titles yet.


This past weekend marked the first anniversary of the release of Astral Chain, the latest product of the long-standing collaboration between PlatinumGames and Nintendo. Featuring hectic cyberpunk battles, stylish anime action, and oodles of cats, it didn’t take long for this release to become a fan favourite and one of the best-selling games for the platform. However, Astral Chain was an even more significant title than it might appear at first glance, so much so that we’d argue it was the most important release that Nintendo put out last year.

For a quick recap, let’s take a look at what else Nintendo put out last year up until Astral Chain. It opened up the year with the January release of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, and a month later, we got the surprise release of Tetris 99. A month after that, we got Yoshi’s Crafted World, and then there was a bit of a dry spell until we got Super Mario Maker 2 in June. Then in July, we got the double feature of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Notice anything? All of these games were sequels or re-releases. Yes, it’s true that sequels comprise most of a AAA developer’s lineup, but part of the joy of a fresh platform is the chance to play brand new games and franchises that you’ve never seen before. And, to be fair, Nintendo was (and still is…) a little light on those new experiences. Labo? Sushi Striker? ARMS? With perhaps the exception of that last one, Nintendo still hadn’t really taken a shot at putting out an original big-budget game that ‘belonged’ to the Switch. It needed a game that makes a statement, the kind of thing that speaks for itself.

Large (1)

It finally got that game in August with Astral Chain, an original game in every way. The PlatinumGames billing all but guaranteed that the third-person action mechanics would be well-executed and satisfying, while the original IP allowed the developers to run wild with some cool ideas. Controlling two (well, one and a half) characters at once presented some interesting concepts, such as how the titular chain that connects the two is just as important to a fight as the fighters themselves. Then there were the open-ended detective sections, which worked as a nice palette cleanser in between battles and showed that Platinum can do more than just bombastic bosses and set-piece arena brawls.

Who could forget that thrilling intro sequence on the motorcycle, racing through a neon-infused tunnel while being hotly pursued by demonic entities?

The overall aesthetic was something new, too. Neither Nintendo nor Platinum had any cyberpunk-inspired games in their catalogues and the unique blend of tech and occultic themes led to a rather unique final product. Who could forget that thrilling intro sequence on the motorcycle, racing through a neon-infused tunnel while being hotly pursued by demonic entities? Or the moment you capture your first Chimera and get to see the combat system in full for the first time?

And then to think such a cool aesthetic was so seamlessly blended with Platinum’s goofy sense of humour. Whose idea was it to give every single vending machine its own personality? Or to have a toilet fairy that you have to ‘free’ by giving it toilet paper you find in levels? Or to have an entire game-spanning sidequest about collecting cats? Astral Chain very quickly proved itself to be an action game in a league of its own, one that wasn’t afraid to take chances and try things that would set it apart from the pack.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top