Riddled Corpses EX for the Nintendo Switch Review

Riddled Corpses EX for the Nintendo Switch

Story

Scientists have been meddling with time travel in an attempt to completely eradicate evil from this world. In doing so however they inadvertently opened portals to hell in which demon hoards have now started crossing over to our world en mass.

The fate of our world now falls to a select handful of agents to fight back the monsters and destroy the devil himself, thus closing the portals for good.

Gameplay

Riddled Corpses EX is a twin-stick shooter made in the style of the 8/16bit era of arcade games.
At the start of the game you are greeted by a diagram outlining the very simple controls, then you are given a brief story cutscene to help set the tone.
You are then thrown straight into the action.

For those looking for more of a tutorial section I’m sad to say you are out of luck here. Riddled Corpses EX literally drops you straight into the game and you are left to figure out the rest yourself. But don’t worry the controls can easily be found again in the main menu at any time.

There are three modes on offer here; Story, Arcade and Survival.
Story mode gives you 5 levels of monster mayhem complete with an end boss and some mini bosses. Each level puts you in a different scenario with it’s own unique theme, monster types and final boss.
Arcade mode sees you fighting for high scores in the aforementioned levels which can then be posted to an online leaderboard.
Survival mode I’m sure many of you will be familiar with. You’re pitted against wave after increasingly difficult wave of enemies and you must survive for as long as possible.

There is an option for 2 player local co-op and I’m pleased to report that everything runs great. I never noticed any hiccups in framerate whether in docked, handheld or 2 player. It maintained a stable 60fps throughout my 10+ hour playthrough.

Riddled Corpses is indeed a lot of fun to play, though it’s certainly not without it faults. Well I say faults but it’s more like minor gripes that others may be fine with.
My main bone of contention sits firmly with the UI (or lack thereof). The absence of a proper tutorial can be overlooked provided the UI and HUD is self explanatory. Here it is neither of those (at least for me).
Now I can’t be sure whether this is down to me not having played a “Shmup” for quite some time or there were genuine holes in the interface. For instance the characters stats. They are broken down into MOVE, SHOT SP, DELAY, DAMAGE and ABILITY.
With the obvious ones aside (pretty sure we all know what move and damage does). I wasn’t sure what Shot SP was for so I had to GUESS it was to determine how fast your combo gauge fills up. Delay I ASSUMED was my rate of fire and Ability wasn’t explained whether this is intrinsic or active.

I can’t explain why but it just didn’t seem very obvious to me. For those battle hardened Shmup fanatics out there this will sound like a no-brainer, but for me it was actually quite frustrating. Especially when I was around 5 hours into my playthrough and I’m still trying to figure these basic things out! It made it harder than it should’ve been to compare character stats for those later, harder levels where I had to try several characters.

It really goes without saying that there is absolutely no hand holding throughout the game, instead emphasising quick pick up and play sessions. It’s this department where the game really shines. It’s super addictive and with next to no loading times (I’m serious, from startup to actual gameplay takes around 12 seconds!) it’s the perfect game to fill a spare 5 minutes or a short bus ride home.

The bulk of the gameplay is primarily an on-rails shooter. Wiping out the beasties while the screen slowly pans through the stage, edging you closer to the boss, though occasionally it’ll stop you on the spot and start to bombard you with enemies. Take out all the minions then you can proceed (easier said than done). The various colourful ghoulies will sometimes drop power ups to aid you in battle. These come in the form of LIVES, STOP CLOCKS and GRENADES.

Controls

Possibly one of the finest aspects of the game. The controls are tight, precise and intuitive. In typical twin-stick shooter fashion you move your character with the left analogue stick and shoot with the right, giving you full 360° movement and shot direction. As mentioned earlier your stop clocks are mapped to L and grenades to R. They’re also mapped to Y and A respectively though in a twin-stick shooter you really don’t want to be taking your thumbs off the sticks.
You can also lay down a “turret” with the B button to give yourself some much needed covering fire.

Not only do the enemies drop power ups but they also drop gold. A much needed commodity and the games only currency. Gold is used to purchase everything in the game (and believe me you are going to need a boat-load of it!) from power ups to characters and character upgrades. This along with the dropped items injects the risk/reward system. “Do I run in and grab the gold or wait? Can I make it to that extra life or will I die in the process?”

As well as using a Pro Controller or split Joy-Con’s you also have the option of single Joy-Con on it’s side in case you want to play co-op but don’t have additional Joy-Con’s or a Pro Controller. Since you are now playing with only one stick they have included a “hold position” button. The stick will control character movement and firing is automated. I haven’t tried this control method and to be honest it doesn’t sound very fun.

Graphics

The visual style chosen is a 16bit pixel art with some actually impressive sprite work. The monsters themselves look great and there is fair bit of variety between them. Ranging from obvious tropes like zombies and skeletons to more comical types such as American football players that charge at you.
The character sprites on the other hand aren’t quite so impressive. Opting for more of a Japanese Anime look each one does look unique though they are so small it’s hard to see most of the detail. They are overshadowed furthermore in the later levels where the enemies start getting larger and tougher. The screen can sometimes get so cluttered that it sometimes makes it hard to see where your character is.

There are some visual tweaks you can do to help you in your quest like hitting the “-” button to turn the HUD transparent or off altogether. In the options menu you can switch effects transparency on or off if you want to tone down the bullet spray or explosions. If you like filters however there are two to choose from, “interpolation” which smooths all the pixels out giving the game a cell shaded look, or “CRT TV” (complete with rounded screen edges) for those seeking a true throwback style.

The bosses for me however were the true showstoppers. Each one different from the last, they look positively nightmarish and fill most of the screen.

Sound

The chiptunes throughout are married perfectly to emulate the arcade nature of the visuals. In the levels they are fairly up-tempo and have somewhat of an action film flavour to them whilst the cutscenes have a more foreboding tone to them. I wouldn’t go as far as to say any one of them is memorable like a Super Mario Bros. tune though they still fit the game well enough to get the blood pumping.
Whilst I’m on the topic of the music you have the choice of the older “classic” soundtrack and the “new” soundtrack from the options menu. I’m going to assume this new soundtrack came with the EX version.

Cutting through the crowds provides you with lots of satisfying grunts and groans and explosions sound suitably meaty. It’s then to my surprise that your own guns sound somewhat “whiffy.” Not all of them mind, but you do get some that are a bit “pew pew” or just a constant clicking. This wouldn’t be all that bad except in the later stages where there is so much carnage that your guns can get outright drowned out.

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Unfortunately I did come across one odd sound glitch in the game. I’m still not sure exactly how it happened but it occurred whilst I was farming for gold. I decided to go back to level 1 and for some reason the music didn’t load up. This wouldn’t be so bad except now your only left with your “whiffy” guns, explosions and monster growls. It left the game sounding very flat and a far departure from the awesome bombastic soundtrack that was carrying the action. I managed to remedy this by restarting the game. Let’s hope it can get patched out.

Value

With just three main game modes and five story levels you might be thinking that the game is lacking in the content and substance department. However what the game lacks in content it more than makes up for in replayability and grind. Yes you are going to have to do a lot of grinding for this one if you want to unlock everything the game has. I can understand there are going to be a lot of people put off by this grind mechanic but I assure you it is very rewarding. As stated before gold is what you’re going to be chasing from start to finish. You’ll start off naturally very weak but once you start pumping some of that bullion into your characters you’ll start to really feel your hard work pay off. Upgrading (whilst not affecting your character stats) will improve your bullet spread and power essentially reducing your time to kill.

There are a total of eight characters though the first one is given to you. Every character thereafter requires certain criteria to be met in order to obtain them. Whether it’s to max out a particular characters level (not as bad as it sounds honestly they max at 20) or simply complete story mode (ok a lot harder, I’m 12 hours in and stuck on the final boss!)

Collectibles and achievements are also present here though if you can figure these out please let me know as they too suffer from the poor UI. From what I’ve gathered so far collectables come in the form of Dolls/Statues/Badges (yeah I know) and these are dropped from enemies. Not only do they grant you some much needed gold but the game keeps a tally of how many you’ve collected. This can be seen on the character upgrades screen, though I can’t click on them so I still don’t know what they are.
Achievements come in the form of little stamp-like icons/pictures which can be viewed from the main menu. All I can tell you for now is that there are 17 in total and I have no idea how to get them. They may well be linked to the collectibles or simply game progress. This leads me back to my earlier points if frustration. Generally speaking collectibles and achievements are usually explained or at least given descriptions so as to provide you with the motivation to get back out there and hunt them down. Sadly not here.

Coming in at just £8.99 in the UK or $9.99 in the US Riddled Corpses EX is very good value. For what seemed like a very lite game from the outset had me grinding for hours and surprisingly I enjoyed every minute of it.

A very bare-bones shooter with a classic style that’s bound to sink it’s teeth into anyone looking for a challenge or a fun and rewarding grind.
Mired as it is by a lackluster interface and general lack of explanation of anything, it was still a huge time sink for me and I intend to jump back in soon to finish off that boss!

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Review by Micramanic on the Nintendo Switch, game provided by COWCAT Games.