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New Switch Game Is Like Symphony Of The Night With JRPG Graphics

Illustration for article titled New Switch Game Is Like iSymphony Of The Night/i With JRPG Graphics

Timespinner is a game that’s trying really hard to be Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It’s got the platforming, the inventory, the experience points and all sorts of artifacts that give main character Lunais new paths to explore. It’s the most Symphony of the Night game I’ve played that wasn’t actually Symphony of the Night.

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Kickstarted in 2014 and released last year for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Vita, Timespinner is a game I should have played prior to this week’s Switch and Xbox One releases. It wasn’t on my radar until this past Sunday, when Jason Schreier offered up a code in our work Slack. He said it is “basically Symphony of the Night,” which should be on the game’s official marketing materials.

Illustration for article titled New Switch Game Is Like iSymphony Of The Night/i With JRPG Graphics
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Instead of the son of Dracula, Timespinner stars Lunais, a blue-haired hero chosen to wield the ability to control time. Upon taking up the mantle of Timespinner, Lunais’ village is invaded and her mother murdered by the evil Lachiem Empire. Transported to a strange world far in the past, Lunais must reclaim her Timespinner powers so she can travel back to the present and get revenge. As the story unfolds, our hero learns that history isn’t always right, and nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

Illustration for article titled New Switch Game Is Like iSymphony Of The Night/i With JRPG Graphics

As with all good Metroidvanias, a term coined to describe Symphony of the Night, Lunais’ path is almost never straightforward. Using her ability to warp through time, she bops back and forth between the past and present at will, slowly uncovering all the nooks and crannies of two different but somewhat similar sprawling maps. There are out-of-reach ledges that can’t be accessed until Lunais earns the ability to double jump. Later on she earns the Water Mask, a relic that allows her to breathe and maneuver underwater. Sometimes her path is blocked by more mundane means, like keycards or petrified vines that can be burned in the past but not the future.

There’s a lot of backtracking. Fortunately, the combat and movement in Timespinner is excellent. It’s got that good sticky friction, making tricky jumps easy to pull off. Lunais’ pirouetting double jump is lovely, great for exploration and enemy avoidance. And then she’s got a slide move, like she’s some sort of vampire offspring or something.

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In battle, Lunais wields a pair of orbs that can be swapped out and leveled up. Currently I have one that spawns a small sword when I attack and another that shoots fireballs. Both are augmented by a Scythe Ring, which adds spinning blades to the orbs so anything that comes into contact with Lunais takes damage. Finally I’ve got the Colossal Blade necklace as my major magic power, spawning exactly what it sounds like for a massive attack in combat.

Illustration for article titled New Switch Game Is Like iSymphony Of The Night/i With JRPG Graphics
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Traveling back and forth across maps in the past and future never gets old, especially once Lunais gains the ability to fast travel to special gate rooms scattered about the game world. If anything, fighting and exploring is a bit too compelling, as I have a tendency to out-level enemies, making challenging boss fights much less so.

Illustration for article titled New Switch Game Is Like iSymphony Of The Night/i With JRPG Graphics
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Timespinner does Symphony of the Night quite well, but it’s not that great at spinning time outside of switching between maps. Lunais has the ability to temporarily freeze the action, based on the amount of sand in an hourglass located in the top left corner of the screen. When frozen, enemies become platforms, which is a neat way to explore out-of-reach space, but it feels like it’s hardly ever necessary. I’ve hit the button to freeze time accidentally more than I’ve done it on purpose.

Time manipulation in Timespinner feels like an afterthought, but when the forethought is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, that’s not so bad.

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.

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DISCUSSION

I backed this on Kickstarter and really enjoyed the game when it was released. The game systems, the world, the weapons - almost all fun and interesting. More or less pure SNES/PS1 joy.

That being said, I find the characters in the game to be very oddly written. The main writer is apparently some manner of LGBTQ rights activist or something and it shines through like a roaring torch in a dark cave. Literally every character of note in the game is either transsexual, homosexual, bisexual, polyamorous, or some combination of the above. The one exception is the hilariously evil heterosexual white male enemy character who misinterprets a one-night-stand to be true love.

This part of the plot mostly plays out in sidequests and is as such not a huge deal in a game where the main joy comes from finding secrets, leveling and becoming swole, and thereafter destroying enemies in new and creative ways. But I must say that it REALLY sticks out. It’s as if someone tried their goddamn hardest to cram every minority group in the world into a game that really only has like 8 characters. (And I’m willing to bet that that’s exactly what the writer did.)

I’d say it’s up there with Shovel Knight in terms on gameplay and pure joy of playing. But the story beats above stick out with such sore thumbery that I can’t not be annoyed by them, lowering my score a bit.