As soon as I heard about Short Games Collection, I knew it was definitely something that belonged in teeny tiny games. What I didn’t know was that I was in for a wild and trippy ride.
This curated selection of short games packs five artistic experiences that seek to challenge the player in all sorts of ways. I use the word “artistic” in good measure. Just like any piece of art that seeks to be thought-provoking, the games presented here won’t be for everyone. Far from it. And you know what? That’s a good thing. We need to bring these little nuggets of weirdness from the depths of itch.io and alike. They challenge and force us to rethink this medium we think we know so well.
That doesn’t mean that all of them will hit the right spot for you but who says it has to? Experience is the word to have in mind when picking up the Short Games Collection from your Nintendo eShop. But before I lose you with any more of my musings, let’s take a closer look at each game of this psychedelic bundle:
The Good Time Garden
This fever dream turned into a game by creators James Carbutt and Will Todd puts the player in the naked flesh of a creature in a pink world. You are brought into this Barbie-palette plane of existence without a goal or a clear indication of what is expected of you. Thankfully, the game unfolds in an intuitive approach, and the player soon understands that feeding your friend is the goal of the game.
Much of the interactions you have with the characters of this game and the ending in itself are very open to your own interpretation. The Good Time Garden feels like a perfect example of a game that has much more going on with its subtexts than what is actually presented to the player. It made me question the simple act of continuing to play the game until the end, a moral dilemma that surprised me, to say the least.
Swallow The Sea
My favourite game of the collection, by far. Swallow The Sea is a nightmarish tale of an egg cell on a journey through a sea filled with bizarre creatures. Your goal is to prey on the smaller life forms and grow larger and stronger so you someday be born. Survival of the fittest, isn’t it right?
The violence in this game is quite graphic and it doesn’t shy away from showing you what the message of “hunt or be hunted” looks like. As you push your way through to freedom, you can’t help but think if it is worth doing so if it causes this much destruction.
I just know that Freud would have a field day with a game that connects the act of being born with so much violence.
Swallow the Sea was developed by Maceo bob Mair and Nicolás Delgado.
A Game Literally About Doing Your Taxes
It is as its title says: a game literally about doing your taxes. The boring repetition of doing your taxes is gloriously translated into this pixelated simulation. As a law-abiding citizen, the player’s job is to sort the tax from the trash and make it until the end of the week.
This very quick game ended up being one of the games I have most replayed in the collection. And that’s all I am willing to say about this game created by Not a Sailor Studios.
Ghostein is the most somber game of the collection as well as the one that is easiest for players to start with thanks to its clear narrative structure and more traditional presentation. Ghostein turns the player into a ghost with the goal of helping a child escape out of a concentration camp. The World War II setting is as heavy as it should be and it’s dealt with a gentle touch, clearly coming from a place of kindness and a desire to not see one of the worst crimes in the history of mankind happen ever again.
The mechanics of Ghostein are an original concept of using posters as a way to ensure safe passage. The ghost uses posters that signal to the child when it should go left or right, hide or stop in order to not get caught by the Nazi guards. These posters have a clear Nazi art style to them which makes it even better when you use their own propaganda against them to help the boy escape their clutches.
Ghostein was directed by Flávio Parah.
This game is the definition of psychedelic and you won’t be alone in thinking “what did I just play?” when you pick it up. My advice is just to forget what you think you know about games and just enjoy this bizarre ride of the angels.
Uranus is a self-described “kaleidoscopic audiovisual playscape” that can be experienced as a game but that wouldn’t be out of place in an electronic music club at 3 AM. This visual extravaganza was created by notagamestudio.
These games were not originally created for the Nintendo Switch but they look and play as they have always belonged there. Publisher Nerd Monkeys’ idea to assemble these games was heavily inspired by short movies collections. They wanted to bring that irreverence and creative freedom to the game scene while highlighting indie developers and their wonderfully weird gaming experiences.
Short Games Collection is available here.
Nerd Monkeys has provided a game code for review.