The influx of mobile games on the Nintendo Switch since its launch has been met with mixed reactions. On the one hand it provides some approachable experiences, complimenting the other games on the eShop and indeed on store shelves. At their best, these mobile titles introduce new audiences to hidden gems with complete content packages and extra control schemes, such as Deemo or Piczle lines DX. The other side of the coin, however, is that the blemishes become easier to see and cracks begin to appear. Recent, sloppy ports of MUJO and Maria the Witch prove that consoles can - to a certain extent - become a victim of their own success, especially in the first year.
Red Game Without a Great Name is yet another port of a mobile (and PlayStation Vita) game that was released in 2015 from developer ifun4all, which has also recently brought over the similar Green Game: TimeSwapper to the Switch.
The crux of 'Red Game' involves guiding our mechanical avian hero in order to navigate levels by teleportation. Dodge barbed wire and spikes, collect gears and make it to the safe zone. You will weave through narrow passageways and between towering structures that are lined with windmilling saw blades and other such obstacles. By holding your finger down you'll be able to extend a dotted line so you can zoom through walls and dodge traps. Initially, a few short tutorial levels will help establish the parameters in which you can manoeuvre and it is deceptively easy, until it isn't. Collect three cogs on your way to the end zone and it's on to the next level, of which there are 60 in total.
That's your lot as far as the gameplay goes. Red Game follows (or is followed by, depending on which country you're in) its colourful sibling by having a 'simple to pick up, difficult to master' rhetoric. While chronologically the two games were released over a year apart, with 'Green' technically being the sequel, the two have been released very close together on Switch and in a different order between territories; to the untrained eye the two games, besides their strikingly different colour palette (if not their design) could be almost mistaken for each other.
Red is indeed more of an arcade-style game, as it doesn't require as much tricky manipulation as Green. There are a few power-ups to pick up along the way and the jazzy, swing soundtrack is welcome, but the self-proclaimed addictive qualities may turn into frustration for even persistent players. As with the Green variation the core gameplay idea here is still centred exclusively around the touchscreen, which brings about the same issues.
The lack of any extra control options is annoying, especially considering that using your finger all over the screen obscures the view, not to mention its occasional lack of responsiveness. If you aren't tired of the silhouette aesthetic it would at least look pleasing on a big screen, given the chance. The second notable issue is that the game, despite its neat mechanic, is impeded by its autorunning nature. Make your first move and (most of the time) the screen is constantly in motion, so you'll go back and forth waiting for the right gap to appear, only to get caught on a spike trap or pillar that's just out of shot.
The collision detection also felt inconsistent in our time with the game, which made for some infuriatingly cheap deaths. Admittedly the restarts are swift, but that is beside the point. It seems even more curious, then, that a prominent death counter is never far away to taunt you. There's no punishment for incompetence (aside from the constant reminders) and there's no real reward for a perfect run besides a 'flawless' message upon completing a level. The combination of iffy controls and an automatically moving screen add only awkwardness to a mediocre experience. Furthermore, the potential for puzzles or unlockable areas is never fulfilled, and its reliance on player persistence keeps the game shallow and repetitive.
Regardless of which you were aware of first, both the 'Red' and 'Green' games have a very similar style, control scheme, gameplay and overall experience. They are inexpensive and each has a good if undeveloped core idea, but with very little attempt to add variety, expand or optimise for the Switch, they're unable to reach the heights we hope to see on dedicated gaming hardware.
There is no shortage of quality games to play - covering a wide range of genres, styles and just about any other criteria you could ask for - in the Switch eShop library. Red Game Without a Great Name ends up being disappointing, then, as you'll likely become frustrated with its occasionally inconsistent touch-based controls, along with its initially cool but repetitive mechanic and devilish level design. It attempts to hide its flaws behind some stylish yet derivative silhouette designs and some pretty cool jazz tunes. In the end, though, we have an average game with a bad name.