Five characters looking for author
We were initially promised to offer you only a conversion analysis for the Nintendo hybrid console rather than the gameplay itself, of which the good Mastelli Speed had provided a complete and exhaustive analysis no more than six months ago, but Thimbleweed Park it means a lot for those who, like us, grew up in the ’80s and’ 90s.
These were the years when technical limitations were one of the starting points of game design, where realizing huge open worlds was almost impossible (Bethesda was a story in itself) and, especially, were the years when the graphic adventures of LucasArts and Sierra (in this order, as far as we are concerned) were some of the most genial, fun and challenging titles on the market.
Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, thirty years later, are no longer central figures within the videogame industry, which has evolved in the meantime and has changed enormously, in some ways from a point of view and worse under others; Yet, the welcome to Thimbleweed Park, the international press reports, the number of copies (digital) sold, and finally the conversion for all the home consoles currently on the market show how a certain way of making video games never died .
Forgotten for a few years, of course, modified to meet the tastes of a much less dedicated audience (think of Telltale’s adventures), but the craftsmanship of Gilbert’s graphic adventures and company is still topical, and Ray’s agent adventure and Reyes shows it with force.
In addition to their two, ironic vice versa by Mulder and Scully, the player will be put under the command of Ransome the Clown, which is unprecedented in the year that marked the return on the great screen of his majesty Stephen King and a father and daughter, Franklin and Delores, the one outlawed and the other wannabe game designer: the cast has nothing to envy to the finest pieces of LucasArts’ golden years of software, including delusional dialogues, continuous references to pop culture contemporary, metanarrative and breakthrough of the fourth wall.
The goodness of the puzzles, the character characterization, the thousand and a quotes, the visual presentation are all excellent reasons to give you a short break at Thimbleweed Park, and although the sounding vote assigned to the PC version leaves no room for doubt, we press to emphasize once again, if it was not clear.
Now, however, we will also list a couple of reasons why we have confirmed the excellent vote already gained: (spoiler) the Switch version is definitely the best of the batch of those consoles, just half a step below that for personal computers.
Toes of fingers
Ignoring gameplay analysis, unchanged as we talk about a dry port and not a Director’s Cut version, the real protagonists of the Switch version of Thimbleweed Park are the touch controls, quite similar to those implemented in the iOS version of the title, so precise and absolutely preferable to traditional ones, imparted by pad.
Holding your finger at any point on the touch screen, in portable or desktop mode, serves to highlight all the hotspots, that is, the on-screen interaction points: this simple feature, even in other console versions, is here greater immediacy and makes the resolution phases of the many enigmas present much slimmer.
Ron Gilbert’s last effort, while offering an easy way to make life less durable to the new levers and who had not been there for thirty years ago, still has many “old-fashioned” situations in which to find what the ” The right thing to do in the vast inventory to keep going is not easy at all: here’s what Switch then puts your head ahead of the other versions.
As far as tested, however, the precision of tactile controls is very good: none of the inputs imparted went blank, and the required precision looked even lower than the other console versions, alleviating the couple of situations in which the search for clues and objects turned into pixel hunt.
Swiping it with two fingers on the Switch screen serves to skip dialogs to minimize dead times in the case of long jumper exchanges, while the three-finger jumper allows you to skip a whole cutscene: extremely natural movements, but not so simple to be done by chance, so much so that we have never accidentally jump intermittent scenes.
More in general, despite the ideal configuration for this type of adventure, it will always be that of mouse and keyboard, the tactile solution allowed by the Nintendo flagship is intuitive and allows quick and painless handling of the equipment, rising well above the versions for Xbox One and PS4, where many compromises are evident (and unfortunately inevitable) as to the accuracy and responsiveness of the control system.
Moreover, given the small size of the Switch library, which has been on the market for only seven months, the value of a production like Thimbleweed Park, beyond the intrinsic one, increases for the general lack of alternatives with the exception of Minecraft Story Mode, however distant enough for rhythm and complexity of puzzles.
Pixel art in the true sense of the word
At the technical and artistic level, there is little to notice: the splendid pixel art admired in the previous versions reappears in Switch mode, with certain settings that enjoy the brightness of the integrated console screen and others, the most full of objects, which instead make it better on home TV.
Playing in dock mode, however, controls go automatic to analog and digital cross, losing this version its main prerogative; we then noticed, and we did not remember having met them on PC, the least slowdowns in certain game points, mostly close to sections with insisted horizontal scrolling and particularly busy crowds.