Video games and mecha action are a match made in heaven. Games can often be pure power fantasies, throwing us into the shoes, suits and armour of any number of characters. Mechs are also predicated on that same dream, as a squidgy human clambers into a hulking, walking weapons platform to save the world.
Despite this, outside of some Japan-exclusive titles such as Virtual-On, there’s been a dearth of mech games in recent years. Project Nimbus did its best to fill that void last year, and now dashes onto the Switch with mixed results.
With a story that feels strangely similar to Ace Combat’s, two huge super nations have formed and become locked in battle for what remains of the Earth’s landmasses. As the planet has become increasingly flooded, the cities of these nations have been adapted to float above the planet to survive. While Project Nimbus’ narrative doesn’t break any new ground, the way that it’s relegated to what are essentially audio vignettes and the barest of combat dialogue mean it doesn’t feel as obtuse as it could be.
The real stars here are the mecha designs, and they wear their inspiration on their giant robotic sleeves. There are elements of Gundam, Evangelion and Zone of the Enders to be found here, each looking cooler than the last. There are plenty of these Battle Frames to choose from, each with their own individual strengths and weaknesses. These differences are fairly negligible though, so don’t expect to make painstaking decisions before heading into a battle.
Despite their size, these machines control impeccably – dashing is crucial, as is timing reloads of multiple offensive options. Some are equipped with a melee sword slash which is particularly satisfying to use, and unloading a volley of rockets against a squadron of enemy drones and destroying them feels just as fun as it does on the other console versions.
Where the Switch version suffers is, perhaps understandably, with its visuals. An early mission sees your mecha doing battle above, below, and around a floating city. The city itself is tough to look at, while the surrounding clouds look like smudges on your screen at times, especially when playing in handheld mode. Thankfully, the mechs still look great and combat is still smooth as butter. Within 10 minutes you’ll be flying, shooting, boosting and hacking missiles in half with relative ease.
Aside from an eight hour campaign, there’s a Survival mode that is a bog standard wave-based affair, as well as Warfront. In this mode, you earn new weapons and Battle Frames for completing objectives. Unfortunately, Project Nimbus’ disappointing mission structure means that whichever mode you play you’ll be completing the same objective – kill all enemies in an area. It’s a shame, because with such rapid mecha it would have been nice to see some kind of mobility-based objective modes – a variation of capture the flag or something similar, for example.