Nuclear Throne – Nintendo Switch Review

Hey Focaccias, Toast here. During my hiatus, I found great comfort in the pick up and play nature of the Switch. On a break? Switch. Toilet? Switch. Partner screaming at you? Switch. It was perfect. Games come and go as quickly as you dip in and out of sessions, but not Nuclear Throne. Nah, that one sticks around like a bad smell.

Nuclear Throne joins the ever expanding, seemingly endless library of Rogue-Likes on the Switch. This means lots of runnin’, lootin’ and of course, shootin’. You take the role of a mutated animal – although plants and rocks may also gain sentience – and you make your way through a series of levels to reach the titular Nuclear Throne.

Your path to said Throne is blocked by literally hundreds of enemies, most of which are going to use everything at their disposal to kill you. Everything from bandits, rats, ninjas, robot dogs and terrifyingly large scorpions (to name a few) are itching to nab a piece of your radioative meat.

Luckily for you, Nuclear Throne provides a large selection of weapons in which to face the mutated horde. Rocket launchers, lasers, miniguns, the game has it all. Not all weapons are created equal, and you can only carry 2, so experimenting and finding the best loadout is all part of the fun.

Despite the sizeable array of boomsticks at your disposal, death is an inevitability. It will strike hard, fast and often and upon death, you lose all your progress. A typical newbie run might last 1-2 minutes, so jumping into a round of ‘Throne is a fairly small time investment.

Of course that investment would be for naught if the game wasn’t actually fun to play. Luckily for us, Nuclear Throne is an absolute blast from death, to death. Controls are tight and responsive, weapons are satisfying to use and it all just meshes together and makes a wonderfully enjoyable soup.

Nuclear Throne’s sound design is one of the biggest contributors to its seductive appeal. Every gun from basic pistol to double barreled shotgun sounds amazing. Every shot has so much ‘ooomph’ behind it giving the game a real sense of weight. The soundtrack is firmly in the background to not distract from the carnage, but it got it’s hooks in me straight away, and I can’t stop humming the title track.

Graphically Nuclear Throne is a bit simple, perhaps too simple. As is common with the genre, it goes for a pixel art aesthetic. Unlike titans of the genre like Binding of Isaac or Enter the Gungeon, Nuclear Throne just looks a little bit empty. It has a style, but it doesn’t really carry the game as heavily as the sound or gameplay.

That wouldn’t be an issue if the lack of flair was to ensure a smooth gameplay experience. Alas, Nuclear Throne stumbles at this hurdle quite spectacularly. Once the action picks up, the game will start stuttering. In later levels, it can be as bad as a slow motion filter. It’s not game ruining, but it is certainly not what I expected when I loaded the game up. On the plus side loading times are almost instantaneous, perfect for them super short gameplay bursts the game is trying to nail.

Overall Nuclear Throne is a mighty fine game. What it does right, it knocks out of the park with a sledgehammer. Whilst it does choke under the weight of its action, for me this didn’t stiffle my enjoyment to the point where I stopped playing.

What do you think of this port? Are you going to pick this up? Let me know in the comments below.


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