Splatoon is not trying to corral unearned cool points with obscenity. Splatoon does not push us to accept its weirdness. Splatoon merely opens its suction-cupped palms to the sky and says, "Here," and we graciously accept, parched by the years of dusty, war-torn, bone-dry purveyors of damage masquerading as games. Each waterfall was in fact an oasis. Instead, Splatoon showers us with a heavy goop that feels amniotic. We emerge, new and refreshed. We are all squids now.
What’s so impressive about this latest Paper Mario game is that, for all intents and purposes, it could have been just as grinningly dumb. This is an adventure revolving around the antics of paper-thin varietals of cartoons. No one expects Tolstoy. But the writing is smarter than most serious videogames attempting to evoke actual emotions. And that attention to detail—and a restraint diametrically opposed to its surface lunacy—is what makes the experience so humorous.
But that's the thing with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch. On Wii U, the game was over when you stepped away from your television. As the saying goes: You can't take it with you. But now you can. Now, the game is only over when you—or the baby—says so.
As another beat draws to a close, I take a break to wrap up this review. I’m hooked on this simple, but loveable title. While I’m still itching for a realistic police title, I’m pleased with how more games about law enforcement fiction are appearing in the last year or so, and Beat Cop sits at the top of the pile in terms of enjoyment.
In this way, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is the more realistic of the two games released last week. Though one stars a human being walking among recognizable landmarks, employing guns and knives and other things of our world, it is the little pink ball of clay and his merry band of floating spike balls and giant hands with mouths that recreates a more believable, tangible world.
Old Man's Journey is a small, quiet game that you can tell was a work of passion. Sometimes the best way to get someone to listen to you is to whisper. In a just world, this spare kaleidoscope of memories and manipulated hillsides will garner as much attention as bigger games beset with earth-shaking explosions. As we all learn in time, it's often the smaller chance encounters that make the most impact on us. Especially when we look back.
The colors pop. The theme song burrows its way into your dreams. Were Nintendo to take Arms away now, it would still exist as a part of our collective memory, a phantom limb we remember having always, even if we're just now getting the hang of this fascinating new appendage.
We want to play in ways beyond the gaming population's insular past, cavorting through catastrophes and destroying the present. Our future depends on the ability to create, and design, something new. It's fun to tear something down but there's a deeper joy in building something up. Besides, there's nothing more catastrophic than the wrong wallpaper.
If you’ve messed about on the Wii U game and simply need to make 2D Mario Levels on the bus or in your bathroom, the 3DS version fits the bill. Otherwise, you’ve seen most of this circus before. If, however, you have never participated in the glory that is mucking about in an interactive toolkit for one of gaming’s most revered franchises, Super Mario Maker on 3DS becomes something like an essential backpack, or deserted island, companion. Long may you run.
I’d love to have seen a more radical take on each title’s conventions in order to play a mash-up that’s truly different. As an advertisement for each legacy franchise, though, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright is a solid showcase for what both do better than any other game, if only by default.
While the world often feels lifeless, and the combat runs on the routine side, the cast of loveable (and hateable) characters is sure to keep you locked to the screen a few hours at a time wondering where everything will lead. The game could’ve passed with the title Atelier Firis: The Mysterious Journey, because that’s exactly what it is. When I’m wrapped up with Atelier Firis, I’m likely to go back and check out the rest of the series as well and see just how we got to this point.
But it turns what could have been just another fantasy storyline into something closer to a puppet show. We, rapt by these figures on sticks, know it's all malarkey but can't wait to see what happens next. Even if—especially because?—we know they're all just cardboard and glue.
Reminders such as “The Story So Far” descriptions are available for the forgetful among us, and the next direction to venture will often be highlighted by talkative villagers, as is the custom. Ice-covered landmasses and lava-spewing volcanoes await. Dragon Quest VII may not rewrite the history books, but if you’re in the mood to sink into a thousand page tome, and could stand to be charmed by a smiling dollop of sentient goo, you’re in the right place.
In an industry that so often asks you to destroy your surroundings, a game requiring you to build them up is like a glass of cool water on a hot day. But Ever Oasis is the videogame equivalent of bottled water whose label shows mountain springs even though, in truth, it's filled with local municipal tap. It's not as fancy or original as it would like you to think. But it quenches just the same.
Scram Kitty is a game that shrugs off modern-day descriptors. It's not a throwback. It's not an open world. It's not a roguelike. There are no QTEs. No pixellated faux-8-bit art. Everything's slick and beautiful in some weird, Neo-Hanna Barbara future world of space cats and perpetual sunsets.