A whimsical bird-focused take on skateboarding seemed delightful, but in execution, frustration dominated my playtime, whether it was struggling to find missions or battling with the loose controls. Charm is the saving grace that led to me having short-lived enjoyment. Overall, SkateBird is way more reminiscent of the janky but sometimes enjoyable games that came out in the wake of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater's success than the original product itself.
While Spelunky 2 is not quite the landmark the original game was, it carries with it the same spirit of exploration and challenge. Part of me wishes it was maybe a little more lenient, especially in the first area, but that's also not necessarily what Spelunky is all about. This is an immaculately designed game dripping with secrets and traps. It might not be for the faint of heart, but at least now with the glory of online co-op, the faint of heart can be dragged kicking and screaming to the City of Gold.
Bouncing between comical yet often heartfelt dating segments and double-entendre-laden dungeon crawling combat makes for a good genre fusion that stays enjoyable for the 5-10 hours it takes to complete. The action might not hold up to scrutiny and some aspects of the dating sim might not land well for you, but the sum of Boyfriend Dungeon's parts is greater than its pieces. The elevator pitch of dating your weapons is still as silly and goofy now as it was when the game was first revealed.
Like the oodles of Picross S games before it, Picross S Genesis and Master System Edition is another great entry in the series. It still lacks touchscreen support, but if you have any fondness for Sega in the late '80s and early '90s, this is a treat to solve all these nostalgic puzzles. I only wish this was more than just a Sega-skinned Picross S game, but if quality nonograms with a reliable interface is the biggest problem I have with this game, maybe it's not actually a problem.
The best part of Dodgeball Academia though is when everything clicks as an RPG. It's a joy to figure out the right strategy to win a tough fight. I love exploring the world and seeing what happens next in the goofy story. This isn't just a great sports game, it's also a superb RPG that, like the likes of Golf Story, should appeal to those who aren't inclined to sport.
What Skyward Sword HD does best is make a 3D Zelda once thought limited to a unique console playable in perpetuity (hopefully). Along the way, enough changes and tweaks are made to improve the adventure, whether it's streamlined tutorials or satisfactory button controls. It wasn't known at the time, but this represents the final chapter of Nintendo's 3D Zelda design that started with Ocarina of Time. With hindsight, Skyward Sword HD serves an interesting coda that paved the way for Breath of the Wild. The linear ebb and flow of Link's earliest chronological story might be rooted in the past, but it's still an engaging and cozy adventure in the present that's well worth playing or revisiting.
The free-to-play open-ended nature of Sky might be slow-paced, especially if you're not planning to empty your pocketbook, but the gentle pleasantness of exploring visually engaging worlds wordlessly with a new online friend or two is soothing and relaxing. If you even have a passing interest or fondness for Journey, checking out Sky on Switch is absolutely something you should do. It's delightful.
You might not be able to see every hair follicle on Chad Muska's head, but you'll be able to do the Muska Nose Manual and land a sick combo without any issue. That's what is important in a Tony Hawk game. Whether this game is seen as the next great portable skateboarding game or a less visually pretty home console game, the most cogent point is that it plays incredibly and with so much to do across both of the remade games, this is one of the best skateboarding games ever made.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to PlayStation Mana past, even with a handful of antiquated ideas and nagging frustrations. Legend of Mana is a game I would recommend to anyone hankering for an RPG that's a little off the beaten path. And even if you just wish this was a bread-and-butter Mana adventure, we can all appreciate the incredible soundtrack.
Even with those bouts of frustration, Stonefly is a thoroughly unique game that has novel gameplay ideas and a wonderful story. Dancing around the world while piloting your mech, trying to find emotional catharsis for your heroine while also beating up some bugs so you can get more resources to upgrade your current ride is a heck of a gameplay loop. It's well worth experiencing if you want a chill adventure.