- Super Metroid
- Resident Evil 2
- Banjo Kazooie
Chrono Cross was and remains a great JRPG that has its place in the pantheon of great classics. It's well worth playing especially for fans of the Chrono series who maybe had only ever experienced Chrono Trigger before. This is perhaps not quite as cohesive an experience as its predecessor was, because it plays in a way that's more experimental and not quite as refined, and its plot is a bit harder to follow. However, because of its plot ties to the great original and how it connects to it, it is essential to play for fans of the latter, and despite minor shortcomings that hold it back from being as big a classic, it's still well worth experiencing today. With that in mind, Chrono Cross: Radical Dreamers Edition, as a new release of this classic, is not all that it could or should have been on any platforms, including Nintendo Switch, due to a poor level of performance that's just inexcusable, given that other PS1 games just as demanding as this one made the transition so much better, at least performance-wise.
It's not often that you find a Metroidvania that actually measures up to its models, while still managing to put its own attractive spin on the old formula. Record of Lodoss War -Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth- absolutely delivers and manages to capture the Symphony of the Night look and feel brilliantly, while still being its own title. There are only two real drawbacks that keep the experience from being perfect: performance can have dips, manifested with slowdown rather than dropped frames, but only in circumstances where it doesn't affect gameplay at all. Then, newcomers to the Record of Lodoss War universe will be left completely lost as to who the characters are, and how they relate to one another, making the story tough to care for. Everything else however feels perfect and proved memorable in a way that Konami's eponymous franchise always managed to deliver with its 2D incarnations.
Pokémon Legends Arceus is a successful attempt at making something new and fresh with the same concepts and ideas that have driven the franchise for thepast nigh on three decades. It is addictive, has charming characters and scenes, and has plenty of content to savour for fans of collectathons. It is a cohesive package on every front. This game is, however, embarrassingly clumsily put together from a graphical standpoint. This does not make it less enjoyable on a pure gameplay level, but during quiet times when little action is happening and players will want to take in what is presented on screen at face value, it is especially jarring. We loved the gameplay loop of Pokémon Legends Arceus, it has been one of the most engaging experiences to come out of Nintendo or Game Freak of the past few years, but it is well past time for either of those actors to finally take the right steps to solve this recurring lack of technical finesse from the series.
These remakes are totally serviceable and a very good time for any Pokémon fan out there. There is however a nagging sense that more perhaps could have been done, especially for fully priced releases. The Pokémon franchise is big, the company behind these games makes millions off of these and yet there is a feeling time and time again that we're not getting the full AAA experience that such selling numbers should warrant, and this is seen very plainly in how technically dated these games look, even if artistically speaking they are still super cute. We are pleased with these remakes for sure, they're jolly good fun... but we're not impressed and this has to change in the future for the franchise!
The rearranged soundtrack coupled to new compositions is stunningly awesome, as Yuzo Koshiro recaptures brilliantly the spirit of the original and the gameplay of the side-scrolling sections is even better than in the original. However, the questionable choices in the art direction, the bugs, poor performance and the, at times, way too wordy expanded script, mar the experience in such a way that what should have been the masterful return of a masterpiece instead turns out to be a nice introduction to the classic for new audiences, but not much more. There's no shaking the feeling that this re-release was not treated with all the care that such an important landmark title deserved. The extra content sweetens the deal somewhat, and encourages fans of the original to come back for more, but the price of admission for such an end result is a bit too much perhaps.
Space Invaders Forever is a three-game package, where one of them is downright excellent, one of them is an interesting and fun concept, but isn't the most comfortable to play with on Switch, and the last one is only a bit of fun in multiplayer. The first of the bunch itself could justify the purchase if the package was priced a bit more sensibly, but this should really have included more of the excellent updates to the Space Invaders formula that have been released over the years. Furthermore, people who have purchased the digital package at launch on the eShop had issues getting Arkanoid vs Space Invaders to install on their system. We're told this is not a problem anymore though.
Chicken Police - Paint it Red! is a total good surprise. It hits every nail squarely on the head and leaves the player with a satisfying sense of accomplishment, while being a ruddy good time all the way through. Yes, the English written script leaves something to be desired and should totally be fixed as soon as possible, meaning it's not perfect in that sense. It is also somewhat short for the price but this is something we can more easily let it slide when a game is just consistently enjoyable all the way through like it is here. Lovers of animals, film noir, adult humour, police mysteries and point n' click adventures... all of the above are likely to find a lot to be liked about this piece of software.
Umihara Kawase Bazooka! is a niche title in a niche genre featuring a niche franchise. As arcade-style single-screen action-platformers go, this is a good one with a unique gameplay so fans of that sort of thing should go for it if they can swallow the steep launch price. Anyone else though, including fans of said franchise may have reason enough to be on the fence as this is definitely way different from the rest of the series. This is a rather unique game that will appeal most to score chasers and not the core speedrunning fanbase of the series, although one could imagine speedrunning this all the same of course. There is a demo available but, at time of writing, only on the Japanese eShop for some reason. Players still on the fence with a Japanese eShop account may check it out and decide for themselves.
As an expansion to the main game, The Crown Tundra offers perhaps even less varied distractions than its predecessor, The Isle of Armor, and fewer rewards or strategic advantages to unlock. However, it also potentially offers more playtime, since Dynamax Adventures are sure to keep players invested in search of a sought-after rare or legendary shiny Pokémon with good IVs. Since both expansions can't be bought separately and come bundled no matter what, both ultimately complement one another rather well. It is therefore hard to scoff at what's on offer in the Expansion Pass, although it should only be considered indispensable by the most eager Pokémon fans, who are more likely to get the most value out of it.
Kirby Fighters 2 gets a recommendation for die-hard fans of Kirby in particular and to parents looking for a game that's not too expensive and easy enough to get a grasp on for younger kids who won't mind that this is all about Kirby and no other character. There is nothing intrinsically bad about it and it is a fun experience in multiplayer, no doubt, but strip it out of the Kirby license and this falls short in terms of actual content variation. Hardcore fans of brawlers with deep gameplay mechanics like Smash Bros. will find this one somewhat lacking.
In many aspects, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 reiterates all the good things of the first instalment, and goes beyond just enough to justify its existence. All qualities of its predecessor are in place, with an extra dose of wackiness and originality on top. The classic Castlevania 3-inspired recipe works just as well now, and the retro-stiff but tight and satisfying controls are a joy to experience for any fans of the genre. Inti Creates did it again!
Darius Cozmic Collection Console is, like Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade; a great collection, no doubt. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with it as it is, since all games included are good and worth checking out - but the same issue of price is there. Different game versions aside, only four games are included this time, and if anyone already owns the arcade collection then only two of those are actually properly exclusive to it, since two are console ports of arcade games. This one is therefore, despite being just as good, even harder to recommend at its launching price. If the price ever goes down, or if it gets freely updated with the missing extra games, then that would be a different matter.
All three games available in Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade, in all of their included versions, are well worth playing for any fan of shoot 'em ups out there. Those are the best ports anyone could hope for, and there is nothing wrong with them in their own right. The fact that running them on a home arcade cabinet is practically impossible because of the multi-monitor nature of the first two games included, makes this collection very desirable indeed for the sake of preservation alone. The price of admission, however, is pretty steep if one considers that only three games are truly included - no matter how great they are, and that the first neither has aged particularly well, nor is comfortable to play on modern 16:9 displays. G-Darius and Dariusburst Another Chronicle are sorely missing from this compilation, to the point of being outrageous. A very good collection then, just not priced very sensibly.
Missile Command: Recharged on the Switch eShop, is a cheap release that doesn't do much… but does everything right. It's about just as straightforward as the 1980 coin-op, and it can be had for a little stack of quarters. It is therefore hard to complain at the simplicity, as what is available plays well, at least in handheld mode, and the experience does prove surprisingly addictive. Well, no, it's not so surprising, really - it already was addictive 40 years ago, even on Atari 2600, so it would be hard for it to not be so on the Switch. It may be simple and repetitive, but this is one which, installed on the system, can make a short bus ride or car trip much less dull.
Thunder Force AC is a fantastic classic shoot 'em up, and its inclusion on Switch, along with some added bonuses, is a welcome addition to the SEGA AGES line-up. It is only held back by the lack of the original version, Thunder Force III, of which this one is but a slightly remixed version. Seems like a lost opportunity, but here's hoping the developer won't dare releasing it separately.
Fantasy Zone itself is a title that was designed from the ground-up to be a short, but intense arcade romp. In this day and age, this wouldn't stand a chance by itself, but such a meaningful re-release, packed with all the features any old fan could want, makes this a thoroughly recommended classic to revisit in 2020, for both old and newer fans of Sega.