Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal attempts to inject puzzle-solving and heavy exploration into the classic Sonic formula, and the result is a mess of gameplay styles that never feel comfortable with each other. Running one minute and clumsily searching for required hidden items the next is awkward and unrewarding, and being forced to retread the same level several times before unlocking the next is a bore. With a heaping helping of poorly written and unskippable cutscenes, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal is a slog that never finds its footing.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse succeeds by building a funny, gorgeous world around its tried and true Metroidvania gameplay. In the brief moments when the combat becomes exhausting, it’s the writing, in all its self-referential and juvenile glory, and its visual splendor that keep the pace going. Though it’s an unmistakable tribute to Metroid and Castlevania, infusing a sharp wit and bold style helps Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse stand above its retro-inspired contemporaries.
Mario Party: Island Tour’s single-player campaign is laughably bad, and the ambitious, content-rich multiplayer options and unique game boards are ultimately dragged down by mostly boring minigames and unfortunate system-jerking motion control. A group of friends might only have fleeting good times with this collection.
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games has some good ideas but it's weighed down by bad motion controls.
I've enjoyed the recent adventures of Mario, Kirby, and Donkey Kong as well as the more insane challenge of Super Meat Boy and Cloudberry Kingdom, but Rayman Legends outshines them all. Brimming with charm and creativity, Rayman Legends is the finest 2D platformer of this generation, and handily so.