Abzu takes the graceful feel of movement and subtle push toward discovery that I've enjoyed in similar exploration games like Journey and Flower and builds a refreshing-yet-simple underwater adventure around it. The colorful settings, beautiful soundtrack, and basic controls made it a great experience that constantly piqued my interest, even if it never challenged me to master it other than deciphering its cryptic environmental clues. Instead, Abzu relishes in giving you freedom to simply enjoy exploring the fascinating deep blue sea.
Monster Hunter Generations hits the core tenets of what makes this series great. Great gear drives the lust for the hunt even on the small scale, but the big, spectacular fights ultimately matter the most. Generations’ tweaked combat adds just the right tools to make slaying epic boss monsters a fun activity that’s just as fun online or off. Playable companions help shake up the gathering game without taking away resources, and its fun to play as a wackier character. Generations only falters during slower moments spent on fetch quests and in wrangling through menus before the hunt.
Star Fox Zero's fun stages and impressive boss fight give me lot of reasons to jump back in and play them over and over, and especially enjoyed them in co-op until I got a hang of juggling two screens myself. I've played 15 hours and I still haven't found everything. Learning to use the unintuitive controls is a difficult barrier to entry, though it comes with a payoff if you can stick with it.
Star Fox Guard is a fun action-tower defense game about managing different perspectives to put out fires as you use your resources to grow an awesome arsenal of robot-busting turrets. Its graphics are plain considering Nintendo’s artistic pedigree, but it’s still an elegant little game that can get a whole room of friends working together.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD holds plenty of memorable moments that've stood the test of time, and Nintendo's high-definition update does a lot to modernize its look and feel. This cleaner, fresher presentation is still noticeably and disappointingly flat in some ways, but just past that are some of the best puzzles and dungeons to be found anywhere in the series.
Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is a rewarding and deep turn-based tactical game with a grand story and characters I liked enough that losing them in combat really stings. The intense difficulty is squarely aimed at veteran Fire Emblem players, and its satisfying campaign is full of variety and challenge. And even though a win or loss can down to sheer luck, I walked away either satisfied or eager to give it another shot.
Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster has the look and feel of a modern game, but its real problems started in 2002 and were never solved. It's a forgettable entry in an outstanding series that just doesn't measure up because of its story problems, overwhelming inventory management, and horrible predictability. Reanimating this limp corpse of a survival game in high definition only brings back the disappointment I felt when I played it the first time.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is a massive RPG with enough surface area, sub quests, and customization to keep you busy for many hours. The presentation can feel stiff and awkward at times, but the satisfying loop of combat and customization makes exploring the vast world of Mira a fun and rewarding experience.
Nintendo's take on the third-person shooter is refreshingly original, with lots of impressive tools, skillful mobility, and creative maps to play with. Matches are consistently fun and tense, and the mechanics feel simple and fair enough that almost anyone can contribute positively. Not having voice chat is a bummer, but the great modes and maps feel polished and kept me claiming turf for hours.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is more than just a fun co-op diversion from the large-scale solo adventures this series is known for. The challenging, intricate puzzles are great chaotic fun in local multiplayer or for a one-time run through in single-player. Limited communication tools make it difficult to play with adventurers online, but everywhere else it's a success.