You’ll likely be done with Beasts of Maravilla Island in a couple of hours: it’s short and sweet. And while it might not be as good as the games we’ve compared it to, it’s still a pleasant and relaxing experience that we’ve enjoyed our time with. Some additional features – like photography grading – could have taken it to the next level, but as a budget release, we can’t complain too much.
If you enjoyed Escape Academy, Escape from Anti-Escape Island is an absolute no-brainer. This is a sizeable addition, adding in five new rooms filled with brand new, extra-challenging puzzles. Yes, some of them may frustrate you as you hunt for the solution – but that’s the whole point. Fighting your way off this tropical island from hell is incredibly satisfying, and we only hope Coin Crew Games has more expansions – or even a sequel – up its sleeve for the future.
Even as frustrating as some of A Little to the Left‘s more obscure puzzles can be, we still find ourselves going back to it, picking up a Daily Tidy or trying to figure out those last few solutions. Yes, there’s a big difference between the best and the worst puzzles here, but really, it doesn’t matter: you’ll revel in the good, and you’ll feel challenged by the ones whose solutions elude you. Coming from a two-person design studio, A Little to the Left is a breath of fresh air and exactly the sort of wholesome game we need more of.
Is Switch the best place to play It Takes Two? Probably not: it’s a beautiful game which truly deserves the power of a high-end PC or next-gen console to really shine. But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a worthy port. If Switch is your only gaming format, or even if you simply want to enjoy it again, this time handheld, you’re going to be in for a treat.
Charon’s Staircase doesn’t exactly redefine the horror genre. It looks a bit rough, and its tried-and-tested gameplay doesn’t break any moulds. But the majority of its puzzles will keep you hooked, its story is interesting, and it absolutely nails creating a tense, horrifying atmosphere. That alone makes this a spooky adventure worth stepping into.
There’s very little joy to be found in playing Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx, and that’s such a shame. For youngsters who love the series, the idea of getting to take control of their favourite cartoon superheroes should be an exciting one. And yet, all that they’re left with is a disappointing mess of a game, albeit one with some familiar characters. Young fans will probably still lap it up, because they don’t know any better. But lacklustre visuals, lazy design and perhaps the worst combat we’ve ever encountered in a video game really should not be considered good enough for the generation that holds our future.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival is another solid entry into this bizarre but lovable drumming rhythm game. The 70 songs included within the game offer plenty of variety, but it’s a shame some of the best tracks are locked behind the Taiko Music Pass subscription. The multiplayer modes on offer are a welcome touch, but if you’re expecting more minigames like Drum ‘n’ Fun, you may be disappointed. This is more about the music, and we can’t really fault that.
That niggle aside though, we’re pleasantly surprised with Arkanoid: Eternal Battle. There have been many versions of Arkanoid (and other Breakout clones) over the years, but this might be one of our favourites. The Battle Royale format really does work, and the end-game boss mode is an unexpected but welcome twist. We’ll certainly be jumping back in again and again to chase those high scores.
Gas Station Simulator is a tough game to score. It’s deeply flawed, but it’s oh-so fun. The jankiness is part-and-parcel with the experience, but some progress-halting bugs will really sour you. Still, the act of manning your own gas station, getting stuck into the nitty-gritty and seeing your business flourish over time is incredibly satisfying. And those issues just aren’t enough to drag us away from the joy of serving our customers.
Overall then, The Jackbox Party Pack 9 is a strong mix of titles, with a nice variety of all sorts of party games. Prefer something that will actually test your general knowledge? There’s Quixort. Want something completely random and silly? Go for Junktopia. Like the idea of pretending to be someone else? Opt for Roomerang. Add to the mix a wonderful presentation, plenty of humour and, of course, Cookie Masterson, and you’ve got one of the best Jackbox collections we’ve played in some time.
Ultimately, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway is a competent karting game. It looks nice, there’s plenty of single player content, and it boasts a strong roster of characters and tracks. But did we need another game in the series? Could the new content and characters not simply be an expansion to the previous release? Questions we’ll never know the answer to. If you already own Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2, you’re not exactly getting a completely new experience. But if you’re new to the franchise and enjoy easy-going karting games, you likely won’t be disappointed with what is undoubtedly the best entry yet.
The marrying of Mario and Rabbids may still feel like a strange choice, even five years on from the first game, but Ubisoft and Nintendo have once again proved just how well this mash-up can work. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope does the impossible by making the oft-impenetrable tactical combat genre approachable – and a heck of a lot of fun. Combine that with gorgeous, colourful visuals and fun platforming and exploration, and you’ve got one of the Switch’s best games.
And so, while Airoheart takes some small steps to be its own thing, there’s nothing here that truly separates it from its inspirations. Is that such a bad thing? After all, A Link to the Past is over 30 years old now, but it’s still a beloved classic. Playing something so similar that it invokes that warm feeling of nostalgia is rather nice, in all honesty. Airoheart might not reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to.
Although a little repetitive in nature, Dreamworks Dragons: Legends of the Nine Realms is a competent franchise tie-in game that’s sure to appeal to any fan of the series. It’s straightforward enough to be enjoyed by children, but the extra layer of skill provided to the combat will be appreciated by older players, too. It’s not going to be lighting anyone’s world on fire, but it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with the family at the very least.
PC Building Simulator 2 sets a new benchmark for simulation games. The attention to detail, the ease of play, the presentation – everything is second to none, and we can’t get enough.
Don’t expect Lemon Cake to blow you away. Management sims come much better and more sophisticated than this elsewhere. But if you like to keep things simple and have fond memories of playing the likes of Diner Dash, then this will scratch that nostalgic itch deep inside of you. Sure, it’s repetitive, but sometimes a straightforward, goal-oriented game to switch off with is all we need.
Stick with Bunny Park past its opening moments, and you’ll probably have a decent time with it. Don’t expect any real depth, though, but if the idea of a very simple simulation game where you can design your own cute garden appeals to you, you’ll at least get two or three hours’ enjoyment here.
Don’t let Dome Keeper‘s simplicity put you off: in fact, it’s that simplicity that makes it so great in the first place. Free of bloat and complicated mechanics, this game of survival against the odds will keep you coming back for more. And more.
Potion Permit is the sort of cosy, welcoming game we can find ourselves playing for hours on end, its satisfying gameplay loop never getting old or repetitive. It won’t be for everyone, but if you love games like the Atelier series and Stardew Valley, and can somehow imagine a marrying of the two, you’re going to find yourself right at home here.
Some may find it repetitive, but those who like the idea of going on a strange and spooky safari through an abandoned wildlife park will love Penko Park. It’s a short and sweet experience brought to life with a cast of creative critters – and hunting them down to shoot them (with your camera of course) is nothing but a joy. If you like Pokémon Snap, this one is for you.