In broad terms, I can understand why Mario Kart 8 might be hard to justify for some players. It's a re-release of a game Nintendo put out three years ago, and that Nintendo fans (who make up a large portion of the Switch audience) probably already played. That said, this is a fantastic addition to the Switch library, not just as a great game but as one that benefits from the system's core features. It adds the requisite new content and fixes the one large oversight of the original. Mario Kart 8 was already one of the best in the series. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is even better.
The Disney Afternoon Collection may not have the consistency of Capcom's previous work with the Eclipse Engine, thanks to its library varying in quality. But it is just as reverent and breezy, and the addition of the Rewind feature helps ease the journey into the past. If you were a fan of even a few of these games, you owe it to yourself to see them presented so respectfully for a modern audience.
Halo Wars didn't rewrite the RTS playbook, and Halo Wars 2 is unlikely to bring on many converts who weren't convinced by the first attempt. In many ways this is an iterative sequel, with new units and balance, and a handful of additions. The campaign is well-made and the multiplayer shines thanks largely to Blitz Mode. It's a streamlined take on a genre that has faded even more in recent years, but in its own way, Halo Wars 2 is still carrying the flame.
When I began Horizon: Zero Dawn, I was anxious it wouldn't be able to maintain itself for thirty-plus hours. I'm thrilled that fear was unfounded. The play was constantly rich and rewarding, and the mysteries constantly unfolding. I'm left not just feeling satisfied the entire time, but wanting more. This one is something special.
It's fitting, somehow, that a game series so lovingly modeled after a famous B-movie would itself result in a B-tier game. Dead Rising 4 is uneven and less polished than many other games this fall. It's the kind of light, airy game I would have expected earlier in the year, when it wouldn't risk being swallowed up by the holiday season. At its core it's a pulp adventure, with winking witticisms and bloody messes strewn throughout. That makes it, if not entirely memorable, at least a bloody good time that understands the ephemeral nature of camp.
Maybe as a result of the sheer growing mass of Skylanders games, though, the level design here is particularly uninspired. Most maps are simple A-to-B affairs, with some simplistic puzzles dotting the landscape. It carries some legacy issues, like the frustratingly slow block-pushing puzzles, and the inability to easily read ahead when characters are slowly delivering their dialogue points. Plus the central hub, called M.A.P.S., is a bit more confusing than most of the past hub worlds, since it consists of several floating islands without obvious paths between them.
Paper Mario: Color Splash is the kind of simple, lightly enjoyable experience that I might have willingly gotten lost in at one point in my life. It's mostly inoffensive, usually charming, and a visual treat. The battle system is a drag, but it's emblematic of a larger problem that is also reflected in the quests: it simply doesn't respect the player's time. With more aggressive story editing and less desire to reinvent the wheel, this may have been something truly special. Instead it's merely fine.
Thankfully that slapdash treatment isn't indicative of the game as a whole. The story mode is well put together and serves as a faithful homage to the classic. It's loving to the point of almost fawning, and it feels a little too willing to play it safe at times, but it's an enjoyable nostalgia trip regardless.
Picross 3D 2 is what a sequel should be, especially for puzzle games. I would've been happy with more puzzles, but it went further. It iterated and engaged my brain in new and clever ways that I hadn't even considered, it revised its progression ramp in a way that I found more satisfying, and it gave and continues to give me dozens of hours of enjoyment. If you have any interest in logic puzzles and brain-teasers, this is a can't-miss.
All of this took a promising franchise introduction and just left a bad taste in my mouth. I genuinely enjoyed a lot of aspects of ReCore--the world, the nail-biting platforming challenges, the smart and fast-paced combat. But it comes with so many issues and reservations that it becomes hard to recommend. I liked ReCore enough to hope we'll see an improved sequel, but if we do, I'll recommend players skip to that one.
Combat also comes into play occasionally. It's a secondary trait to the puzzle-solving play, accented by how long it takes to get a traditional weapon for your tiny submarine. Until then, you simply have to make-do with a grappling claw. Upgrades are available that add qualities like extra damage or special attributes to your shots, though it seems as if a few unmarked upgrades would be necessary to handle some of the more difficult combat scenarios.
In its day, Mega Man went from a pioneering force in action game perfection to the poster child for redundant, cookie cutter sequels that failed to push the genre forward. Mighty No 9 does present a few concepts that feel like they could have been the next iterative step. Even if it had avoided its many pitfalls and baffling design choices, though, it's likely a few decades too late for such minor improvements.
Kirby: Planet Robobot also offers some alternatives in the form of other modes. Two of them, Meta-Knightmare Returns and The Arena, are a traditional Time Attack (as Meta-Knight) and Boss Rush mode, respectively. Those are unlocked after completing the main story. Two other modes, available from the start, offer wholly different experiences from the standard Kirby game, and are better for it.
Overwatch is a collection of firsts, but it carries itself with the confidence and proficiency of a veteran. It has plenty of room to grow and expand, but as our first step into this world, it's inviting, competitive, smartly designed, beautiful to look at, and fun to play. You can't ask for much more than that.
All of that makes Battleborn feel light, airy, and inconsequential. It's enjoyable in its best moments and especially in one of its multiplayer modes, but the problem comes with its lack of longevity. It's clearly a game built to be enjoyed in the long-term, like the MOBAs that inspired it, but it doesn't have the legs to run that far. This is a game built to be played repeatedly over the course of months, but I felt tired of it after a week.
Make no mistake, Pocket Card Jockey is weird. The plot is ridiculous, the systems are obtuse, and the reliance on luck can be incredibly frustrating. Despite all that, though, I kept promising myself just one more race, and then another, late into the night throughout my play sessions. Its complexity can be overwhelming, but once you hit your stride, it's entertaining all the way to the home stretch.